An increasing number of societal observers suggest that veganism â€“ which in dietary terms is the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals - is set to be one of the major trends of 2018.
Already, tens of thousands of people have committed to â€śVeganuaryâ€ť where they will adopt this diet for the whole of this month thus adding to the growing number of people who have taken up this diet.
According to the Vegan Society, the number of people considering themselves vegan in the UK has grown from 150,000 a decade ago to over 542,000 today and looks set to develop further over the next few years.
Much of this trend is down to younger people adopting this lifestyle with 20% of under 35s having tried a vegan diet (as compared to one in 10 of the rest of the population). In fact, nearly half of all vegans were in the 15-34 age category which suggest that further growth as younger generations embrace this lifestyle choice.
Indeed, a recent survey from the Vegan Society suggested that UK consumers are demanding more meat or dairy free options from the menu when eating out. For example, half of those questioned said they welcomed the rise in vegan foods available in cafes and restaurants.
At a global level, recent data has shown that 70% of the worldâ€™s population is reducing its meat consumption and since 2010, the number of new vegan products has increased by over 250%. The fastest growing market for vegan products is set to be China, with an estimated growth rate of 17% between 2015 and 2020.
Whilst meat consumption in the UK is declining, sales of vegetables are estimated to increase by 20% by 2021. Incredibly, the global almond milk market by itself has expanded by 250%in the last five years and is now worth £650m.
Given this, it is not surprising that large businesses are beginning to identify opportunities for new products that take advantage of the growing demand for vegan food and drink e.g. the vegan cheese market alone will be worth nearly £3bn by 2024.
Some examples of recent developments include Pizza Hut adding vegan cheese to its menus in the UK, Italian restaurant chain Zizzi launching a vegan avocado pizza earlier this month, Wagamama having a full vegan menu and even Nandoâ€™s selling two vegan burger and wrap options.
As an alternative to milk products, Ben and Jerry have introduced a new non-dairy ice cream and Baileyâ€™s now has an almond milk-based version of its Irish Cream.
Given this, one can only surmise that that the number of vegan options will increase in both restaurants and supermarkets over the next few years. This may in itself not be as a result of a massive growth in veganism but an increasing choice from mainstream consumers (including myself) to opt in occasionally to buy vegan food as part of their ethical or health choices.
And it is becoming easier to find those establishments that can cater for vegan or vegetarian tastes. For example, HappyCow - founded in 1999 - is an online service that help millions across the world find vegan options and healthy food every month.
Other useful apps include Is it Vegan? which, through reading the barcodes of packaged foods, determines whether it is vegan and if not, what the non-vegan ingredients are; and Vegan Express which helps to find all the vegan options on the menus of chain restaurants.
And whilst existing restaurants are changing their menus to make the most of the growth in veganism, other specialist food outlets are catering only to vegans.
As a foodie in Cardiff, I can honestly say that Anna Loka in Roath is simply one of the best restaurants (vegan or not) that I have ever eaten at and has helped to persuade me and others that vegan food is as good (and certainly healthier) as any other type.
Therefore, veganism looks set to grow over the next few years although as the Vegan Societyâ€™s own survey pointed out, nearly half of the UK population would still never consider becoming a vegan even if they knew they would lose weight, improve their health and have a genuine impact on animal welfare.
That said, given that the UK Food and Grocery market is set to be worth £213bn by 2022, there are certainly going to be opportunities for businesses to take full advantages of this trend as vegan foods take a larger slice of the market over time.