You only have to scan the shelves in your local grocery store to find an array of vegan products, whether dairy-free milk or plant-based burgers. And more and more restaurants are adapting their menus to include new vegan alternatives.
From the history of veganism and the countries accelerating veganism forward, to the latest plant-based trends and the key brands leading the market space, here are 50+ statistics and facts you need to know about veganism.
Veganism has changed a lot over the years. Today, it’s an ever-growing popular trend, with more people than ever before adapting their diet to include plant-based options.
Veganism is everywhere. People have many reasons for turning vegan, whether due to sustainability, environmental and animal welfare concerns, dietary preferences, or simply because they want to try something new.
As of 2023, there are around 80 million vegans globally, only slightly more than 1% of the global population. But the number of vegans is increasing. In the US, the vegan population has grown by around 600% in the last 3 years alone.
Although sometimes perceived as a privileged Western movement, vegan diets have actually been around for a very long time in countries all over the world.
Different countries follow vegan diets due to deep-rooted cultural traditions and religious beliefs.
India, China, Japan, Greece, Jamaica, and Israel all have a long history of veganism, with many people opting for a meat-free and plant-based lifestyle, influenced by religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. In India, veganism dates back to as early as the 5th century BCE, with the ancient religion of Jainism encouraging a diet free from animal products.
Veganism isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. There are actually many different types of vegans, depending on what foods they regularly consume.
The most common types of vegans are mainstream vegans: people exclusively follow a plant-based diet, involving a mixture of ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ vegan foods, such as processed meat-free alternatives and vegan junk food, alongside whole foods.
Some of the other common vegan diets include:
Fruitarianism — A diet based mainly on raw fruit, with some raw vegetables and a small percentage of plant-based fats, such as avocado, nuts, and seeds.
Raw-food veganism — Includes raw vegan foods and foods that have not been heated above 118°F (48°C).
Whole-food, plant-based veganism — A diet including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, while often excluding oils.
Ethical vegan — Extends veganism to all aspects of life, including avoiding any animal-based products, such as leather and fur, and banning products tested on animals.
With more and more of us choosing vegan diets, food manufacturers are capitalizing on the growing opportunity. And that means more vegan products on our supermarket shelves.
The global vegan food market is currently growing at an annual rate of 9.1%, with a projected net worth of $24.3 billion by 2026. In 2018, the vegan food market was only valued at $14.2 billion.
Google searches for “vegan” and “veganism” have increased dramatically over the last few years, particularly between
Searches for veganism peaked in the UK with the highest score of any region on Google Trends. But it’s not just Brits that are going plant-based. Searches continued to grow rapidly in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and many other countries.
As far as new year’s resolutions go, switching up your diet is one of the most popular.
“Veganuary” is a challenge encouraging people to follow a vegan diet for January, with the hope they will continue their habits through the rest of the year and beyond.
The number of people participating in Veganuary has skyrocketed, particularly in the last 2 years. In 2019, around 250,300 people worldwide took part. Fast forward to 2021, and over 513,000 people switched to a vegan diet — that’s more than double.
There are many different reasons why people go vegan. But one factor was a key influencer for Veganuary in 2021, and that was animal rights.
Of those that participated in Veganuary, 46% said they did so because of animal rights concerns. The second most popular motivator was personal health, with 22% of people stating this as their top concern, followed by environmental concerns at 21%.
Veganism is a diet free from animal products, which means people are trying to get their protein from other sources.
Sales of plant-based protein foods such as tempeh, tofu, seitan, peas, beans, and chickpeas are soaring, even among those that aren’t vegan.
The global plant-based market has grown considerably, with a current market value of $11.8 billion. This is set to increase even further. By 2026, it’s estimated the plant protein market will be worth around $15.6 billion.
Although veganism means cutting out meat, many people still want to enjoy the flavor and texture of meat.
More and more meatless burgers, meatballs, sausages, filets, and ground meat are filling our grocery store shelves as a way of offering the same meaty taste, minus the animal.
