You’d be hard-pressed to have made it this far without hearing about Veganuary.
Splashed across social media, in supermarkets and in countless advertising campaigns in the run up to the new year, the movement – run by its not-for-profit namesake – has been encouraging people around the world to try a vegan diet since its inception in 2014.
And the movement just keeps on growing. In January 2021, nearly 600,000 participants made the 31-day pledge to give up meat, fish and dairy from their diets, making it the biggest year yet.
The plant-based food market is certainly helping to fuel this uptick in people adopting a vegan diet. Valued at an estimated $29.4 billion in 2020, the plant-based food market is projected to grow rapidly and be worth over $162 billion by 2030.
With new plant-based food products being constantly developed and launched (1,200 launched last January alone) – it could be argued that leading a vegan lifestyle is now easier, and more accessible, than ever.
But with the market becoming increasingly saturated as more and more brands hop on board the plant-powered bandwagon, how can businesses ensure they are cutting through the noise?
Focus on the eco-advantages
While 42% of Veganuary participants in 2020 cited health reasons as their primary rationale for taking part, Veganuary is about much more than that. With the overall mission of “ending animal suffering, protecting the planet, and improving human health”, brands need to be aware of all the benefits of veganism and ensure these messages are articulated clearly.
Animal agriculture is far more intensive, and damaging, to the planet than cultivating plants is (yes, even soya!). In fact, over 58% of all food-related emissions come from animal products.
It’s all well and good a brand creating a new meat-alternative burger or plant-based cheese, but if the product (and its packaging) is not actually a more sustainable or eco-friendly option than the animal-derived equivalents, then what is the point? Consumers will see through brands who simply jump on the vegan bandwagon without making commitments to the planet.
UK chain Wagamama is a great example of where this has been put into practice. Recently fulfilling its promise of turning half of its menu vegan, it is the first UK restaurant chain to make such a big step. But Wagamama argue that the move is in fact “not radical. It’s necessary”, pledging to “tread more lightly on our earth”. The company’s messaging and actions do a very good job at making their stance on the importance of sustainability clear.
Let flexitarians lead the way
Earlier in October, the first Plant-Based World Expo took place in London, showcasing “the world’s most revolutionary plant-based products”. One of the key takeaways from the event was the need to capture the attention of meat eaters.
During the pandemic, 20% of Brits cut down on their meat consumption, and 15% reduced their intake of dairy and egg products, with 1 in 5 saying they would purchase them again in the future.
It’s clear our mindset towards vegan food is changing, along with our buying behaviour. But instead of preaching vegan perfection, it seems the way forward for brands is to take a more forgiving approach.
By encouraging people to try and incorporate vegan meals into their diet, rather than putting pressure on them to go ‘cold-turkey’, brands are more likely to engage well with a wider customer base.
Take UK meal delivery service AllPlants, for example, whose advert this January sported the tagline “We’re all plants. You don’t have to be”. By following AllPlants’ lead and being realistic, acknowledging that a swap to a fully plant-based diet can be difficult, brands selling vegan food products will likely get more meat-eaters willing to give them a try. Ahead of Veganuary, you could challenge consumers to go plant-based a few days a week, rather than the whole month, to start to shift habits and attitudes.
Make it accessible for all
Traditionally, one of the biggest preconceptions about swapping to a plant-based diet is that it would be more expensive. But with the high cost of meat and lower incomes during the pandemic leading to 15% of Brits opting for plant-based alternatives instead, it’s clear this no longer needs to be the case. Highlighting potential cost-savings through stories on social media and in PR is a great way to resonate with some of the more sceptical, cost-conscious customers.
By running Instagram Live cookalongs to teach people how to cook quick vegan meals on a budget, UK chef duo BOSH! have seen great success and a huge growth in their following during the lockdowns. Consider how to directly engage customers via digital cook-alongs or events that showcase the ease with which consumers can create delicious, plant-based meals from home.
Changing consumption habits and perceptions of veganism isn’t going to happen overnight, but with more brands focussing on educating consumers, the market and demand for plant-based products will only continue to grow in 2022.
To find out more about how out PR expertise can help your vegan products reach consumers in 2022, get in touch with us today.