It’s Veganuary and supermarkets and restaurant chains are steadily picking up on the growing trend for plant-based eating. Our guest author, Hannah Jolliffe, asks if you’ve been tempted?
January is fast replacing Lent as the time to cut things out of our diets. First was ‘Dry January’, encouraging us to purge our bodies of alcohol after the excesses of Christmas, and then came Veganuary, a time to turn our diets to plant-based meals.
What’s the point of Veganuary?
Slightly off-putting name aside, I like the idea of Veganuary. While I enjoy eating meat, I am mindful not to have it every day and generally consume a much higher proportion of vegetarian food. I guess that makes me a ‘flexitarian’.
However, my flexitarian diet goes out of the window at Christmas, and by January, I often feel bloated by too many roasts, cold meat platters and sausage rolls. Plus, I fear what all this meat-eating is doing to the environment.
That’s why I’ve gone vegetarian for January this year – I’d like to smugly say I’ve gone vegan, but the thought of a whole month without cheese is too much.
Supermarkets go vegan
But with veganism seemingly going mainstream, I’m now wondering if I could have managed it after all.
Supermarkets, in particular, have expanded their range of vegan products. Tesco has just launched a ‘Wicked Kitchen’ range of 18 vegan-friendly ready meals including a ‘naked’ burrito, mushroom Bolognese and a carrot pastrami-spiced wrap. Ocado has also added 90 vegan products to its dedicated vegan site this month.
But it isn’t just food that can catch you out when cutting animal products from your diet – veganism also involves careful research of drinks, including alcohol.
Luckily, supermarkets have this one covered, too – Co-op is expanding its vegan wine range to 100 products by the end of the year, with eight due to launch next month.
Restaurant chains are also getting in on the vegan act, with Pizza Express and Pizza Hut both selling vegan-friendly cheese toppings, and Wagamama offering several vegan dishes. London has even just seen the first 100% vegan pub open its doors to the public.
This vegan malarkey is sounding easier by the minute.
Cashing-in on the vegan trend?
According to The Vegan Society, there were over half a million vegans in Great Britain in 2016: three-and-a-half times as many as estimated in 2006. And last year, one in three people said they were trying to reduce their meat intake leading to more than half of UK adults adopting ‘vegan-buying behaviour’.
Clearly, these are statistics that are making supermarkets rub their hands together with glee – and, in my opinion, some appear to be taking advantage.
Take the Marks & Spencer cauliflower ‘steak’, which has now been withdrawn from sale. Priced at £2, it was essentially a slice of cauliflower with a bit of dressing and came in a lot of unnecessary packaging. A whole cauliflower generally costs a quid or less… the words rip and off spring to mind.
To me, eating vegan or veggie foods isn’t necessarily about dedicating our whole lives to diets free of animal products, but about reducing the amount of meat we eat and being more selective about its origin when we do.
If new vegan products on supermarket shelves help move us in this direction, then I’m all for it (minus the cauliflower steaks, of course).
This is a guest contribution by Hannah Jolliffe. All views expressed here are Hannah’s own and not necessarily also shared by Which?.
Have you gone vegan for January? Are you or have you been tempted by vegan products? How do you rate them? Could they persuade you to go wholly vegan?