Veganuary and the retreat from meat

The move towards eating less meat is one of the food trends that will dominate 2019. Veganism along with vegetarianism is becoming big business. The market researcher Mintel has reported that UK sales of meat free foods, including vegan products, rose to an estimated £740m last year, up 22% since 2013. Highlighting a movement in the retreat from meat.

The variety and quality of food choices for vegans and vegetarians in the UK has improved dramatically in recent years. Supermarkets have added many more vegan and vegetarian lines and it’s now appearing as a popular restaurant option .With widespread media coverage of Greggs recently launched vegan sausage roll and chains offering more vegan friendly foods. Eating less meat and dairy has moved from the fringes into the mainstream. One in eight Britons are now identifying themselves as vegetarian or vegan and a further 21% say they are flexitarian. Others are just choosing to eat less meat.

The New Year saw record numbers sign up for Veganuary. A campaign to get people to eat vegan for January. Since the movement started five years ago the number of participants have doubled year on year. With more than 250,000 people now signing up. Plant-based food has become a fixture on restaurant menus and on our retailers’ shelves .Consumers have started to eat less meat or abandon animal protein altogether, whether for ethical, animal welfare, health or environmental reasons. In a recent influential Oxford University report the authors concluded that animal products usually require a more intensive and environmentally damaging mode of production than that needed for plant-based food. Whatever the driving force for the retreat from meat it will reshape the food landscape in 2019 and probably beyond .It has already prompted food providers to increase their offering of vegan and vegetarian products.

There are some regulatory and compliance challenges and developing a new plant-based offering should not be taken lightly. In the UK there is no legal definition for “vegan” or “vegetarian” foods and unlike the strict labelling requirements for allergens it is not specifically regulated. However it still has to be represented or labelled in such a way so as to not mislead the consumer.

This may change as veganism and vegetarianism becomes more popular and widespread. It will inevitably come under greater scrutiny. Last summer saw the media reporting on meat being found in retailer vegan and vegetarian prepared foodstuffs. With laboratory analysis picking up traces of turkey in a vegan macaroni ready meal and pork in meat-free meatballs. Drawing unwelcome comparisons to the “horse meat scandal” and undermining public confidence in the provenance of plant-based foods. Marks and Spencer’s 100% suitable for vegans “Plant Kitchen” range has also recently been in the headlines. Confusingly some products were counterintuitively labelled with the allergen warning that they are “not suitable for milk or egg allergy sufferers” as the animal based allergens may be present in the manufacturing environment. Responding to this new trend will require robust food management and compliance systems to ensure food businesses do not fall foul of the law and the court of public opinion.

Note: if you need any Allergen Awareness training, we have in-house and open courses available.

Guide to plant based diets:

  • Vegans: Do not eat meat, poultry, fish or any products derived from animals, including eggs, dairy products and gelatine.
  • Vegetarians: Do not eat meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Do not eat meat, poultry or fish, but do eat eggs and dairy products.
  • Lacto vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish or eggs, but do consume dairy products.
  • Ovo vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish or dairy products, but do eat eggs.
  • Partial vegetarians: Avoid meat but may eat fish (pesco-vegetarian, pescatarian) or poultry (pollo-vegetarian).
  • Flexitarians: Primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eat meat, poultry or seafood.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email

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