The Rise of Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyles

The Rise of Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyles


Over the last few years the food industry has changed beyond recognition: sugar-packed sweets and drinks are losing public interest, while governments and food manufacturers find themselves under increasing pressure to make their products healthier.


The health food movement has become a growing trend due to a greater cultural and social awareness of nutrition and childhood obesity.


Veganism on the Rise


Vegan and vegetarian fringe movements have become two of the fastest-growing lifestyle choices over the past decade. The vegan society estimated that the number of vegans has climbed sharply from 150,000 in 2006 to 542,000 in 2016.


We wanted to explore how the UK’s interest in vegan, vegetarian and gluten free lifestyle choices has developed over time. By charting Google Trends data, we can illustrate how the UK’s public interest has changed over the last decade.


Looking at the chart, we can see that searches for the term ‘Vegan’ were next to zero in 2010, but the concept has since become much more popular, rising rapidly from 2014 onwards.


‘Gluten Free’ also received very little search interest in 2010, but this term has since surpassed searches for ‘Vegetarian’.


What Caused this Explosion of Interest?


Olivier Petter, a reporter at the Independent, postulates that the rise of Instagram has played a big role in making vegan and vegetarian lifestyles more mainstream.


Petter quoted Beth Trundle, head of food at the marketing agency Social Chain, who asserts that the ‘personal nature of the platform allows individuals to integrate veganism into relatable and stimulating posts whilst simultaneously dispelling a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes around what it means to be vegan’.


To take a broader view, Tim Barford, manager of VegfestUK and speaking to the Guardian, believes that governmental campaigns persuading people to eat healthier has led to a ‘systemic change in the way that we’re approaching food and the way that we feed ourselves’. That there is an evident ‘growing cultural shift’ among millennials which is built around justice and the way we view animals.


Breaking Down Searches by Location


Next, we dive into the top 10 cities for each search phrase.

Percentage of Searches for Vegan


Crowning our ‘Vegan’ search list is Brighton, one of the most progressive and trend-setting cities in the UK.


The South as a whole seems to be adopting vegan lifestyle trends the quickest. We can also see Glasgow sneaking in at 4th – surprising for a city known for its battered food.


Percentage of Searches for Vegetarian


There’s been a wider social awareness of vegetarian lifestyle choices, so we expected a more diverse spread of results, but Brighton and Bristol take the top spots yet again. Interestingly, London doesn’t make it into the top ten.

Percentage of Searches for Gluten Free

gluten free22-10-2019-11-58-46.png

While Brighton tops the list yet again, this time Plymouth just about breaks in at 2nd for most searches for ‘Gluten Free’. This being said, Plymouth, Norwich and Bristol all seem to have an equally keen interest in gluten free lifestyle choices.


You can find the complete set of data here -







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