Eating out as a vegan is no longer a time-consuming, difficult challenge it once was – food options have become so much better, particularly over the last few years. It’s hard to believe those who have been vegan for decades used to carry around their own little carton of soya milk, just to be in with a chance of a decent cup of tea!
Veganism, while mainly being a compassionate lifestyle choice people make for very important ethical reasons, also offers brilliant business opportunities for retailers. Vegan food, after all, promotes inclusivity as it can be enjoyed by most people – including those with special dietary requirements.
Vegetarians, the lactose intolerant, those who have cut down on their animal product consumption, followers of certain religions, the health-conscious, the environmentally-friendly and more, can all enjoy vegan food.
Although the choice in restaurants and cafés is now greater than ever, on-the-go lunch options in high street supermarkets and on-board trains and planes need to improve. Vegans are still having to plan in advance where they might pick up lunch in a hurry or carry a few ‘just in case’ snacks in their bags.
Of course, vegan living is not difficult and I wouldn’t want to give such impression – but there are many busy vegans who could benefit from a little bit of extra convenience in their lives and some would-be vegans who may be put off by that initial transitionary period.
Vegans are still having to plan in advance where they might pick up lunch in a hurry or carry a few ‘just in case’ snacks in their bags
Seeing how far things have gone for the vegan movement can sometimes distract from how much better they could be – and here is where The Vegan Society’s Vegan on the Go campaign comes in. It’s been created to bring attention to the growing demand for vegan options and to highlight to businesses that this is a market trend which is here to stay, and that they are currently missing out by not catering for us.
Supermarkets have been brilliant at offering vegan food, such as Tesco’s Wicked Kitchen and Asda’s lunch ranges which came out at the beginning of the year, the dedicated vegan section at Waitrose, and Iceland expanding its vegan range by 13 brand new products in September because of the success of its beetroot-based No Bull burger.
The potential for innovation is endless – it’s exactly what the vegan market is all about – and offers countless business opportunities. But trains and planes are slow to catch up. In fact, in a survey last year we found that 80% of vegans often go hungry on-board trains.
Plenty of us have headed off on a long journey and been pushed for time to prepare food in advance. Being stuck on a three-hour train journey with only a packet of ready salted crisps is not an ideal scenario. What The Vegan Society is campaigning for is at least one savoury and one sweet food option on every train, as well as plant milk being offered for hot drinks.
It’s particularly important to request and purchase vegan food and drink products to show rail companies it’s profitable for them to offer this
So far, only Virgin Trains offer this out of the 11 rail companies we are targeting. Veganism is growing at an exponential rate and is an untapped market that could offer huge opportunities for restaurant owners, investors and food developers. According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, there has been a 185% increase in the number of vegan products launched in the UK between 2012 and 2016.
The Vegan Society found that the number of vegans in Great Britain has quadrupled in the past four years from 150,000 to 600,000. Vegans are of course not the only ones able to enjoy vegan food, so the sales potential is great. The problem with train companies is that there is very limited space on trains to stock products. This is why it’s particularly important to request and purchase vegan food and drink products to show rail companies it’s profitable for them to offer this.
Through our charity work, we want as many people to go and stay vegan, as soon as possible, for the good of animals and our environment. The Vegan Society is involved in contacting retailers at head office level and offering research on this topic as well as a variety of ways we can help them to produce more vegan options – but we need the help of our supporters to effect real change.
Businesses listen to their customers so we have set up a system where supporters can really easily send an email to retailers, train companies and airlines, asking for more vegan options. It only takes a few minutes but ensures that those companies know vegan options are in high demand.
Please visit www.vegansociety.com/veganonthego to find out more.