Veganism – for the few or the many?

How should food businesses respond to the vegan trend?

Our Business Forum in January 2020 explored the rise of veganism and its implications.

Some argue that the recent rise of veganism is a temporary fad and would highlight that despite recent growth, the number of vegans in the UK only represents just over 1% of the population. Others would point to a quadrupling of the number of vegans in the UK since 2014 and argue that the rise in veganism in mainstream society is here to stay.

For many veganism is much more than about simply eating vegan food however. What is veganism? Should vegans be promoting ethical veganism or plant-based foodism? Are trends towards eating ‘less and better’ meat and dairy welcome or are they diluting a pure notion of veganism? Is veganism an ethical response to harm being caused in the food system? How should businesses respond to veganism and growing interest in plant-based food? We explored these and other questions

Read our summary write-up to learn more about some of the important debates and ethical tensions relating to veganism.

Speakers for this event were Dr Richard White, Reader in Human Geography at Sheffield Hallam University; Simon Fairlie, who runs a microdairy, is an author (including of ‘Meat: A Benign Extravagance’) and co-editor of The Land magazine; and Ruth Layton, founder of sankalpa and Trustee of the Food Ethics Council. Patti Whaley, Chair of the Food Ethics Council, chaired the meeting.