By Sarah Durrant, Group Digital Marketing Manager and resident vegan at Catax.
The rise in veganism is by no means a new story in the UK. The latest research by the Vegan Society estimates there are around 540,000 in Great Britain, an increase of 260 per cent since 2006.
Big chain restaurants such as Zizzi, GBK, Pizza Express, Nandos, Wagamama and Pizza Hut have all launched vegan options and menus over the past few years, getting inside a trend which is looking to only increase over the next few years – even Guinness have gone vegan!
With Quorn announcing a £7m investment into research and development for new vegan products in their range earlier this year, it got me thinking – how much R&D is there in this vegan thing?
I went vegan only last year, after about 2 years of being vegetarian. There are a whole host of reasons behind this which I won’t bore you with, however one thing I will say is that it has massively heightened my interest in food (and eating) and I’m now like a sponge for anything and everything to do with progresses in vegan food production and trying all the new foods that become available to me.
Although many people choose a vegan diet because they don’t like the taste or texture of meat, there’s also a whole load of people who do so for ethical reasons, meaning they still miss burgers and steaks and want in on the action. This means that one of the key areas in vegan food production is creating food that looks, smells and acts like meat, but is completely plant based.
The Beyond Burger, from US brand Beyond Meat’, finally hit the UK shelves in November, much to the delight of the vegan Facebook group that I’m a member of – everyone was falling over themselves to be the first ones to try it. This particular burger even boasts a beetroot ‘blood’, so the burger oozes when you take a bite!
In July this year, Beyond Meat even opened their very own 26,000 square foot research and development centre in Los Angeles, designed to bring together the world’s best scientists, engineers, food technologists, chefs and managers all aiming to bring even more plant based ‘meat’ to the masses.
This is just one area of innovation in the vegan market – there are plenty more which are potentially less known. For example:
With big names like Sir David Attenborough bringing the threats of global warming to everyone’s attention and highlighting how cutting down consumption of red meat can help lower our footprint, I can only imagine this is an area of Research & Development which is only going to get bigger in the years to come.