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What is veganism?

A lifestyle that avoids all animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey; animal derived products like leather; and, as far as possible, products tested on animals.

The Vegan Society’s formal definition is: "Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

Veganism is a protected belief

Veganism attracts protection under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and ethical veganism is a protected characteristic for the purposes of the British Equality Act 2010.

A well-planned vegan diet is suitable for everyone

The Vegan Society and The British Dietetic Association work together to show that well-planned, vegan-friendly diets can support healthy living in people of all ages, and during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

How many vegans are there in Great Britain?

The number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019. In 2019 there were 600,000 vegans, or 1.21% of the population; 276,000 (0.46%) in 2016; and 150,000 (0.25%) in 2014.

Purchase rate for vegan food and drink products

In 2020, it was found that the UK buys a third of all the vegan alternatives sold in Europe. Plus, the UK's purchase and consumption rates of vegan: milk, "meat", butter/margarine, cheese, ready meals/food to go and "seafood" are the highest in Europe.

In 2018, the UK launched more vegan products than any other nation, and in 2019 nearly one in four food products launched in the UK was labelled as vegan

About The Vegan Society

The Vegan Society works to help more people become vegan with confidence, encourage more trusted Vegan Society Trademarked products to be available in shops, and take veganism to the mainstream. It provides information and guidance on various aspects of veganism for new and potential vegans, caterers, healthcare professionals, educators and the media. It also co-ordinates a variety of campaigns to raise awareness of the lifestyle.

The Vegan Society runs a mentoring scheme to help people who would like to become vegan called the Vegan Pledge. The number of Pledgers has doubled in the last year, with over 1000 people taking the Pledge each month.

Our multi-disciplinary Research Committee consists of over 25 academics pursuing research on a range of topics within veganism. Please let us know if you wish to speak to a specialist and we will recommend someone.

The Vegan Society is the oldest vegan organisation in the world and was founded in 1944. At the establishment of the Society, founder Donald Watson and his wife coined the term ‘vegan’ to describe the lifestyle of what were then called the non-dairy vegetarians. The word ‘vegan’ was created from the first and last letters of ‘vegetarian’.

When was the first vegan cookbook published?

The first animal-free cookery book, Kitchen Philosophy for Vegetarians, was published in England in 1849 by William Horsell of London. A review of the book claimed that “…butter and eggs are excluded” (Vegetarian Advocate, September 1849, p.10), making it the first known 'vegan' cookbook.

The first US vegan cookery book, entitled The Hygeian Home Cook-Book; or, Healthful and Palatable Food Without Condiments, was published in the USA in 1874 by Russell Thacher Trall, MD, a founding member of the American Vegetarian Society in 1850.

The first cookery book to use the new word ‘vegan’ in its title was Fay K. Henderson's Vegan Recipes published in 1946.

Famous vegan athletes

  • Peter Siddle - Australian cricketer
  • Rich Roll
  • Brendan Brazier
  • Matt Danzig
  • Scott Jurek
  • Dean Howell
  • Frank Medrano
  • Robert Cheeke
  • Fiona Oakes – elite marathon runner who broke the female elapsed time record for completing the Seven Continents & Polar Ice Cap Challenge
  • Jim Morris
  • Cam Awesome
  • Meagan Duhamel - Olympic figure skater
  • Patrik Baboumian - strongman
  • Zak Covalcik, vegan track cyclist
  • Helen Fines - British runner
  • Josh Garrett - extreme distance hiker
  • Yassine Diboun - marathon Runner
  • Leilani Munter - racing driver
  • Kara Lang- Canadian womens football team
  • Esther Hahn - surfer
  • Sarah Stewart - wheelchair basketball player
  • Billy Simmonds - bodybuilder and winner of Mr Natural Universe 2009
  • Vicky Cosio -  tennis player
  • Peter Ebdon  - world champion snooker player
  • Emily Jans - kickboxer
  • Amanda reister - boxing champion and bodybuilder
  • Dr Ruth Heidrich - accomplished distance runner
  • Steph Davis - world-recognised climber
  • KennethG Williams – American bodybuilding winner
  • Michael Zigomanis - professional ice hockey player
  • Christine Varderos - cyclist
  • Keith Homes
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