Going vegan was a woke badge of honour

“HAVE you heard about Sue? She’s gone vegan.”

If I had a Brussels sprout for every time someone had uttered a similar declaration to me, I’d be able to supply Christmas dinners from here to actual Brussels.

A UN paper this week claimed a plant-based diet could actually only have ‘marginal’ benefit for many countries
As the plant-based food industry has grown, so has the number of its products that could be bad for you in other waysCredit: SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Smugness reigned as the permanently right-on embraced this new food fad to bolster their “I’m a better citizen than you” credentials.

Then came the avalanche of vegan products, which grew more and more cynical and ludicrous each day.

Complete saturation occurred when McDonald’s — which buys nearly 2BILLION POUNDS of slaughtered cow a year — brought out the McPlant.

But now it appears many of us are becoming fed up of being fed all these meat-free monstrosities.

Sales have nosedived — and more and more plant-based food firms are being weeded out.

Yesterday we revealed that Heather Mills, Paul McCartney’s second veg-obsessed wife, now ex-wife, has been forced to put her vegan food firm VBites into administration.

No longer may the world get to gorge itself on such gourmet delights as plant-based “fsh fingers” (first ingredient: Water) or Cheddar Cheezly, a tantalising dairy-free concoction of coconut oil and “modified maize starch”.

An “extremely distressed” Mills blamed everything from “corporate greed” to “misinformation” from the meat and dairy industries and “Brexit” (of course) for VBites having bitten the dust.

VBites follows Beyond Meat — home of the “chicken style” nugget (first ingredient: Water) — which announced last month it was laying off a fifth of its staff due to “consumer headwinds”, leading to a nine per cent drop in revenues.

“Consumer headwinds” is a cute euphemism for “people don’t want our stuff”.

And more and more don’t.

Sales of meat alternatives are down 13.6 per cent over the past year and even supermarkets are slashing their vegan products.

Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have all cut their vegan ranges by ten per cent.

There are many theories put forward for this fall, cost being one.

Vegan products are often more expensive — 300g of Quorn mince is the same price as 500g of beef mince.

Another is simply that people missed meat.

Figures released in August from Statista showed that the meat consumption of a typical Brit has risen from 55.8kg a year in 2012 to 61.7kg in 2022.

Dead animals, we love ’em!

The rise in burgers — notably “smashed burgers”, pressed into the grill to make them crispier — has been singled out as a driver.

New burger joints are springing up everywhere.

Sick of being lectured

Five Guys has unveiled plans for another 140 restaurants and Burger King has announced it will open 60 more outlets in the UK by 2025.

Even the smaller chains are absolutely packed.

I saw this with my own greedy eyes at a branch of The Beefy Boys in Cheltenham the other week, a carnival of carnivores, where ordering a burger with FOUR patties is pretty standard.

I gazed in awe at the two lads at the table next to mine slowly scoffing their way through the Phat Boy Platter, comprising two burgers, bacon fries, wings, pastrami fries and not a morsel of tofu in sight.

Other diners gawped open-mouthed as if watching a striptease.

But it’s not just a desire for fried flesh that is causing vegan food manufacturers a headache.

Consumers have rightly grown sick of being lectured at by an industry that wants to shame us into believing that not following a vegan diet is akin to flame-grilling the planet.

It’s the self-satisfied posturing from firms like Beyond Meat, whose website boasts: “Meat that’s better for the planet.”

Or Impossible Foods: “They’re delicious, packed with nutrients, and better for the planet.”

Now those claims are starting to look like they have all the substance of a plant-based patty.

A United Nations paper for the COP28 summit this week claimed a plant-based diet could actually only have “marginal” benefit for many countries.

Yes, such a diet would cut greenhouse gas emissions by four per cent — but better farm productivity could cut them by 20 per cent.

Bogus bangers

So not quite the environmental panacea we were led to believe.

And it’s not just the health benefits of a vegan diet for the planet that have come under scrutiny.

How good it is for us is also under the microscope.

Yes, in the main a plant-based diet does have significant health benefits — it can decrease the risk of getting those pesky concerns like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

But as the plant-based food industry has grown, so has the number of its products that could be bad for you in other ways.

Ultra-processed foods are the current big dietary no-no and vegan tucker puts up a strong showing in this arena.

All those bogus bangers, synthetic steaks and fake bacon are likely the result of numerous industrial processes.

And many are packed with sugar, salt and the kind of stuff you’re more likely to find in a chemistry lab than your fridge.

There is more sugar and salt in a Greggs vegan sausage roll than in its meat equivalent.

So not much better for the planet and not much better for you either.

Now, who’s up for Veganuary?

Sales of meat alternatives are down 13.6 per cent over the past yearCredit: Getty


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