In 2021, the value of plant-based meat worldwide sat at $5.37 billion, increasing from $4.98 billion in 2020. And with an impressive CAGR of over 10.4%, by 2028, the plant-based meat market is estimated to be worth $10.80 billion.
The plant-based sector is growing much faster in comparison to total retail.
In 2020, the plant-based food sector in the US accelerated by 27%, while total retail only grew by 15% in the same period.
Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of plant-based food continued to rise. Refrigerated plant-based meat was the most frequently bought product, seeing a 241% increase in sales during peak panic buying at the height of the pandemic.
Certain countries have more prominent vegan cultures, whether because of historical and religious influence or a rapidly adapting population.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that countries with cultural or religious vegan influences have many vegans and vegetarians.
With a deep-rooted history of veganism, India tops the list, with 39% of the population claiming to be either vegan or vegetarian. Israel is runner up with 13%, followed by Taiwan with 12%. Both Italy and Austria also have large vegan and vegetarian populations, with around 10% and 9% respectively.
In China, the government has pledged to reduce overall meat consumption by 50% by 2030, encouraging more people to turn towards veganism, and catapulting the growth of the plant-based market.
Since 2016, the number of vegan and vegetarian product launches across Asia has increased by over 440%.
The plant-based meat market, in particular, is growing rapidly, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15.9%. Globally, the annual growth rate sits at around 14.8%.
Growth is still high in other regions, however. In North America, the CAGR is 14.6%, while Europe has a CAGR of 14.4%.
Veganism has grown in popularity in the Western world, especially in Europe. Recent statistics show that the number of vegans in Europe has been steadily increasing year after year. Between 2016 and 2020, it has doubled.
In 2016, Europe was home to approximately 1.3 million vegans. By 2020, this had increased to an estimated 2.6 million — or around 3.2% of the population.
Portugal, in particular, has seen rapid growth in veganism, with a 400% increase in the number of people turning vegan or vegetarian. Currently, approximately 600,000 Portuguese are vegan or vegetarian.
Germany, Austria, and the UK are among the top European countries with the largest growth of plant-based products sales. In Germany, sales growth of plant-based meat products increased by 76% between
Sales growth also coincides with the number of new vegan product launches. In 2021, the UK launched 566 new vegan products to coincide with Veganuary, showing that not only are new products hitting the shelves, but people are actually buying them. The availability of vegan-ready meals in the UK also hit record highs, increasing by over 92% between 2018 and 2021.
The number of vegans in the UK has increased by 300% between 2014 and 2019. Roughly 1.16% of the population now identifies as vegan. In 2019, 600,000 people adopted a vegan lifestyle — the highest figure so far.
This was likely influenced by a huge shift to veganism in 2018. Around 42% of all British vegans surveyed said they’d made the switch in 2018, leading to the dramatic growth of vegans in 2019.
Even children are eating vegan diets. Currently, 10% of children aged 8-16 are either vegan or vegetarian.
Even without completely committing to a vegan diet, the UK population is finding ways to cut their meat consumption and adopt more of a plant-based lifestyle.
Women, in particular, are opting for more meat substitutes, with 39% of females in the UK saying they eat less meat and more vegan meals compared to a year ago. That said, men are also opting for vegan alternatives, with around 31% saying they consume less meat and more vegan meals than 12 months ago.
The UK has one of the world’s largest vegan markets. In 2018, it released more new vegan products than any other country in the world.
Things have only accelerated further, with the UK holding the top spot for the sales value of meat substitutes in Europe.
Between October 2019 and September 2020, the UK meat substitute’s market generated over €500 million through the sales of meat alternatives. In comparison, runner-up Germany’s meat substitute market brought in nearly €150 million less, with a sales revenue of €357 million despite a larger increase in sales growth.
Germany’s vegan market is increasing rapidly. As of 2020, the vegan market in Germany was worth $256 billion, which is an increase of $26 billion from 2019.
In 2018, 13% of all new vegan products launched throughout Europe were in Germany. Since then, the number of Germans who classify as vegan has grown steadily.
Around 6.31 million people said they followed a vegetarian diet (or largely forgo meat consumption) in Germany in 2018. As of 2021, this has increased to 7.5 million. And across Europe, Germany has the highest share of 18-29-year-olds identifying as vegan, with 5% of people in this age group making the switch.
