Whether for health reasons, climate change or animal welfare, vegan statistics show the plant-based population continues to spike.
Now, it seems as though everyone knows at least one vegan in their lives. Even celebrities and professional athletes are picking up on the trend.
Businesses have taken notice, too. The vegan market has boomed, resulting in thousands of new vegan products. And restaurants and fast-food chains are starting to accommodate with plant-based options.
The growing trend of veganism isn’t just speculative, however. There are actual vegan statistics that prove that the vegan lifestyle won’t fizzle out any time soon.
General Vegan Statistics: The Vegan Population
Vegan population statistics are difficult to capture, but there are many polls and surveys that have estimated the number of vegans in the United States, UK and other major countries.
Vegan Population Statistics in the United States
In 2014, only 1% of the American population labeled themselves as vegan. In 2017, that figure spiked to 6%. This 600% increase was monitored by the research firm GlobalData.
What’s interesting is the 39% of people who aren’t vegan but who actively try to incorporate plant-based foods into their diets. This is demonstrated by a 2017 report by the global analytics company Nielson.
Who is leading this steady increase in vegan popularity? A recent 2018 survey shows that nearly 40% of millennials identify as vegan. Baby Boomers and Generation X tie at 21% each, with only 2% of seniors labeling themselves vegan.
Vegan Population Statistics in the UK
Veganism is also booming in the UK with a 400% increase over the last two years. In 2016, Ipsos reported that 3.25% of UK adults identified as vegan. Compare the Market now reports that a whopping 7% of the UK’s population have gone vegan.
The same report demonstrates that 14% of the UK are vegetarian and another 31% are actively eating less meat.
Global Vegan and Vegetarian Population Statistics
Around the world, the popularity of meatless diets is soaring.
A completely animal-free diet is the most popular in Western countries like the U.S. and UK, but vegetarianism and veganism are slowly increasing globally:
- In Canada, veganism was a top search trend in 2017. In the Google trends report, “plant-based diet” topped the list.
- A “record number” of Australians, roughly 10%, have adopted a plant-based diet.
- The number of vegetarians in Portugal rose by 400% in the last decade.
- According to Euromonitor, Italy had the fastest growing vegetarian population—a 94% increase from 2011-2016.
- Data shows that only 21% of Germans consume meat on a daily basis, and the vegan population in Germany has doubled in the last decade.
- While China has one of the largest meat markets in the world, the Chinese government released new dietary guidelines that encourage the population of more than 1.3 billion people to reduce their meat consumption by 50%.
Demand for Vegan Products
As more people ditch animal products for plant foods, food companies are responding to the demand and giving consumers what they want. There are more options for vegan meats, cheeses, milks, eggs and other products than ever before.
Vegan Milk Statistics
The global plant milk market was worth over $8 billion in 2016 and is expected to exceed $21 billion by 2024, according to Global Market Insights. Soy milk and coconut milk are expected to top the plant milk sales charts.
While some dairy farms are closing after decades of operations, non-dairy milk products are emerging left and right. In recent years, non-dairy milk options have grown from the standard soy milk and almond milk to include coconut, hemp, rice, oat, pea, cashew and more.
Plant-Based Meat and Fast-Food Statistics
The global vegan meat market is also growing steadily. Allied Market Research estimates the market will reach $7.5 billion by 2025, naming Beyond Meat as one of the leading meat substitute products. They expect Europe to dominate the market and the Asia-Pacific will experience exponential growth.
An area where vegan food performs really well is in fast-food restaurants. In recent years, several meat-free fast-food restaurants have opened across the U.S. These include Veggie Grill, Plant Power Fast Food, Monty’s Good Burger and Amy’s Drive Thru.
The owner of Plant Power Fast Food told Forbes that their new San Diego location has experienced a 63% surge of growth. According to the owner, it’s not vegans who are responsible for the vegan restaurant’s quick success. Rather, it’s omnivores who are interested in trying vegan fast-food.
