Vegan products in UK supermarkets
Whilst it's argued that Jains and Buddhists have a claim on the aspirations of non-violence and least harm, secular veganism began in the United Kingdom at a meeting in London in November 1944. Donald Watson created the word vegan (pronounced veegun) from "the begining and end of vegetarianism" and set up the world's first Vegan Society.
In 2004 the UK Vegan Society celebrated it's Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary on World Vegan Day with a range of events including the Diamond Jubilee Awards at hotel overlooking The Tower of London by the river Thames. It marked a change in mood to a celebratory unapologetic positive approach to the healthier, more sustainable, kinder more ethical solutions that a vegan lifestyle has to offer.
Numbers of UK vegans began to rise and worlwide veganism began to flourish outside of the strongholds of the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and Holland. The International Vegetarian Union passed resolutions that their events would henceforth be vegan-friendly.
By 2011 a number of celebrity endorsements of the vegan diet and a selection of feature length documentaries promoting veganism seemed to provoke that legendary hundreth monkey syndrome, the point of critical mass. Google trends plots a 45 degree climb from that point as not just UK veganism but worldwide veganism suddenly starts a heavenly climb.
In early 2013 there was a massive spike in interest in veganism and it's still unclear whether it was the fear of horsemeat or generally unknown ingredients in processed meat products easily replaced with vegan alternatives (such as burgers, hotdogs, sausages, mince) or whether it was the subsequent health scares about processed meat and it's links to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and altzhiemers that was reponsible. There was also publicity about GM soya in the feed to cows and chickens thus implicating milk and eggs.
It may just have been critical mass of another kind. The abundant availability of vegan alternatives in the shops that had found people who sympathised with the logic of veganism but previously considered it too dificult. Now instead of "Why vegan?" the question more often seems to be "Why not?"
In 2013 Vegfest UK reported a 40% increase in vistors to Vegfest Brighton. The Vegan Society reported a 40% increase in vegan pledges and The Vegetarian Society reported a 40% spike in hits to it's websites.
Fry's, a major manufacturer of meat-free foods, reported increased UK sales of 30%. Plamil Foods, pioneers of vegan chocolate, reported new demand for vegan chocolate coming from all parts of the world.