In keeping with global trends, the plant-based and vegan market is surging in the US.
Back in 2017, the value of the US plant-based market was a mere $3.9 billion, but it’s grown substantially since then. By 2020, this figure nearly doubled to $7 million.
The sales growth of vegan and plant-based products has also accelerated quickly. In 2019, products labelled as “vegan” had the most growth among lifestyle products, with a 1.7% increase in sales. “Plant-based” products came in a close second with a 1.6% increase in sales.
A significant number of Americans are starting to make the switch to veganism. Between 2-6% of the US population is vegan.
Even those that don’t follow a purely vegan diet still opt for meatless meals. Around 95% of people in the US who order vegan burgers say they’re not vegan, showing that even the omnivores among us are enjoying the different options.
The younger US population is more likely to be vegan than their older peers. Approximately 4% of people aged 30-49 in the US are vegan, 3% of 18-29-year-olds, compared to 1% of 50-64-year-olds, and 2% of people aged 65+.
More and more Americans are turning vegan, and the US is seeing a significant rise in the number of vegan restaurants as a result. In 2019, the website Happy Cow listed over 1,474 all-vegan restaurants throughout the US.
Of all US states, Nevada, Oregon, Washington D.C., California, and New York have the highest number of vegan restaurants. California comes first, with over 300 all-vegan restaurants, followed by New York - home to approximately 166 vegan eateries.
Australia’s population is generally consuming less meat, opting for plant-based and vegan options instead.
Meat consumption in Australia has steadily declined over the last decade, with around 19.19kg of beef and veal consumed per capita. Back in 2013, this figure sat at around 23.75kg. It’s projected to decline further in the next few years, while the economic value of vegan food is expected to grow rapidly.
As of 2020, vegan packaged food was worth AUS $215 million, up from AUS $199.8 the previous year. And by 2030, the plant-based food sector is expected to add a further AUS $1.1 billion to the economy.
From plant-based meat substitutes to dairy-free milk, there are plenty of new and upcoming trends leading to the surge in veganism worldwide.
Plant-based “meats” are finding their way into our shopping trolleys as the global population opts for healthier alternatives. 2020 was the best year on record for plant-based meat, seeing a 45.3% growth in sales in the US.
The top reason consumers are buying meat-free options is to try something new, however, not because they follow a vegan diet.
Over 40% of consumers in the US chose meat-free options to try something new, while 30% said it was because they’d heard a lot about veganism and were curious. A further 27% said they opted for meatless choices because they’re trying to eat less meat.
Plant-based burgers are the most popular option of all the vegan meat alternatives, with 74% of US consumers purchasing healthy vegan burgers made with vegetables, legumes, and pulses.
Beef-style alternative burgers are the second most popular option (bought by 68% of consumers), followed by chicken substitutes, accounting for 52% of vegan meat purchases.
Many people choose vegan foods because of environmental and animal welfare concerns. But there are many other key drivers too.
Of all the reasons consumers opt for plant-based meat over animal protein, the taste was the top answer (53%), with most preferring the taste of meat substitutes to actual animal protein.
Around 29% of people also said they opted for meat substitutes because it meant they were less concerned about food safety issues. Not only are we choosing options because they are better for the planet, but we’re enjoying them, too.
With more vegan options available than ever before, more and more brands are claiming space in the market — particularly in the US.
In the US, MorningStar is currently the most popular, with around 23 million consumers saying they purchase meatless products from this brand the most. Boca, Gardenburger, Amy’s Kitchens, and Gardein make up the rest of the top 5 most popular meatless brands among consumers.
Unsurprisingly, MorningStar has the most sales value compared to competitors, generating over $77 million in 2020. In fact, MorningStar generated way over double the revenue of competing brands. Gardein, in second place, only brought in around $20 million in 2020.
Beyond Meat’s space in the market is growing fast.
