Veganism goes mainstream: eateries look to capitalise on movement
Teenage London restaurant manager Abdul Muhaimen settled his first-year university bill by cashing in on a rising trend: veganism.
Working with his father, the owner of City Spice restaurant, and Michelin star chef Rupert Rowley, they created 14 vegan dishes paired with vegan wines. The result was a 170% increase in sales at their establishment on Brick Lane, a bustling east London street known for its curry houses.
"I realised, from an innovation sense, that there was no vegan Indian cuisine so I thought this is a feasible concept," said 19-year-old Muhaimen, a student at Birmingham University.
From restaurants in Cape Town and Los Angeles to London-based hair salons using vegan products and leather-free clothing shops, veganism is gaining steam.
Veganism and broader food issues have been on the agenda at this week's World Economic Forum in Davos, an annual event that draws more than 1,000 political and business leaders to the Swiss mountain resort, with several panels dedicated to related topics.
Founded five years ago, British-based charity Veganuary has rallied more than 225,000 people worldwide to follow a plant-based diet and avoid dairy, eggs and honey - usually eaten by vegetarians - during the month of January.
"It's no longer a counterculture movement. It's a movement that has entered the mainstream," said Richard Hardy, head of campaigns at Veganuary.
The demand for plant-based foods is increasing, with the global meat substitute market expected to reach $7.5bn (R103bn) by 2025, a jump of 83% from $4.1bn in 2017, according to a study by Allied Market Research.
A report by US-based Grand View Research said the global vegan cosmetics market is estimated at $12.9bn.
According to the Veganuary website, the main reason people sign up to go vegan is animal welfare, followed by health benefits and environmental impact.
For restaurants, it is a movement to capitalise on, according to Hardy.
"If you're not keeping up, you're going to miss the boat," he said.
At Davos, the "A New Dialogue for Food" panel focused on innovating for nutritious, sustainable food and alternative proteins, and the "Alternative Diet, Healthier Planet" session looked at meat consumption and its role in reducing carbon emissions.
Participants have also discussed the challenges surrounding the surging pressure on crop production to feed a global population expected to surpass nine billion by 2050.
In mid-January, researchers unveiled a proposed "planetary health diet", the result of a three-year project commissioned by the Lancet health journal and involving 37 specialists from 16 countries. It recommends halving the global average consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar while doubling the consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes.