For some years since its advent, the Veganism food movement has sat firmly in the corner of Very Wholesome and Good-for-you. Sometimes, to a crazy extent.
In the mid 2010s, a great source of entertainment and fascination in the Vegan world was Australian youtube personality Leanne Ratcliffe, better known as Freelee the Banana Girl. A controversial figure in the community, Ratcliffe promoted a radical vegan lifestyle of raw foods, and mostly fruits, calling herself a ‘fruitarian’.
Several other figures like her demonstrated this curious phenomena of elevating diet choices almost to the level of religion — a loud minority which might have put some people off veganism half a decade ago. 5 years on and a whole lot of global changes later, veganism has got a lot more normal.
Vegan items are found in supermarket shelves, safely in the zone of the Ordinary. We see the token vegan food item on menus of big chain restaurants such as Nandos and various pizza places, and we see vegan options in Starbucks and Costa. We also see the plant-based items creeping towards the zone of comfort food and sweet treats.
What are key trends in Veganism today? Here are three interesting ones.
Weekend Food Consumption Habits: Indulgence VS Recalibration?
Are weekends a time for indulgence or a time for reflection?
Analysis of search interest data over the last three months revealed something interesting to us: Searches for the term ‘vegan’ peaked during the weekend, before falling again when Monday rolled around. This could mean two things:
- After spending Monday to Friday largely desk-bound, coffee-dependent, and likely indulging in one too many takeaway boxes after pulling long nights at work, people are viewing their weekends as a time to undo the damage done. The rise in search interest on weekends suggests intention to eat cleaner, although whether that translates to action is unsure. What this shows us is that the implicitly agreed-upon ‘day of reset’ has shifted from start-of-week Monday to start-of-weekend, on Saturday.
- Search interest for vegan food and drink during the weekend is performed in preparation for the week ahead, to make up for the weekend gluttony. People are involved in the act of near-term resolution-making for the week ahead, resolving to eat healthier and looking up food items and advice.
Sweet tooth: Vegan desserts are in
Fast-rising search queries over the last month show a cluster of queries indicating that people are looking for not-so-healthy vegan food.
We see a 110% worldwide increase in the query ‘vegan desserts near me’, and a whopping 90% worldwide increase in searches for vegan apple crumble, and a 70% rise in searches for ‘vegan cupcakes near me’.
Unhealthy vegan food is not new, but so far, we’ve only seen savoury offerings make it to mainstream popularity. Think of Quorn’s chicken nuggets, the Beyond Meat’s burger patty, and vegan sausages from these same brands. Where they’ve been on the sweet side, we think of things like vegan ice cream and perhaps the odd vegan cake on a hipster cafe’s menu. Could this be a chance for players in the vegan field to form the next household name?
KFC’s Vegan Chicken Burger arrives in Canada
Back in the savouring vegan food space, we see hallmark fast-food brands known for their comfort food meat dishes serve up vegan alternatives. Within the last month, global queries for KFC vegan chicken increased 80%, and the location specific query for ‘kfc vegan chicken canada’ increased 120%, as KFC launched its vegan chicken in stores.
A quick google search shows us that following the footsteps of KFC, popular UK fast food chain LEON is launching a vegan breakfast as well.
What interests us immensely is this news of KFC bringing out a vegan line. KFC, born out of a cafe in the American South, is arguably one of the most prominent expressions of Southerner culture and identity that went global.
Within the American South identity, certain food items are instrumental in southern identify formation — fried chicken being one of them. Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, KFC positioned itself as a brand with an offering of authentic, Southern fare. We see this Southerness even in the logo of the smiling Colonel and the red color — connoting virility, vibrancy and being full-flavored.
Moving with the times?
What does this addition of a vegan chicken (if this phrase can even be semantically permitted) burger mean for the overall branding of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and how successful will this new addition be?
We’re excited to run these posts of the vegan chicken through our Culture AI to see what it shows- but maybe that’s a thought for the weekend!
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