Around 75% of consumers in the US are already aware of Beyond Meat, although MorningStar still takes first place with 80%. But Beyond Meat’s gross profit has soared in recent years, jumping from $17.57 million in 2018, to $122.28 in 2020 — which is nearly 7 times as much. It’s safe to say we will see more and more of Beyond Meat in our grocery stores.
Vegan dairy alternatives are huge in the plant-based market. From milk and cheese, to dips and sauces, consumers all over the world are seeking out dairy-free swaps wherever possible.
In total, the retail sales growth of all dairy alternatives reached $7 billion in 2020 in the US, increasing over 20% from the previous year.
Sales of vegan spreads, dips, sour cream, and sauces increased the fastest, with an 83% growth in revenue, followed by a 45% increase in plant-based cheese sales. Both butter and cream alternatives also saw an increase of over 30% in sales.
Oat, soy, almond, coconut, you name it — there are tons of dairy-free milk alternatives out there. And we’re enjoying them, because plant-based milk is increasing in demand, and quickly, too.
In 2019, the sales value of dairy-free milk hit $2 billion in the US. By the end of 2020, non-dairy milk sales in the US grew by 25% to $2.5 billion.
Alongside milk substitutes, vegan cheese is also a sought-after dairy alternative.
In 2020, vegan cheese saw the second-highest growth of all plant-based foods, increasing 42.5% in sales globally. The total value of sales in the vegan cheese category reached $270 million worldwide in 2020, and it’s growing rapidly year on year.
The vegan cheese market was forecasted to be worth $2.9 billion by the end of 2021. And by 2024, it is predicted to reach at least $3.9 billion.
Removing animal protein from our diets means that we’re looking for new, alternative protein sources, including pea protein.
Many popular plant-based companies use pea protein in their meat alternative products to increase protein content, which means the market for the ingredient is thriving.
Currently, the global pea protein market is worth an impressive $481 million, but this is forecasted to more than double in size by 2027. In the next 5 years, the market is projected to be worth over $1.1 billion.
Companies are finding ways to offer plant-based and vegan alternatives for just about everything, including indulgent foods.
According to Innova Market Insights research, the number of confectionery products with vegan claims increased with a rapid CAGR of 17% between
It’s clear that the vegan indulgence market is accelerating, with people looking for guilt-free desserts and sweet treats. By 2025, sales of dairy-free ice cream are expected to reach $1 billion globally.
The motivations for veganism vary from person to person, with the most common influencers being the environment, animal welfare, and health. But does veganism actually positively impact these key factors, or is it fiction rather than fact?
Across the globe, we’re becoming more health-conscious, which is one of the reasons why veganism is growing in popularity.
84% of consumers in the US state that their primary motivation for becoming vegan is to improve health and nutrition. Other similar reasons relating to health were top motivators, with 62% opting for veganism to control weight, while 51% claimed they wanted to eat cleaner.
Generally, there is a conception that a vegan diet is a healthy one. In China, consumers stated that they chose plant-based foods more often due to their low-fat content, low cholesterol, high nutritional value, and the fact they’re hormone-free.
Improving personal health isn’t the only reason we’re switching to vegan diets.
A survey from the UK in 2018 showed that animal welfare concerns were the main reason for adopting a vegan diet, with 55% of responses. Environmental issues were also a key motivation for veganism, expressed as a concern by approximately 38% of respondents.
A more recent survey in the US in 2019 revealed similar results, with both animal welfare and environmental impact remaining a key reason for eating less meat. Not only do we believe that plant-based diets are better for us, but better for our planet too.
Veganuary is growing in popularity every year, with thousands worldwide taking part in the month-long challenge. However, it’s not just for fun — recent surveys show that people are sticking to their new habits and cutting down on animal-based products.
In a global survey, most people (48%) said they intended to reduce their meat consumption by 75% or more following their participation in Veganuary. And 25% of people said they’d cut down their meat intake by at least 50%. Only 1% said they wouldn’t change their diet at all, which is a clear indicator that people enjoy veganism's taste and benefits.
A UK survey showed that most shoppers (31.6%) believe that plant-based alternatives are too expensive, preferring to stick to cheaper, animal-based protein instead. A further 25.6% also said they think vegan food is too processed and not as natural as typical meat products, while 23% believe they’re not as good a protein source.
