There is much debate about those who choose to eat vegan food or plant based part of the week, rather than becoming a ‘full time’ vegan.

There are many people who choose to have meat free days but prefer not to become full time vegan or plant based.  And there is often great debate on whether one can be a part-time vegan.

In my opinion, you can’t be part-time vegan, but you can enjoy vegan food as often as you like – the more the better.  So if that means 5 days of the week, great because that means for over 71% of the time you are eating plant based – which is awesome.


The numbers add up

About 1% of the UK population identifies as vegan – which means they eat a plant based diet but also adopt the vegan lifestyle.  There is also about 3.25% vegetarians. A further 30% want to reduce their meat intake (Ipsos MORI research) – these are the Reducetarians.

So making some estimates, lets have a look at what the impact going meat free can have.  Taking the days in a week against the equivalent proportion of the population for both the 30% of Reducetarians and the total UK population, we can see the results below.  So for example, if Reducetarians opt for 1 day a week plant food, that is the equivalent of 3.1million people doing it every day of the week.

Days of plant food per week Number of full time equivalents for 30% Reducetarian group Total population
1 3,125,714 9,377,143
2 6,251,429 18,754,286
3 9,377,143 28,131,429
4 12,502,857 37,508,571
5 15,628,571 46,885,714
6 18,754,286 56,262,857
7 21,880,000 65,640,000
So half the week or 3.5 days 10,940,000 32,820,000

Population estimates as per ONS November 2017.  65.64million total of which 2.13million are estimated to be vegetarian.

So this tells us that if Reducetarians were to go meat free for half of the week, that would equate to almost 11million full timers. Thats almost 17 times the current number of vegans.

Or, if the whole population were to go meat free just one day a week it would equate to 9.3million full timers! Thats over 14 times the current number of vegans. 


What does this mean?

Tobais Leenhart aka the Vegan Strategist said “most people eat meat because people eat meat”, so logically “most people would eat plants if most people ate plants!”

So imagine a world where the Reducetarian, or part-time vegan foodie (not part-time vegan – that isn’t a thing) and plant based people – who fit into this 30%, embraced an extra day or two a week, equating to an extra 3million to 6million full time vegan/plant based equivalents!! This would be revolutionary.

And this is why I believe the part-timers are just great.  Whilst there is critical place for vegan advocacy through those of us who wear the vegan label with pride, it is equally important to support and encourage those who do not identify as vegan or plant based, and yet make plant based food choices.


Fuel demand and change the world

The demand for vegan plant based foods that this significant group will drive demand, and create more supply.  The world where “most people eat plants because most people eat plants” would be in reach.

My view is not about a lack of desire for the world to become vegan in the next five minutes, better still right now – but rather a pragmatic approach of how real significant and meaningful change can be achieved.

Every vegan meal matters, every choice for a plant based alternative fuels demand and creates the need for greater supply.

Imagine the improvement in the health of our population, the significant reduction in environmental impacts, the animal lives saved, the money individuals would save, etc etc…. and all because a critical mass of people are willing to make a change 1,2,4 or more days a week…. wow.

By developing that critical mass of demand, we can make even more significant change happen and who knows when there are even more amazing vegan and plant based options out there – maybe those who at first choose a day or two a week of this diet, will be tempted with another day too…. until one day, we wondered why we ever ate animals in the first place.