Vegans and plant-based people in the UK are moving to more unprocessed basic foods like pulses and grains due to the cost-of-living crisis the country is experiencing. From a possible combination of Brexit, the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, and political instability, the grocery price inflation in the UK is very high (14.7% as of the end of October 2022), and that, coupled with the very high rise of the cost of energy, is making many consumers change habits.

This consumer shift is affecting fake meats in particular, which are more expensive, and their market growth seems to have slowed down. In the US, the fake meat company Beyond Meat recorded a loss of almost $15m (£12.4m) in the most recent quarter and a 23% decline in sales compared with the same period in the previous year. Friederike Grosse-Holz, cientific director at Blue Horizon, said this regarding this decline: “Some people might have hyped this [sector] more than made sense from a business perspective. I think it is really coming from a hype to a healthy growth trajectory, rather than a hype to death.” 

Louisianna Waring, the senior insight and policy officer for the Vegan Society, said to the BBC, “the cost-of-living crisis in the UK has a big impact on food purchasing decisions… In the last few years, we have seen some vegan product categories in the UK see double, and even triple-digit, growth. This huge boom was always likely to lead to a slight decline in sales where the market stabilises, innovates, and then increases again.”

Not only vegan processed food is affected by the UK economic crisis, though. Sales of animal meat are down as well. A September 2022 survey of UK adults by the consultancy Public First found that 28% were buying less meat in response to the soaring cost of living. This is to be added to a gradual decline in meat consumption in the country that has been happening for some time. According to a study about UK consumer trends, the average daily meat consumption decreased by approximately 17·4 g per capita per day between 2008–09 and 2018–19, with people consuming less cow and processed meat, more chicken, and the same amount of fishes. This represents a fall of about 17%.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.