How many vegans are in the world right? For the last sixty years, veganism has been the minority of another minority – vegetarianism.
Article updated on the 17th of February 2020.
But for the last two years, we’ve seen that ‘minority’ taking over the world.
The term ‘vegan’ was coined by the co-founder of the Vegan Society Donald Watson, in 1944.
Initially, the term vegan was used to describe ‘non-dairy vegetarians’. The Vegan Society changed the definition in 1951 to make it more comprehensive into “the doctrine of living without exploiting animals.”
Nowadays, the term vegan is used to encapsulate several variations around animal exploitation and the consumption of animal-based products.
Different Kinds Of Vegans?
Overall, veganism is a philosophy that rejects the idea of raising and using animals as commodities.
Described in simpler terms, veganism is one’s choice to abstain from using any animal-based products.
However, things get a bit complicated when we look at the types of vegans in the world.
The advent of veganism in fashion and beyond has created new ‘types of vegans’, catalogued as follow:
The most popular types are ‘vegans by diet’ and ‘vegans by lifestyle’.
Vegans by diet are also known as ‘dietary vegans‘ or ‘strict vegetarians’. Their main concern is the avoidance of animal-derived products such as meat, eggs and dairy products from their diet.
The other type, the lifestyle vegans, also known as ‘ethical vegans’ or ‘moral vegetarians’, extend the vegan philosophy beyond their diets into as many as possible areas of their lives.
Vegan fashion, in particular, has become an important part of the fast-growing segment of moral vegans. Fashion, in comparison to diet, allows them to showcase the moral values that they stand for.
Apart from the diet vegans and moral vegans, there is a third term used to define vegans.
However, this is not a category but more of a justification to why the world should stop farming animals on an industrial scale.
Named ‘environmental veganism’, it refers to the avoidance of animal products, on the premise that the farming of animals on an industrial scale is unsustainable and has a profound environmental impact.
So, How Many Vegans Are In The World?
The total number of vegans, vegetarians, and related categories was estimated to be about 8 per cent of the world population in 2018.
According to ‘The Economist’, in America in 2015, only 3.4 per cent of the population were vegetarian. From that number, only 0.4 per cent were vegans.
A similar survey run in Japan in 2014 shows that 4.7 per cent of the Japanese population is vegetarian, and 2.7 per cent identified as vegan.
The rise is noticeable in many other ways as well. ‘Veganuary’, for example, a movement that encourages people to try vegan products for ‘January and beyond’ shows five times growth since its launch in 2014.
A quick Google search for veganism shows an increase of 580 per cent over the last five years.
Veganism, as a term has received at the end of 2019 almost five times more interest than vegetarian and cruelty-free searches combined. (see below).
In the U.S., the number of vegans went up 0.4 per cent to almost 3.5 per cent in the last two years or so.
According to the ‘Vegetarianism in America’ study published by Vegetarian Times Magazine, 7.9 million people in the U.S. – 3.4 per cent of the U.S. population – follow a vegetarian-based diet.
However, only 1 million of them (that’s approximately 0.5 per cent) lead a vegan lifestyle.
Similarly, the number of vegans in the U.K. has quadrupled over the last five years.
According to ‘The Food & You’ survey run by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the National Centre for Social Science Research, in 2014 there were 150,000.
Right now, in 2020, there are almost 650,000 vegan citizens in the U.K. alone. That’s just a bit above 1 per cent of the country’s total population.
India, thanks to the Hinduism religion, is one of the most vegetarian-friendly countries in the world. The Hindus make for the majority of the Indian population – as in almost 42 per cent, which totals 1.2 billion.
Unfortunately, to date, there is no official data on how many vegans are in India. However, according to a UN FAO report, Indians have the lowest rate of meat consumption in the world.
Number of Vegans By Countries
Now that we have a rough estimate of the total number of vegans in the world, let’s see how that spread across other representative countries.
Below are some key figures relating to the number of vegans, in certain countries across the world.
These numbers were extracted from local reports and studies, and include both, diet and ethical vegans.
- According to a report conducted by the Kurier, there were 0.5 per cent estimated vegans in Austria in 2013.
- A 2018 Canadian survey estimates that 2.1 per cent of Canadian adults are considering themselves as vegans.
- A 2016 German study run by the German Nutrition Society estimates that almost 1 per cent of the population (just a bit over 810,000) are vegans.
- A 2015 survey conducted by Globes and Israel’s Channel 2 News has found 5 per cent of Israelis are following a vegan lifestyle.
- As of 2015, almost 3 per cent of the Italian population is estimated to be vegan.
- Following a 2014 Demoskop poll run in Sweden, 4 per cent (that’s 1 in 10) of respondents said they were vegan.
- According to a Market research run by DemoSCOPE in 2017 in Switzerland, 3 per cent of the population was estimated to be vegan.
Is Veganism Taking Over?
It looks like. From ‘how many vegans are in the world’ we are ending up with how many will be by 2050. Let’s have a quick look.
- The number of vegans in the U.S. grew by 600 per cent from 4 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2018.
- Between 2011 and 2016, Italy had the fastest-growing vegan population with a growth of 94.4 per cent.
- According to Google Trends, the U.K. was the country most interested in veganism in 2019, followed by Australia, and New Zealand.
- The vegan leather alternative segment is forecasted to take over the animal leather market by 2025.
According to a study published in PNAS and re-published by the University of Oxford, if the entire world became vegan right now, the global greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by two thirds – by 2050.
This change alone would lead to massive healthcare-related savings of $1.5 trillion, and the saving of an additional 8 million human lives.
“As climate change impacts food systems, it will be harder to stop it. Adopting healthier and environmentally sustainable lifestyles can be a huge step in the right direction. We should encourage individuals, industry, and policymakers to act and make sure that what we consume preserves the environment and our health”, argues Dr Marco Springmann in his report.
Regardless of their type, reasons, or any other classification criteria, the number of vegans is on the rise.
We see significant pro-veganism movements and growth in Western countries, Eastern Europe, and Israel.
Moreover, as cultures and landscapes change for the better, veganism has started to gain momentum across countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa as well and recent data shows that over the next ten years, at least 1 in 10 people will become vegan.
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