It’s great being a European vegan because pretty much everywhere you go (well at least in the big cities), there are always a good few vegan or vegetarian cafes with vegan options to explore. Then there are the supermarkets too–gone are the days when bread, a packet of crisps, and some hummus (if you were lucky) needed to be your evening meal.
But, there was a time when ‘mainland Europe’, as we Brits like to call it, was definitely a tad behind when it came to veganism. Now though, things seem to not only have changed, but to actually have reversed!
In the post Brexit referendum era it’s hard for a Brit to admit this, but now I think it’s time to come clean: yes, Britannia did use to rule the waves, it is true. But we’re losing the battle when it comes to ruling the (vegan) craves!
Veganism is becoming mainstream in the UK, Europe and particularly in places like the USA and Australia. Hardly a day goes by without something new hitting the shelves of major supermarkets–vegan cheese/Gary, new ready meals, even (finally) vegan Quorn! But, the more and more I travel, the more and more I notice just how much the UK is seemingly lagging behind.
On a recent trip to The Netherlands in a small supermarket I was overwhelmed with the choices of vegan ‘meats’, including a new range of Tivall vegan products, far more Alpro yoghurt products than in the UK and even a wide range of products from the Netherlands’ very own Vegetarian Butcher (De Vegetarische Slager), which also has branches across the country. In Austria, even the tiny Spar franchise at Vienna airport had a whole chiller devoted to vegan products (most of which were their own brand), and in small outlets of leading chains in Brussels I saw a whole host of options. With Veganz supermarket chains popping up across Europe, and big chains of vegan and veggie take outs like Greenway in Belgium, Universo Vegano in Italy and amazing vegan burger joints like Krowazywa and their many copy-cats in Poland, maybe it’s time for the UK to step up a gear.
London is, in fairness, a bit of a hub for vegan stuff, with our first fully vegan supermarket now open (albeit a small one), a vegan store and even an amazing vegan and free from ice cream parlour, but we could definitely still raise our game.
So why is the UK lagging behind? Maybe it’s a supply and demand thing, maybe it’s a logistical thing, or maybe veganism just still isn’t as cool or normal as it should be in the UK. Things are changing, and I hope they changes quick–because us vegans ‘ain’t going nowhere anytime soon!
About the Author: The London Vegan has worked in the animal welfare industry for over a decade and currently heads up the UK office of a leading international animal welfare and conservation charity. He can regularly be seen speaking at animal welfare marches and speaking about wildlife issues on TV and in the press. A vegetarian since his teens and a vegan for around 5 years, he loves discovering new vegan cafes and restaurants every time he travels.
Image Source: London Picture | Time Out