January is a great time to try out new healthy menu choices – but do punters really want pubs to chuck out the burgers and bring on the butternut squash?

 

Perhaps a good place to start this discussion is how Greggs broke the internet this week with its vegan sausage roll. Inevitably, Piers Morgan got in a bit of a tizzy about it.

 

 

Then McDonald’s launched a vegan wrap and a vegan version of a Happy Meal. Inevitably, Piers Morgan got upset about that too.

 

 

Welcome to the divisive world of veganism – and one of its biggest drivers: Veganuary.

The rising popularity of Veganuary is becoming a driver of the vegan food trend both in the short and long term. Launched a couple of years ago, it has become so popular that hundreds of thousands of people engage with it each year.

In 2018, 168,542 people signed up to go vegan for a month, and this figure is set to rise this month, with the campaign hoping to get around a quarter of a million or more signed up.

But is it just for “PC-ravaged clowns” (as Piers proclaims) or is it a vital trend that pubs must get on board with?

Maybe addressing the term "flexitarian" is useful here.

Some may hate the word (surely it is just being an omnivore…?) but it does neatly encapsulate those who identify as meat eaters but are trying to cut down on the fleshy stuff a few times a week, and occasionally grab a vegan bite.

The figures for those signing up for Veganuary last year do also suggest people who often chow down on a steak are just as likely to grab a salad, at least in the health kick zone of the first month of the year.

Forty-seven per cent of those doing Veganuary in 2018 were meat-eating omnivores, a testament to the growing trend of the flexitarian.

Perhaps the most important issue for pubs is to start thinking about the same person wanting either a massive beef roast or a butternut squash risotto, and not consider them different punters anymore. The truth is that your old dad ordering a pie & chips with a pint of cask every time are in decline - or at least not transfering to the next generation.

Pier’s idea of an average male being Mad Men’s Don Draper chewing on a 14 oz T-bone, and the other being Swampy foraging in the woods, is pretty old school as well. It could be time to reassess the stereotypes on the menu...

 

If you want more info on Veganuary, as well as point of sale material related to it, head to the campaign’s website. There is also a great collection of recipes that can be put together easily.