We all know veganism is booming - no longer a fad, or a fringe lifestyle. Veganism is a movement; it's normal, it's cool and the tide of new vegans doesn't show any sign of abating.
In the U.S. there are more than 16 million people over 17 who identify as vegan. In the UK, the number of vegans increased 360 percent between 2006 and 2016. This doesn't even include vegetarians or the vegan-curious who are slowly transitioning.
The demand for vegan products and services: food, consumer items, clothes, lifestyle products and restaurants is growing at incredible rates, with plant-based food sales spiking by 8.1 percent between 2016 and 2017.
While products like milk have been forecast a drop in sales, we are also seeing more demand for vegan and cruelty-free clothing and shoes, cosmetics, personal care, health and well-being products and much much more.
We've seen full vegan ranges of meat alternatives in many supermarkets: Tesco stocks the plant-based Wicked Kitchen range; Waitrose now has a dedicated vegan section; Sainsbury's sells plant meat alongside animal flesh in its meat aisle. Sales of Iceland's vegan ‘No Bull' burger recently outstripped those of its Wagyu beef counterparts. Vegan ‘bleeding' steaks flew off the shelves in Tesco recently, with 40,000 untis almost selling out within a matter of days.
Start thinking about ‘veganising' your business now
Never was there a better time to veganise your business.
Not only can you tap into this booming market for goods and services, but you'll also be contributing to supporting people to shift to an ethical and socially conscious lifestyle and consumer pattern.
Interestingly, for this particular niche market, is the fact that vegans like to meet each other. So businesses that both provide a service to vegans as well as opportunities to connect with each other have real potential for success.
Let me give you some examples of local small business success recently. Good friends of mine have opened up a 100 pervent vegan lounge in Worcester called ‘Be the Change'.
A few years ago this would have been a real fringe activity, but they are creating absolutely incredible food, and through a vibrant crowd funding campaign they have engaged people in their vision.
Even in the small, conservative town of Worcester they are fully booked and even those on their ‘supporters wall of fame' struggle to get a table.
Another colleague is busy setting up an adventure holiday company with his sights set on planning exciting bespoke trips for vegans, and plant based people only.
Sick of being the person who has to eat side dishes in restaurants at the end of hard hikes, he's sworn to make sure his clients can be guaranteed delicious nutritious and hearty vegan meals throughout the day.
This is the kind of service we are likely to be seeing a huge demand for as the number of people transitioning to plant based diets grow.
Many restaurants are creating a unique vegan menus, including major restaurant chains such as Pizza Hut and Wagamama, but even smaller local restaurants are providing way more than just the standard one vegan option.
In Bristol particularly, we are seeing a huge number of restaurants making real efforts to put together delicious plant based menu options.
Last week, we held a vegan business networking meeting in Bristol. I was surprised and encouraged at the number of great start up business owners who came together to look at how they could collaborate and learn from each other.
We had vegan software developers, graphic designers, content developers, cake creators, meal plan developers, athletic supplement distributors, and the list goes on.
It's clear to see that people are excited and engaged in developing products for a growing vegan market and that vegan business people like the idea of working together.
There are several other business ideas that spring to mind when I think about serving the vegan consumer market.
For instance, you could combine veganism with the increasing trend towards remote working, co-living and co-working around the globe.
Vegan business coaches are also beginning to emerge, not to mention vegan and plant-based health coaches. Some other ideas include vegan experiences such as cooking courses, cheese making, vegan yoga retreats and vegan food tours.
The list goes on and on. In fact there are so many ideas that even the vegan bloggers behind The Minimalist Vegan site have developed a list of all the 38 business ideas they have had but have no time to pursue like vegan socks and vegan dessert parlours.
More and more people are catching on to the idea of creating new products and services for the socially and environmentally conscious consumer with labels such as vegan, Fair Trade, organic and eco-friendly becoming more of an expectation than a value add.
It's pretty easy to find ways to open up most business options to a vegan market, and before you know if you have yourself a niche market who you identify with. What better way to do business than when your ideal client is someone who shares your values, principles and conscious, compassionate lifestyle?
Ask yourself: in what ways can you open your business up to vegan and more conscious consumers? Do you have an idea for a new business with a vegan angle? Or perhaps you wish someone would provide a particular product or service?
The Vegan Business Exchange - where vegan and ethical business people can share ideas, challenges, support and build networks - is coming to Bristol on July 24 at Raw Space at 6.15 pm. You can find out more here
Sabrina Lee is the Founder ofIn Kindness and In Health