2017 has been a wonderful year for veganism. Current affairs this year might have been exhausting and, frankly distressing, but knowing that veganism is becoming more mainstream and accessible – with all of the amazing implications this has for animals, the environment and people’s health – is cause to celebrate!
So charge your glasses, make sure you’re sitting comfortably, grab your fave veggie snack and relax as I take you on a journey of vegan highlights in 2017:
The number of people taking part in Veganuary in 2017 grew by 260% compared to 2016, with close to 60,000 people signing up to take the vegan pledge. Veganuary crunched the numbers and worked out that because of this around 14,012,825 animals were spared! An incredible start to the year! If you’re reading this and wondering about trying Veganuary 2018 there’s more info right here.
In February I enjoyed a slightly daft story about how a “Man wearing a ‘vegan’ tank top gets DOUBLE the matches on Tinder versus identical profile that shows him in a ‘bacon’ shirt”. I also enjoyed the comment from the reader below-the-line on the Daily Mail story about this who said “So none of the ladies like a sausage.” Very wry.
March bought us exciting news from British supermarket Asda which became the first supermarket to use the official Vegan Society trademark on its food. Label-reading is a skill many vegans acquire when they adopt their new lifestyle and the easier it is to spot vegan-friendly items the better.
“I have written and directed a film about veganism. I’m sorry. So said Simon Amstell about ‘Carnage: Swallowing the Past’ – a mockumentary set in a future Britain where meat, eggs and dairy are outlawed. But he needn’t have been sorry as it was a sharp, witty film, released on BBC iPlayer in March, which asked us to think about how we’d look back on the way we currently treat animals.
In April the Bagel Factory started selling vegan-friendly cream cheese by creating a bagel filled with non-dairy cream cheese, avocado, tomatoes, and black olives. Sounds lush.
Vegans were able to raise a glass of Guinness to celebrate that after hundreds of years the famous Irish stout, which had been filtered using isinglass (a protein which comes from dried fish swim bladders) was now vegan-friendly on tap! Guinness also promised that the full distribution of vegan-friendly stout in bottles and cans will be in place by the end of 2017.
In June there was a high-profile story of a vegetarian beef farmer who donated his cows to a sanctuary and started a vegan farm. Jay Wilde sent 63 cattle to a Norfolk rescue centre as he could no longer bear to send them to be killed. He said: “Cows have good memories and a range of emotions. They form relationships. It was very difficult to do your best to look after them and then send them to the slaughterhouse for what must be a terrifying death.” I think Jay is my hero.
Also in June, Okja was released on Netflix and allegedly led to a spike in the number of people googling about veganism. Okja, a gentle giant pig, and the girl who raised her are caught in the crossfire between animal activism, corporate greed and scientific ethics. Empire Magazine said it was: “A pot-bellied fable unlike anything else you’ll see this year. Not since Babe has an adorable porker inspired such peculiar joy or unexpected heartache.” You will need your tissues for this one lads.
An advertisement stating that “humane milk is a myth” was cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority following complaints from members of the dairy industry that it was inaccurate and misleading. This was a landmark ruling which hopefully led to more people looking into the dairy industry and the way that both male calves and female dairy cows are treated.
The British Dietetic Association confirmed that vegan diets support healthy living. One of the UK’s longest-standing organisations that represents dietetics and nutrition, the British Dietetic Association said in August that “a balanced vegan diet can be enjoyed by children and adults, including during pregnancy and breastfeeding.”
For the first time Pret released a Pumpkin Spice Flat White that was vegan-friendly! No more PSL-envy for vegans, pumpkin spice for all! They also announced that they were set to open a third Veggie Pret (on Exmouth Market, in Clerkenwell). I’m really hoping that 2018 will see the launch of Veggie Prets outside of London.
Bad news for my waistline but great news for my tastebuds… Dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was launched in the UK! Available in Chunky Monkey, Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Peanut & Butter Cookies. Our freezers will never look the same again.
And ANOTHER vegan product launch: Baileys started selling Baileys Almande in the UK– holidays really are coming!
Oh and more good news. Launched on Saturday 30th September, Broadway Vegan Market was London’s FIRST weekly vegan Market. We’re gonna need some bigger trousers!
There were new members of the Veggies Club in October (the first rule of Veggie Club is you DO talk about Veggie Club) with David Attenborough talking about how he had decided to ditch meat and Lewis Hamilton going vegan too.
Leonardo DiCaprio announced that he was “Proud to invest in plant-based Beyond Meat as livestock production is a major driver of carbon emissions.” Marry me Leo!
In news that made me want to weep with joy (seriously my Vegenaise habit is no joke), Sainsbury’s announced that they’d started selling Follow Your Heart’s Vegenaise in stores in the UK. If you’re worried that going vegan means no more mayo, worry no more!
And MORE high-street options for the v-gang! Wagamama launched a new vegan menu featuring 29 plant-based dishes. Talk about (Katsu) Curry-ing favour with us herbivores…
Think there are no more possible high street restaurants that could offer up vegan options in 2017? Think again! In November it was announced that after a trial-run Pizza Hut would now sell VEGAN pizzas nationwide!
Marks & Spencer launched a brand new vegan and vegetarian range. The new range featured 13 products, including, for the first time ever two plant-based soy proteins (replicating beef mince and chicken chunks) both of which I’ve tried and loved.
BBC News reported that ‘Sheep can recognise human faces’. Cambridge University researchers were able to train sheep to identify the faces of actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Emma Watson, former US President Barack Obama and BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce. We need to be reminded that farmed animals aren’t just lumps of meat but intelligent, curious and sentient creatures. That no doubt enjoy as much pleasure from looking at Jake Gyllenhaal’s face as I do.
For the first time ever I was spoilt for choice with the frankly amazing range of Christmas sarnies available in the UK. Tesco, Leon, Pret, Marks & Spencer, Caffe Nero, Crussh, Eat, Paul and Boots all came thru. Ding dong!
Moby donated $250,000 to a number of animal rights organisations using profits from his Californian restaurant Little Pine. What a wonderful thing to do.
The first ever vegan cinema advert was shown on the 1 December and will be screened until 4 January. The advert follows the story of Hope the pig who was rescued from slaughter with her six piglets, contrasted against the lives of the unfortunate pigs who are not rescued.
PHEWF! What a year. I’m sure I’ve missed loads of 2017 vegan highlights (if I’ve missed YOUR personal highlight please tell me in the comments below) but these alone show that things are getting better for vegans all of the dang time! What will 2018 hold in store? I’m so so excited to watch this space…