Vegan statistics – where’s the beef?

POSTED: December 4, 2019

I read an article in the Guardian which began thus:

Veganism has rocketed in the UK over the past couple of years – from an estimated half a million people in 2016 to more than 3.5 million – 5% of our population – today.

I noticed that the phrase ”more than 3.5 million” had a link, so I clicked it to check the source and, somewhat to my surprise, got taken to an article in The Independent.

According to this article, the figure comes from a new survey by that indicates that there “has been a significant spike in the number of people going vegan in the UK since 2016, with more than 3.5 million British people now identifying as such”.

This, asserts The Independent, means that seven per cent of Great Britain’s population now shuns animal products altogether. This in turn shows a substantial increase since those published by The Vegan Society and Vegan Life magazine in 2016, which found 540,000 vegans over the age of 15 living in Britain.

So now we know.

Or do we?

I decided to look at the figures from myself, to see if they contained a more detailed breakdown. I discovered that the site operates as a comparison site for insurance and similar services. As far as I could see, it offers no links to this, or any other, surveys or research, except for something it calls the Simples Lab, which you can check out for yourself.

It does, however, offer Meerkat rewards for meals and movies, if you purchase something through them. In their own cheery words, “Buy a qualifying product with us and we will reward you with Meerkat Meals and Meerkat Movies for a whole year! So you can enjoy 2 for 1 on mouthwatering meals and brilliant blockbusters.”

Does the Independent gets its statistics from here, I wondered, and does it get Meerkat meals for using them? More generally, does this count as a usual route by which ”facts” enter the public domain?

Even odder then all this though: the legal small print at the bottom (in the footer, as we say in the biz) of the site has a link to their CEO’s statement about their compliane with the Modern Slavery Act. Apparently they abide by all its provisions.

I did not quite know what to make of this at all.