No longer simply a diet, veganism is growing into a fully-fledged lifestyle that informs everything vegans touch.
In the US, the number of vegans has risen by 600% in the last three years, according to a report by research company Global Data, and in the UK has quadrupled between 2014 and 2018 according to Mintel. In response to growing demand, major supermarkets like Tesco, Asda and Waitrose introduced plant-based and vegan product lines in 2018. A tidal wave of fast food behemoths are also releasing vegan options – in April 2019, Burger King announced plans to roll out the meatless Impossible Whopper nationally, following White Castle’s partnership with vegan Impossible Meats in September 2018, while Del Taco began serving Beyond Meat tacos in April 2019 and Carl’s Jr. added Beyond Meat vegan patties to their menu in January 2019.
There’s no denying it: the vegan diet is solidly entrenched in mainstream culture. Recently, the rocketing popularity of meat- and cruelty-free foods has translated into an explosion of vegan-friendly fashion, with a stream of luxury designers pledging to go fur-free, popular brands adopting innovative alternatives to leather and the first ever vegan fashion week hosted in Los Angeles in February 2019.
But now, veganism is gaining traction in farther-flung sectors like hospitality and interior design, as the movement grows into an all-encompassing lifestyle. “The products that we surround ourselves with will get to the stage where food is now,” said Don Kwaning, whose lino leather provides a vegan substitute for leather upholstery.
Vegan interior design is coming into the spotlight thanks to firms like Miami-based DiMari Designs and London-based Studio Can-Can, which both specialize in vegan, cruelty-free and ethical designs. “Vegan interior design is still in its infancy in the UK, but this is changing fast,” said Studio Can-Can’s Emily Turnbull. “For the past few years, whenever I typed in ‘vegan interior designer’ to Google, there would only be two ladies in the US and me over here in the UK. This is no longer the case.” Megan Markle and Prince Harry took a large step to ensuring this when they made headlines earlier this year by choosing a vegan paint for their son’s nursery.
Goop is also making strides to bring attention to vegan homewares. The buzzy lifestyle site has partnered with American homeware brand Buffy to sell a vegan-friendly blanket. In April 2019, Buffy released a new comforter crafted with 100% plant-based materials. The stuffing, casing and threading on the duvet are all made from natural eucalyptus wood pulp fiber, making it not only suitable for those who lead a vegan lifestyle but also fully biodegradable.
Hotels are taking this one step further by constructing domains that are entirely free of animal byproducts. Opening on June 15, 2019 in Scotland, Saorsa 1875 will be a fully vegan boutique hotel dedicated to “showcasing ethical luxury.” Every aspect – from the electricity to the staff uniforms – will be ethically sourced and free of animal products. The hotel’s electricity will be provided by Vegan Society-certified Ecotricity, the toiletries and cleaning products will all be eco-friendly and certified cruelty-free and the bar and restaurant will offer fully vegan menus. Saorsa 1875 co-founder and head of lifestyle Jack McLaren-Stewart said he hopes the hotel will “dispel the myth that veganism is somehow restrictive or based around abstinence.”
In February 2019 Hilton unveiled the “world’s first vegan suite” in their London Bankside location. The room, designed in partnership with multi-sensory experience design firm Bompas and Parr, is outfitted exclusively with plant-based materials. The room is entirely free of leather wood and feathers, replacing traditional materials with plant-based key cards, eco-cotton flooring, soybean-silk curtains and buckwheat pillows.
“We want to show people that veganism isn’t just a compassionate, ethical choice; it’s also an exciting, vibrant way of life,” said Saorsa 1875 co-founder and head of lifestyle Jack McLaren-Stewart.