Why I’m delighted by rise of vegan food, even though I eat meat – Angus Robertson

A greater choice of vegetarian food will help people eat a healthier diet and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, writes Angus Robertson.

Greggs' new vegan steak bake, launched for Veganuary. Picture: PA
Greggs' new vegan steak bake, launched for Veganuary. Picture: PA

Dry January is not the only choice that people are embracing after Hogmanay. According to Google Trends, the search stats for ‘Veganuary’ and ‘veganism’ have reached an all-time high.

For a growing number of people, a vegan diet is not just about health, but about the impact of food production on the environment.

Only last year a United Nations report looked at the impact of diet on the planet and concluded that reducing meat consumption could have a major effect in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

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Now Scottish farmers are appealing for co-existence with vegan campaigners and highlighting their efforts to produce sustainable products and increase biodiversity throughout our rural areas.

With 94 per cent of households still buying meat, fish and poultry weekly, we are a long way from endangering meat production, but people’s eating habits are changing.

The biggest single change in food retail is meat-free products, with the number Britons eating them shooting up from 50 per cent in 2017 to 65 per cent in 2019. Sales of meat-free foods have grown 40 per cent from £582 million in 2014 to £816m in 2019. Last year 23 per cent of all new food product launches in the UK were labelled as vegan. This trend exists, even though only one per cent of people stick to a purely vegan diet.

As a non-vegan and non-vegetarian I’m delighted to be able to have a better and more balanced diet by eating more vegetables and non-meat products. In the long run that’s bound to make a difference to our health and the environment.