It was one of the biggest health fads of the past decade. But has the vegan bubble finally burst?
Sales of plant-based options have fallen, pushing companies like Linda McCartney, Quorn and Tofoo into scaling back their product lines.
In a sign the millennial-driven obsession with veganism was starting to falter, Pret A Manger closed half of its vegetarian and vegan-only stores in December, admitting many customers don’t see themselves as ‘full-time veggies’.
Nestle then joined in, pulling two of its plant-based brands from shops due to a lack of demand. Innocent followed, scrapping its dairy-free milk range after joking that just five people had brought the beverage.
In a sign the millennial-driven obsession with veganism was starting to falter, Pret A Manger closed half of its vegetarian and vegan-only stores in December, admitting many customers don’t see themselves as ‘full-time veggies’. Nestle then joined in, pulling two of its plant-based brands from shops due to a lack of demand. Innocent followed, scrapping its dairy-free milk range after joking that just five people had brought the beverage
Then, in June, Meatless Farm, one of the country’s leading faux-meat retailers, went into administration. It sold £11million worth of plant-based mince, burgers and chicken in 2021 — but struggled as demand for meat-free products slowed.
Other brands to have faltered in Britain this year include Yorkshire-based sausage maker Heck, which has dropped most of its vegan products in May after admitting most people aren’t ‘quite ready’ for meat-free alternative, and Swedish oat milk firm Oatly, which withdrew its dairy-free ice cream offering in the UK that same month.
And in August, it was revealed that vegan brand Beyond Meat saw sales slump by almost a third as it struggled with the downfall in demand.
Meanwhile, research from The Grocer suggested that the range of meat-free goods offered in supermarkets shrank by 10 per cent in the six months to March 2023 as firms cut back on product lines.
Experts have blamed the cost-of-living crisis for the downturn, with vegan versions of meat, milk and snacks often costing much more than traditional versions.
Others have suggested companies over-estimated the demand for plant-based products, with surveys suggesting just 1.5 per cent of Brits are vegan.
Food and drink experts have compared the situation to a ‘gold rush followed by a cull’ — with too many products on the shelf forcing manufacturers to cut back on their offerings.
There has also been a spate of high-profile vegans turning their back on the lifestyle.
The chief scout said he felt ’embarrassed’ that he used to promote veganism and now avoids eating vegetables, bread and pasta, instead feasting on red meat, blood and bone marrow.
Wednesday star Jenna Ortega revealed late last year that she ditched her vegan diet after struggling to meet her nutrition requirements and is now pescatarian.
And Liam Hemsworth famously quit being plant-based after struggling with low energy and suffering from a kidney stone, which he attributed to his diet. Kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate, which is found in high quantities in leafy greens and vegetables that are a cornerstone of the vegan diet.
Here, MailOnline reveals the vegans who ditched their plant-based diets after blaming veganism for their health woes.
Social media fitness influencer Tim Shieff, of London, was vegan for six years after being put off meat by disturbing videos of animals being slaughtered.
But the YouTuber, who has 166,000 subscribers, gave it all up in 2019.
Mr Shieff believes the plant-based diet made him ill.
Mr Shieff also complained in his own videos of digestion issues and brain fog, as well as claiming that he ‘couldn’t do push-ups without getting injured’.
YouTube star Tim Shieff apologised to the vegan community for quitting in a video in June and said he was ‘attacked by vegan community’
When Tim took part in Ninja warrior he said that he was strong – despite the vegan diet that he led
Mr Shieff, who was once known as the ‘vegan prince’ and admitted to drinking his urine for two years in a bid to boost his health, broke his vegan streak after eating raw eggs and salmon in November 2018, after which he said he ‘ejaculated for the first time in months’.
He has since become just as vocal about quitting as he was about becoming vegan in the first place, claiming the improvements in his health is evidence that ‘there is something natural in consuming animal products’.
Mr Shieff, who competed on American Ninja Warrior, apologised for quitting in a video on his YouTube channel in June and said he was ‘attacked by vegan community’ when he quit almost four years ago.
In the video, he admitted to feeling like a ‘hero for the planet’ when he went vegan but now ‘strongly believes the vegan diet to be the cause of [his] decline in health’.
Mr Shieff, who previously practiced water fasts and fruit and herb fasts, now praises meat-eating for helping him gain his strength back.
The NHS says people can get all the nutrients they need from following a varied and balanced vegan diet that includes fortified food and supplements.
