The vegan revolution is, thankfully, very little to do with PETA parading naked women about as if they’re the meat, and everything to do with concerns for animal welfare, environmental impacts and health, according to a study by Waitrose.
The figures were based on research amongst shoppers across all UK supermarket chains, not just those who shop at Waitrose, and the overall take home is that one in five Britons is trying to cut their meat and dairy intake in some way or another. Supermarkets are fast trying to catch up with the uptick in veganism, and Natalie Mitchell, Waitress’s head of brand development, told The Guardian: ‘This year, we’ve seen vegan food go mainstream.
‘Whether cooking at home, buying prepared food tr trying the newly vegan-friendly restaurants, people are discovering that it tastes amazing’
It can also be far cheaper than eating meat, carries less of a grunting, ‘I am man, hear me roar over this big fat stake’ machismo and, well, to be frank, when you’re making a vegan dinner, you don’t really have to worry about raw meats or eggs contaminating your chopping board and hands and knives and sink, right?
The Waitrose report also found that two thirds of 18-34 year olds who’d watched Blue Planet, which shows the impacts of Big Plastic on little creatures, are more likely to use refillable plastic cups instead of single-use plastic bottles.
However, all this interesting insight into new eating and drinking habits has been slightly clouded by a furore involving William Sitwell, who edited Waitrose Food magazine. We say ‘edited’, past tense, because he was the editor of the title until an email of his went public.
A freelance journalist, Serene Nelson, who happens to be vegan, pitched him an article on veganism and plant-based eating. His reply? ‘How about a series on killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Exposing their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat? Make them eat steak and drink red wine?’
Nelson then sent this to BuzzFeed as part of a wider pitch about the ways vegans are treated, but BuzzFeed editors thought the fact a food magazine editor would make such a joke was newsworthy in itself. Sitwell, who occasionally appears as a judge on Masterchef, has now resigned his post at Waitrose Food, sparking a debate over whether vegans face bigotry akin to, say, racism (hint: they really, really don't, you can choose seitan, you can't choose skin colour), whether a private email should be a sacking offence and if veganism is about being a snowflake or being moral. Our biggest quandary with the whole fall-out, though, is what we call ‘beef’ in this post-meat world? A 'to-fight' doesn't have the same ring to it...