There’s little doubt that veganism is increasing hugely in popularity, especially with the environmental revolution spilling out into every industry sector. I remember a time when being a vegan was mostly associated with anarchist punks and hippies. But what was once a fringe movement has now become so mainstream that most brands are looking for way to get a piece of this vegan pie, and why not, because unlike other food movements it looks as if this one is here to stay! Avoid this trend at your peril!

Staggeringly the number of people who describe themselves as vegan has risen 350% in the UK in the last decade! The UK responded to consumer needs by launching more vegan products than any other nation last year. Which made it the country’s fastest growing culinary trend of 2018. In fact, every major British supermarket announced or expanded a vegan range in 2018.

Beyond the supermarkets, other companies have been drawn in by the ‘Vegan Halo’. One company that springs to mind is Greggs. They’ve recognised the shift in consumer thinking and have evolved and adapted their products in line this. When Greggs launched their vegan sausage roll, I’m not sure anyone expected such a reaction. It became a social media sensation, attracting huge publicity across many channels, and resulted in the firm’s share price increasing by nearly 20%. It single handedly transformed the 80-year-old, Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based bakery into a 21st-century “on-the-go” brand.

The vegan sausage roll is now one of Greggs’ five bestsellers, but sales of all of its ranges have increased. “People arrived looking for that product. But once they were in Greggs they saw what else we did.” says Roger Whiteside, Greggs’ CEO. The company is looking into vegan versions of its other bestsellers. The sky is the limit! Perhaps cultural commentators will look back at that moment as a turning point, as it seems to have had a knock-on effect as Ginsters soon followed suit.

This phenomenon is not confined to food though. Currently you can’t move for vegan sofas, vegan face cream, vegan everything. Dr Martens boots have strolled in and out of fashion many times in the past few decades, but even this brand is proving a hit with eco-conscious consumers and celebrities.

So it’s clear a seismic cultural shift has occurred. Veganism is a business that has redefined the public’s priorities.  Businesses must respond to the trend if they hope to survive and maintain a positive and wholesome brand image.

After all, a brand is a lot more than the products you sell, it’s about your values too.