Study shows massive surge in veganism across the UK with Glasgow leading the way

New research has revealed a massive leap in the number of ordinary Brits who are now enjoying being vegan, and Glasgow has emerged as an unlikely hotspot for the lifestyle.

Published 19th May 2016
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

Veganism is one of the UK's fastest growing lifestyle movements, with the number of people cutting meat, fish and dairy products out of their diet growing by 350 per cent in the past decade.

The new survey, carried out for the Vegan Society, suggests more than half a million people across the country are now vegan.

Scots are following the trend but not in such great numbers, with 27,100 – or 5 per cent of all the UK’s vegans – living north of the Border.

And Scotland's largest city is going all out to meet the new demand, offering the widest selection of vegan eateries outside London.

Colin Campbell, who serves an Asian-style menu at the Hug & Pint, says much of Glasgow’s vegan success is down to pioneers like Craig Tannock, who opened the first vegan kitchen in 1994.

Mr Campbell said: “On one hand, we are very young in terms of food culture. We are constantly topping lists of unhealthiest places to live … We don’t compete with London or even Edinburgh in Michelin stars.

“On the other hand, we’ve got enough people who are thinking about food ethically to sustain an amount of vegan eateries disproportionate to the average UK city.”

Mr. Tannock, a vegan for the past 30 years, now runs five hip outlets in Glasgow, including Mono and the Flying Duck.

He said the vegan revolution is a worldwide phenomenon that is accelerating, spurred on by a variety of factors: “The environment is a huge one, with the global animal industry a major contributor to climate change.”

“And lately high-profile chefs have discovered vegetables and treat them with respect.

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“People are also less able to hide from the facts and it is changing their behaviour.”

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Industry experts believe the change has come about for a variety of reasons, including celebrities making the diet seem less drastic and increasing public awareness of the environmental and health impacts of carnivorous habits.

High-profile vegans include actors Natalie Portman, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Scotland’s own Alan Cumming, as well as singers Stevie Wonder and Morrissey, comedian Russell Brand and politician Al Gore. Recently departed rock idol Prince also followed the regime.

Results suggest the movement is being driven by young people seeking to make more ethical and compassionate lifestyle choice, with 42 per cent of all vegans aged under 34 compared to 14 per cent who are older than 65.

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The latest findings suggest the movement is still gaining momentum, with more than half a million non-vegan vegetarians saying they would like to cut their dietary consumption of animal products.

The highest concentrations of people who reject animal-based foods are found in towns and cities, with nearly 90 per cent found in urban areas. More than a fifth of all UK vegans are based in London.

“To have over half a million vegans in Britain is fantastic,” said Vegan Society chief executive Jasmijn de Boo.

“More people than ever before are acting upon the health and environmental benefits of veganism, and finding out what really goes on in the meat and dairy industries and deciding they do not want to contribute to the pain and suffering of animals.”

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