Non-vegan fast-food restaurants like Taco Bell and Fatburger are also starting to cater to vegans. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are now available in thousands of U.S. locations, including Taco Bell and Fatburger, respectively.
Large fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Pizza Hut test vegan options in their European locations. McDonald’s released a McVegan burger in Sweden and Finland. Similarly, Pizza Hut offers vegan cheese in its UK locations.
Vegan Industry Statistics
The 400% increase of vegans in the UK is shocking, but the 1,500% increase in plant-based food sales in the UK is even more shocking.
Similarly, vegan food products grew by 92% between 2014-2016, according to a report by Mintel, as the Australian population becomes more health conscious.
It’s not just vegan food that’s increasing in popularity. According to Grand View Research, vegan fashion is on a steady incline. The vegan leather industry is anticipated to hit $85 billion by 2025 as faux leather shoes are significantly cheaper than genuine animal hide footwear.
Vegan Sustainability Statistics
One of the core reasons why vegan product alternatives are increasing in popularity is because of the consumer’s growing understanding of the sustainability of veganism.
Meat eaters are turning to vegan meats like the Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger because the plant-based alternatives require fewer resources.
A 2018 Oxford University study found that the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact is to avoid animal products. This is largely because more than 80% of farmland is dedicated to livestock animals raised for meat and dairy, yet these food products only account for about 18% of calories and 37% of protein consumption.
A 2010 United Nation report stated that a global move to a plant-based diet is necessary to save the world from starvation, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.
Documentaries like Cowspiracy have educated many consumers on the significant impacts that animal agriculture has on the environment and Earth’s resources. They focus on greenhouse gases, water, land use, waste, oceans, rainforest, wildlife and humanity. Some of the main takeaways include:
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all transportation emissions combined.
- The USDA reports that agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of U.S. water consumption. More than half is dedicated to feeding livestock raised for human food.
- 477 gallons of water are required to produce one pound of eggs, and almost 900 gallons of water are needed for one pound of cheese, according to the Environmental Working Group.
- Livestock covers 45% of the Earth’s total land, though they are a major cause of global warming.
- Per the FAO, approximately 75% of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted due to overfishing.
Vegan Athletes and Celebrities
Among the millions of vegans around the world are notable celebrities and professional athletes.
Some celebrities like Alicia Silverstone, Joaquin Phoenix, Moby, Woody Harrelson, Paul McCartney and Peter Dinklage have been vegan for decades.
Other vegan celebrities in the U.S. include Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Beyonce.
Vegan celebrities from the UK include Ellie Goulding, David Haye, Russell Brand and Morrissey.
There are also several professional athletes who are powered by plants. Athletes belonging to a vast variety of sports—tennis, bodybuilding, running, basketball, football, etc.—are converting to plant-based diets. Some of the strongest, fittest people in the world debunk the myth that you need meat to get protein and build muscle.
Some notable vegan athletes include Venus Williams, Colin Kaepernick, Kyrie Irving, Lewis Hamilton, Scott Jurek and Derrick Morgan.
Hope for Future Vegan Statistics
The word “vegan” still has some myths and stereotypes surrounding it. As the vegan lifestyle enters the mainstream, it’s starting to be positively associated with the health benefits, sustainability and compassion that come with it.
The vegan statistics speak for themselves. The reasons why so many people are swapping animal products for vegan products vary, but the main reasons hover around health, environment and animal welfare.
Even people who aren’t 100% vegan are showing increased interest in replacing some of their meals with plant-based alternatives. Fortunately, the vegan foods market is ever-growing, and the products are becoming more realistic. Products like the Impossible Burger essentially eliminate the need to get the flavors of meat, dairy and eggs from animals.
As documentaries, celebrities and vegan social campaigns spread awareness about the benefits of a vegan diet, the statistics will continue to reflect the global population’s increasing interest in veganism.