Nearly one in 10 men say they ate vegan in January, driven primarily by health concerns, a new survey for The Grocer has found.
A further 9.3% cut back on meat and dairy during Veganuary, while 4.1% tried to go vegan but failed.
By comparison, just 5.6% of women said they went vegan during Veganuary, with 8.2% cutting back on meat and dairy and 3.2% trying but failing in their Veganuary quest.
The number of men in the survey (conducted by Harris Interactive with 1,069 adults) who claimed to have attempted or taken part in Veganuary far exceeds those who formally signed up to the campaign. Just 11% of the 250,310 people who did so in 2019 were men, according to the organisers of Veganuary.
“Men might be more resistant to ‘officially’ committing to go vegan for a full month and might prefer to have a go at it themselves, without signing up,” said Rachida Brocklehurst, digital manager at Veganuary.
“They might decide to try it for a shorter length of time, such as a week, or go plant-based in the week and non-vegan at the weekends.”
Health was the top reason men gave for taking part in Veganuary (cited by 47.6%), while 29.7% said they wanted to detox after Christmas. A similar number (29.1%) said they took part in Veganuary to save money.
For women, animal welfare was the top reason (36.4%), with health in second (35.3%).
Men’s participation in Dry January could partly explain their interest in Veganuary, suggested Edward Bergen, global food & drink analyst at Mintel.
“Our research shows the largest demographic segment who are using the event as a reason to reduce alcohol consumption are men aged 25-44,” he said.
“Veganuary takes place during the same month. The organisation says that women have been most likely to follow the month-long plant-based diet in the past. However, there has been a wider societal shift when it comes to veganism. In fact, our data shows no difference between men and women aged 16-34s who have claimed they have reduced their meat consumption.
“In conclusion, men have already used the month of January to focus on their health, and take up a challenge. Veganuary offers another opportunity for men to focus on their health, while challenging themselves.”
Overall, 31% of consumers in our survey who gave Veganuary a go said it was “easier than I thought” and 25% said they did “better than expected”.
“This may in part be due to the increased selection of vegan options on offer,” said Celia Ward, senior research executive at Harris Interactive.
“Three in 10 consumers are pleased to see more choice offered by supermarkets for those wanting to follow a plant-based diet. With brands and retailers continually introducing new plant-based products, those taking part in Veganuary were not short of vegan alternatives.”
Growing awareness of plant-based protein options may also have persuaded more men to give veganism a try, though more work needed to be done on that front, Brocklehurst added.
”There are still misconceptions about animal products being the ideal way to get enough protein into the diets, especially for those who exercise frequently,” she said.
“We’re hoping to have more male-centric content moving forward to quash those worries and showcase some of our favourite vegan men and plant-based athletes that aren’t having any trouble.”
Despite the strong participation numbers, only a quarter of those who did Veganuary intend to stay vegan from now on, though 47% say they will eat more plant-based foods.