The number of vegans in the UK has risen by 360% in the UK over the last 10 years – but caterers are “lagging behind” in providing vegan options on their menus.

According to a recent poll carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Vegan Society and Vegan Life magazine, 542,000 people aged 15 or over – more than 1% of the population – have adopted a plant-based diet, up from 150,000 in 2006. The perceived health benefits of a vegan diet are thought to be driving the trend. Advocates of plant -based eating say vegans typically have lower levels of cholesterol and blood pressure, a lower body mass index, and reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer.

Close to half of all vegans are aged 15–34 (42%), according to the poll, compared to 14% aged over 65. The vast majority of vegans live in urban areas (88%), with almost a quarter (22%) in London. In spite of this rapidly growing number, many caterers are still failing to provide suitable menu options.

Elena Orde, communications officer for the Vegan Society, said: “At least 540,000 people in Britain now follow a vegan diet. This is up from an estimated 150,000 ten years ago, and is showing every sign of continuing to grow rapidly. This is due to greater awareness about the benefits of veganism to the animals, our health and the environment.

“More people are now finding it easier to go vegan due to an increase in vegan products and services. However, many catering establishments are lagging behind, and missing out by not providing for vegans.

“Caterers can open up a whole new market by including just one or two vegan options on their menus, and ensuring that they are clearly labelled and advertised. Staff should be educated about what vegans can and can’t eat, and which options are suitable, or can easily be made vegan. Stocking products such as soy milk, vegan spread and vegan ice cream is a great place to start, and all of these are easily accessible.”

The Vegan Society is currently working on an educational leaflet aimed specifically at caterers. For more information and recipe inspiration visit