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January 31, 2019

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UK restaurant innovates and cashes in on veganism craze

Teenage London restaurant manager Abdul Muhaimen settled his first-year university bill by cashing in on a rising trend: veganism.

Working with his father, the owner of City Spice restaurant and Michelin star chef Rupert Rowley, they created 14 vegan dishes paired with vegan wines. The result was a 170 percent increase in sales at their establishment on Brick Lane, a bustling east London street known for its curry houses.

“I realized, from an innovation sense, that there was no vegan Indian cuisine so I thought this is a feasible concept,” said 19-year-old Muhaimen, a student at Birmingham University.

From restaurants in Cape Town and Los Angeles to London-based hair salons using vegan products and leather-free clothing shops, veganism is gaining steam. Veganism and broader food issues are on the agenda at recent World Economic Forum in Davos, an annual event that draws more than 1,000 political and business leaders to the Swiss mountain resort, with several panels dedicated to related topics.

Founded five years ago, British-based charity Veganuary has rallied more than 225,000 people worldwide to follow a plant-based diet and avoid dairy, eggs and honey — usually eaten by vegetarians — during the month of January.

“It’s no longer a counter-culture movement. It’s a movement that has entered the mainstream,” Richard Hardy, head of Campaigns at British-based Veganuary, said.

The demand for plant-based foods is increasing with the global meat substitute market expected to reach US$7.5 billion by 2025, a jump of 83 percent, from US$4.1 billion in 2017, according to a study by Allied Market Research.

A report by US-based Grand View Research said the global vegan cosmetics market is estimated at US$12.9 billion.

According to the Veganuary website, the main reason people sign up to go vegan is animal welfare, followed by health benefits and environmental impact. For restaurants, it is a movement to capitalize on, according to Hardy.

“People are being driven onto the high street and into the supermarkets because of the exciting new (vegan) foods that are there,” he said. “If you’re not keeping up, you’re going to miss the boat.”

The challenges surrounding the surging pressure on crop production to feed a global population expected to surpass 9 billion by 2050 were also addressed in Davos.


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