Market & Trends

Half of UK Consumers Still Don’t Grasp Meaning of Vegan

A recent study reveals over half of UK consumers want to see more vegan options on menus but are more likely to order if it is labelled ‘plant-based’ instead of ‘vegan’ – a term which appears to be misunderstood even in 2022 according to the findings.

“These findings show that more people may join the veganism movement if wording is changed on menus”

The study revealed that only 50% of consumers fully understood what the term vegan means, with 9% of people believing that vegan food refers to ingredients only green in colour. 

Meaty Burger Meatless Farm
© Meatless Farm Co

Conducted by plant-based producer Meatless Farm and Brakes – one of the UK’s leading wholesalers – the findings reveal that 39% of Brits want restaurants to offer more vegan food, but are dissuaded by the menu description ‘vegan’. 52% claimed the term ‘plant-based’ was more attractive to them when ordering a meat-free dish. 

Such statistics may prove old preconceptions of vegan food still exist, as well as a lack of education on the matter, but may go some way to explaining why big brands are not using the vegan label for new meat-free releases. This is especially true in the fast and convenience food sectors where the vegan label makes food unappealing to a large number of consumers. 

TGI Fridays Meatless Farm
Meatless Farm at ©TGI Fridays

In the survey, over a third felt that vegan options do not sound appetising on menus, while 20% thought that food labelled as vegan does not sound like a treat. Conversely, other statistics show how the number of companies seeking vegan certification is soaring, with The Vegan Society‘s Vegan Trademark recently registering its 60,000th product.

“We need to rethink social labels”

“Food culture is changing, and with that we need to rethink social labels. Whether you’re vegan or not, plant-based meat has advanced significantly over the last five years and appeals to a broad audience,” commented Morten Toft Bech, Founder of Meatless Farm. “We’ve always been committed to encouraging more meat eaters to make the switch to plant-based meat, and these findings show that more people may join the veganism movement if wording is changed on menus,” he added. 

Ultimately, the choice of label – whether it be plant-based, vegan, or even meat-free – will depend on the sector, the market, and the message the brand wants to convey. 

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