The end of Veganuary is in sight, meaning the 500,000 people taking part in this year’s pledge have a decision to make. On the 1st February, will they embrace veganism for good or revert to eating animal products?
This inspires our next question: could Veganuary be our stepping stone to a vegan future, or is it simply perpetuating the idea of veganism as something you can opt in and out of? So where will Veganism be in 10 years?
The next decade is already set to be pivotal for the vegan movement. The expansion of the plant-based food market, the emergence of lab-grown meat and the rising number of corporations cashing in on veganism will all play a crucial role in deciding the direction we take. Over the next 10 years, veganism could either become a globally-recognised solution to animal cruelty and environmental devastation or just another food aisle in the supermarket.
In a nutshell, the worst-case scenario might look something like this: large corporations continue to piggyback the vegan movement, push out the smaller, dedicated and ethically-driven vegan businesses, and within the decade, veganism is nothing more than a marketing label to slap on ultra-processed fake meat products.
Truthfully, it’s difficult not to feel sceptical about the future of veganism when we can already see a version of this happening. For example, Upfield (the parent company of Flora and Blue Band) bought dairy-free cheese company Violife for £455m just last year.
As large companies identify the potential of the growing plant-based market, vegan brands are being left with two choices:
a) Hope the vegan market is strong enough to keep them in business;
b) Join forces with the very same companies responsible for mass animal slaughter.
Meanwhile, giants like McDonald’s, Nando’s and KFC are growing even bigger, using the money from their half-hearted vegan menus to - you guessed it - kill even more animals.
If this continues, how will vegan start-ups without the same experience or exposure be able to compete? The chances are they won’t - especially as vegan influencers and journalists publicly endorse every new processed, plant-based product churned out by money-hungry animal killer corporations.
Justifying the many benefits of the vegan lifestyle will be challenging if society keeps reinforcing the idea of veganism as a dietary fad. It could become even more difficult as lab-grown meat becomes cheaper, more readily accessible and more sustainable to produce, as meat-eaters will simply shrug off the climate emergency and imagine they’re doing their bit by recycling once or twice a week.
Ultimately, the worst-case scenario shows a world where the meaning behind veganism and the motivation to protect animals from exploitation becomes clouded. But, what’s the alternative?
We are truly optimistic that if we act quickly, the next 10 years could be the most progressive yet. As long as we put the true values of veganism front and centre, we could move ever closer to a world where Do No Harm is our guiding principle. This will take work, but vegans are good at that!
What could the next 10 years of veganism look like in a dream world? Let’s paint a picture.
First, the public stops being seduced by big-name brands with lots of money and few ethics. Yes, this means boycotting the high-street restaurants, clothing manufacturers and beauty producers who top up their yearly profits by offering a range of lacklustre vegan products. Instead, society lends its support to the thousands of vegan brands currently being overshadowed by companies that don’t care about animals, health or the planet.
As a result, vegan brands flourish, and any companies marketing to vegans will need to prove that their ethics align firmly with those of the vegan lifestyle. This will make it much easier for vegans to find sustainable, whole food products (those that leave us and the planet much healthier!) instead of greasy fake beef burgers.
In the best-case scenario, veganism will be shown for what it is: a state of mind and a way of living. After all, there’s much more to veganism than seitan sausages and dairy-free cheese. If after 10 years we’ve moved past this - and can finally hold meaningful conversations about everything from confining animals in zoos to spraying crop fields with poisonous insecticides - then we’ll be in a much stronger position than we are now.
Like the sound of our best-case scenario? Let’s bring it to life.