This includes eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables, lots of wholegrain carbs, such as pasta, bread and rice, fortified dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts, and beans and pulses for protein.
A Youtuber and Instagram influencer who once only ate raw fruit and veg stopped following the strict vegan diet after claiming it made her periods stop.
Yovana Ayres, who lives in San Diego, first made her mark online by sharing her experience with the diet and how it impacted her body.
She went on to tout meal plans and weight loss programmes for up to $99 (£80).
Courgette spaghetti, apples with nut butter and salads were among her recommendations.
But the influencer, who has 1million Instagram followers, admitted that she quit her six-year vegan diet in 2019 after being pictured eating fish.
Yovana Ayres, who has a million followers on Instagram, spoke out about how her raw veganism went wrong in an interview on the Him & Her show podcast in September, pictured left. After quitting veganism her Instagram is filled with healthy recipes, including ones containing meat, milk, cheese and eggs and also liver, pictured right
Ms Ayres claimed she began eating animal products because her period stopped and she had digestion issues.
It is unclear how a vegan diet can cause periods to temporarily stop — a condition called secondary amenorrhoea. However, sudden weight loss and doing too much exercise can cause missed or late periods.
Now, Ms Ayres’ Instagram is filled with healthy recipes, including ones containing meat, milk, cheese and eggs.
Ms Ayres spoke out about how her raw veganism went wrong in an interview on the Him & Her show podcast in September.
The mother-of-one said she initially ‘wanted to know everything there is to know about raw foods’ and ‘thought that was the healthiest way that you could eat’.
But now she believes she just felt better initially for cutting out processed food, junk food, alcohol and cigarettes.
After switching to raw fruits and vegetables, her periods stopped in when she underwent a 25-day water fast.
After two years, she decided it was time to get checked out by a healthcare professional before she started eating a cooked vegan diet.
‘Eventually I went to get blood work done and it came back that I was deficient in some things. I was already craving cooked foods, but year three I include sweet, cooked potatoes, beans and rice and I just switched to a vegan diet’, she said.
Ms Ayres added: ‘I felt a little bit better, but it still wasn’t great. My digestion wasn’t great, my hormones weren’t getting better, my iron levels were never at the optimal.
‘I got to a point where I just had to be honest with myself.’
To get her health back on track Ms Ayres started eating meat again. Now, videos of raw vegan food have been swapped with recipes for cooking meat and dairy dishes including liver.
After being vegan for almost five years, YouTuber Alyse Parker decided to challenge herself to eating a carnivore diet for 30 days.
The former vegan Youtuber, from Connecticut, gained more than 680K subscribers on YouTube and 155K followers on Instagram by sharing her eating and exercise tips.
Alyse Parker, a former plant-based YouTuber, took on an extreme challenge by eating only animal-based products for 30 days
Testing it out: She filmed herself following the carnivore diet for 30 days, and she said at the end she actually felt better with her digestion
Where previous videos were filled with raw salads, avocados and raw sticks of celery, when she ditched veganism she decided to only eat meat for a month in 2019, which triggered a huge amount of backlash from her followers.
Some accused her of ‘extreme dieting’ and called it ‘toxic’.
Ms Parker claimed just eating meat, fish and eggs helped her feel more ‘mentally clear, focused, wholesome, and healthy’ than she has felt in years.
While eating a raw vegan diet, she said she was ‘experiencing health struggles’ that were getting ‘progressively getting worse’.
Since ditching the militant vegan diet, she claims to have banished her brain fog and low sex drive and even lost weight.
Although the Youtuber still shares some plant-based recipes on her channel, she is sticking to a balanced diet which includes meat and dairy products.
Self-confessed ex ‘militant’ vegan Abigail Martin says she quit the vegan diet after she had the ‘worst two years ever’.
The Tiktoker, from San Diego, who has 1.1million followers on the social media site, posted a video in October last year highlighting how after four years of being vegan it started to impact her health.
‘I was eating so healthy, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, vegan protein shakes and trying to get in at least 20g of protein in a day, which is hard being vegan’, she said.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower-fat and lower-sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide
But despite eating ‘healthy’ she felt terrible.
Self-confessed ex ‘militant’ vegan Abigail Martin says she quit the vegan diet after she had the ‘worst two years ever’ in a TikTok video, pictured. The van life Tiktoker from San Diego said she was vegan for four years
Bear Grylls says he’s ’embarrassed’ that he ever promoted veganism
Bear Grylls was vegan for years and even wrote a plant-based cookbook.