Science has proven that a vegan diet is beneficial for our health, helping with weight management and reducing the risk of heart disease.
In terms of weight reduction, a study showed that a vegan diet helped participants lose approximately 9.3 lbs more than the control group during an 18-week period. Another study into heart disease showed that those who follow a predominantly plant-based diet are 32% less likely to develop cardiovascular problems.
Vegan diets are high in nutrients, including antioxidants, fiber, folate, magnesium, and other key vitamins and minerals. Besides being beneficial for your overall health, a diet rich in these nutrients can help to reduce your risk of certain types of cancer and diabetes.
Studies have shown that consuming legumes (a critical food source on vegan diets) can lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer by between 9-18%. A vegan diet can also help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by as much as 23%.
On average, those that follow a vegan diet have a considerably longer lifespan than meat eaters. This is likely because vegan diets contain no way near as much cholesterol or saturated fat, and most foods are packed full of nutrients.
Female vegans have an increased lifespan of around 6.1 years, while it’s even greater for men. Male vegans, on average, live for approximately 9.5 years longer.
If the global population turned vegan, it’s estimated we could reduce the number of worldwide deaths by 8 million by 2050.
Rearing meat for consumption hugely increases CO2 production.
Beef is the worst culprit, producing around 39 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of meat, while chicken and pork combined only produce 2 kilograms of CO2.
Overall, meat farming is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, making meat production one of the largest contributors to climate change.
Not only does farming livestock produce nearly a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions, but it also leads to excessive water consumption and takes up vital space.
Around 45% of the earth’s surface is used for farming livestock, and 80% of the total farmland available is used to produce meat. If trends continue, we’ll struggle for space to rear the meat needed to feed our growing population.
Agriculture also accounts for 90% of the total US water consumption. On average, it takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1lb of meat. It only takes 25 gallons to produce 1lb of wheat.
People often don’t pause to think about how many animals are actually killed every day to feed the global population.
In the US, around 25 million animals are slaughtered daily. This equates to approximately 70 billion animals for human consumption every year. This number increases even further when we look at animals reared for other purposes. In total, around 160 million animals are taken to slaughterhouses each day.
Switching up your diet to include more vegan foods can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Actually, avoiding meat and dairy products can lower your carbon footprint by as much as 73%.
Worldwide, switching to vegan would create a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions, plus lower the amount of land used for agriculture from 1.6 billion hectares to 540 million hectares.
As a global population, we waste tens of millions of tons of food every year. Meat accounts for 5% of all yearly food waste, equating to 74 million tons. Dairy accounts for 9% of all food waste, with around 143 million tons lost every year.
If the world turned vegan, we could cut food waste significantly, even with the mass amount of fruit and vegetables we throw away. With the food saved from wastage, a plant-based diet could stop many from going hungry, helping to feed a further 10 million people by 2050.
Veganism is on the rise, but what are the key trends shaping the future of vegan culture? Consumers are making switches in all areas of their life, including food, fashion, and beauty.
In the UK, it’s estimated that vegetarians and vegans will make up 25% of the total population by 2025.
In the US, around 9.7 million people are vegan. The vegan trend is mostly driven by millennials, with at least a quarter of all American people aged 25-34 claiming to be vegan or vegetarian.
Around the world, meat consumption is set to decline even further. In the last decade, meat consumption in the US has fallen by around 15% in total, especially red meat.
In China, country-wide efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions include a pledge to reduce the population’s meat consumption by at least 50% by 2030. The health ministry has advised people to eat between 40-75g of meat per day to reduce livestock farming and subsequent CO2 production.
If these trends continue, global meat consumption will drop substantially. By 2040, it’s estimated that only 40% of the global population will eat meat.
The future looks bleak for sales of traditional meat. But we’ll be replacing it with new vegan meat substitutes instead.
The market share of conventional meat is expected to decline from 90% in 2025 to 40% by 2040. Vegan meat alternatives are on the opposite trajectory. The market share of vegan substitutes is set to reach 10% in 2025, rising to 25% by 2040.
Vegan meatless options have traditionally centered around beef and chicken, with other vegan-friendly meat options hitting our shelves in more recent years.
The plant-based fish market is accelerating fast due to increasing environmental and animal welfare concerns, plus a growing health-conscious population.
Between 2021 and 2031, the plant-based fish market is forecast to grow at an annual rate of approximately 28% globally, with new options such as fishless filets, burger patties, and flakes.
As well as vegan substitutes, a new key player is fighting for market space and giving vegan food producers competition. Cultured meat is a relatively new phenomenon, referring to lab-grown meat using cultured animal cells.
For those concerned about animal welfare and the environment, cultured meat offers an alternative — animal protein without any slaughter or greenhouse gas emissions.
The global market share of cultured meat is expected to grow from 0% in 2025, to around 30% by 2040, holding more market space than vegan substitutes. In 2026, the global cultured meat market will be worth approximately $6,200 million. However, in China, it’ll be more than double at around $14,000 million.
North America currently holds the most space in the plant-based meat market, and it’s set to increase further.
In 2019, North America’s market share of plant-based products stood at around 41.79%. By 2025, this is expected to grow to 44.37%, while both Europe and Asia Pacific’s market share will decline slightly.
Interestingly, North America’s market share is primarily driven by a largely lactose-intolerant population searching for dairy alternatives. Demand for no cholesterol and low-fat products is also surging, driving the dramatic increase in plant-based foods.
Vegan alternatives aren’t just for the adult population. Many companies will now be marketing vegan options for babies to new parents.
The number of vegan and vegetarian baby food options in the UK increased by around 10.6% between 2016 and 2021, following the success of vegan baby food companies such as UK-based Mamamade, which recorded a 300% increase in sales during 2020.
Else Nutrition also saw major success in 2020, after releasing a 100% plant-based infant formula milk alternative.
The market for vegan baby food will continue to expand as major brands release new products. Heinz is set to launch an entirely plant-based baby menu, with many competitors likely to follow suit.
Fast food chains are jumping on the vegan train and adapting their menus to include more plant-based options.
Well-known fast food brands have already offered vegan alternatives for many of their much-loved products. McDonald’s released their McPlant burger, and Pizza Hut partnered with Beyond Meat to create a series of plant-based pizzas. Burger King also began to offer a plant-based burger in partnership with Impossible Foods.
In 2020, the global vegan fast food market was valued at approximately $17 billion. This is expected to propel to $40.25 billion by 2028, with an impressive annual growth rate of 11.48% between 2021 and 2028.
Veganism isn’t only centered around food. Many people apply veganism to other aspects of their lifestyle, aiming to eradicate all animal-based products.
The vegan beauty industry is booming, with people searching for cruelty-free products. In fact, one survey showed that 44% of people actively look for cruelty-free products. 40% also said they look for beauty products that contain 100% vegan ingredients.
Currently, the worldwide vegan beauty industry’s market value is around $16.29 billion, which is forecast to grow year on year. By 2025, the market value will be approximately $20.8 billion.
Just like beauty, vegan fashion is growing fast. People want to make vegan choices where they can, from vegan materials (like fake fur and leather substitutes) to making sure no animals are hurt in the making.
In 2021, the US vegan fashion industry was valued at $396.3 billion, with an annual growth rate of 13.6% between now and 2027. Footwear is currently leading the vegan fashion segment, with manufacturers using alternatives to fur, suede, leather, and other materials.
As a global population, we’re bombarded with information on our behavior's impact on our health, the environment, and the animals with whom we share our world. Is it any wonder, then, that millions of us are adapting our diet to include more plant-based options?
Every year, thousands take part in Veganuary. But more interestingly, people are continuing their vegan-friendly habits. Not only are we reaping the health, animal welfare, and environmental benefits, but we’re enjoying the taste of vegan alternatives.
Trends don’t suggest that we’ll cut out meat entirely. But they show that we’re more conscious of what we’re buying and eating than ever before.
Veganism is set to rise, and fast. What swaps will you be making?