But the iconic adventurer now says he feels ’embarrassed’ that he used to promote veganism.
He now shuns vegetables completely, along with processed foods, bread and pasta, with his diet packed with red meat, blood, bone marrow, as well as salted butter, eggs, fruit and honey.
Bear Grylls says he feels ’embarrassed’ that he used to promote veganism – and has now shunned vegetables completely in favour of red meat
The TV presenter, 49, has spent the last two years eating ‘natural food just like our millennia of ancestors would have eaten for hundreds of thousands of years’.
He claims that since ditching vegetables in favour of blood and bone marrow he feels the strongest he has ever felt and that his skin and gut have ‘never been better’.
In an interview in May, he said: ‘I thought that was good for the environment and I thought it was good for my health.
‘And through time and experience and knowledge and study, I realised I was wrong on both counts.’
The father-of-three believes that ‘one of the worst things for the environment’ is food that contains palm oil and soy oil.
‘It’s terrible for the environment, strips rainforests, and kills a ton of animals in the process,’ he said.
He’s also not impressed with processed vegetarian and vegan food that contains seed oils. ‘I used to think they were brilliant,’ he said.
‘And then I started looking at the ingredients and just thought hold on, this is horrific.
‘This is so processed, and it’s full of seed oils.’
She added: ‘I was bloated constantly, I had brain fog my memory was s***, I couldn’t think up a clear thought to save my life.
‘The worst part of it was I was tired constantly; I couldn’t get myself to do anything because I was constantly exhausted.’
Ms Martin also put her weight gain and hormone imbalances down to not eating meat and dairy.
She admitted that ‘veganism is not good for everyone’ and confessed that now ‘social outings are so much better’. She is able to ‘go anywhere’ and ‘feed’ herself without ‘stressing about it’.
Now the TikToker, who shares videos of life living in van, films her food shops and dinners which include meat and dairy.
Meatless Farm has become the latest victim after the Leeds-based company made its 50-strong workforce redundant last Friday and collapsed into administration.
The firm was set up in 2016 and sold £11million worth of plant-based mince, burgers and chicken in 2021 – but has struggled as demand for meat-free products slowed.
It was later rescued by vegan frozen food company VFC.
Oatly has withdrawn its dairy-free ice cream in Britain.
Nestle then joined in, pulling two of its plant-based brands from shops in the UK due to a lack of demand.
Earlier this month, Nestlé also announced it was pulling its plant-based Garden Gourmet and Wunda brands from retail in the UK and Ireland, following lacklustre sales.
THE VEGETARIAN BUTCHER
Unilever’s The Vegetarian Butcher was another big casualty, losing almost a third of its lines, while meat-free classics Quorn and Linda McCartney’s lines were down by 6.6 and 6.7 per cent respectively.
Beyond Meat, was one of the brightest starts of the alternative meat sector. But in its most recent quarter it recorded a loss of almost $15m (£12.4m), and a 23% decline in sales compared with the same period in the previous year.
The Vegan Kind, the UK’s biggest online supermarket dedicated to plant-based products, ceased operations in November due to the cost of living crisis.
Yorkshire-based sausage company Heck cut its vegan range from ten products to two — burgers and sausage. Announcing the news, co-founder Jamie Keeble said that ‘the public wasn’t quite ready. At the end of the day we want to sell products that work on the shelves. These didn’t.’
PRET A MANGER
Pret closed all but two of its vegetarian and vegan-only stores, after admitting many customers don’t see themselves as ‘full-time veggies’.
The drinks company has scrapped its dairy-free milk range after joking that just five people had brought the beverage.
The Tofoo Co — which sells a range of scrambled, smoked and crispy tofu — suffered a 42.9 per cent decrease in range volumes.
However, this year less households bought meat-free products this January compared to last year with only 13.7 per cent of households buying one, according to Agricultural Development Board found.
CLEAN KITCHEN CLUB
Two branches of the Clean Kitchen Club in London closed 18 months after opening.
In April the Edinburgh vegan bar and restaurant Harmonium shut after an ‘incredibly difficult period of trading.
Last month The Vurger Co vegan restaurant group appointed administrators after narrowly avoiding collapse.
The Sheffield restaurant closed in March.
One of Manchester’s first and most popular vegan eatery’s closed its doors in December.
JJ VISH AND CHIPS
Another Manchester staple shut down citing costs
Takeaway that ‘paved the way for vegan junk food’ closed in July.
Liverpool vegan burger restaurant closed in September.
Taunton restaurant started selling meat.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk