Veganism on the rise across the EU

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Veganism has grown in popularity in recent years.

In a recent US study, the Statista Global Consumer Survey found that about five percent of respondents were vegan.

Countries where veganism is on the rise include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Iceland, Sweden and Estonia to name a few. There are also many more vegetarians in the world. For example, about 40 percent of the population of India identify themselves as vegan or vegetarian (including lacto-ovo-vegetarian and pescetarian).

As a result, global vegan food sales have seen a sales boom from US$14.5 billion in 2020 to US$15.8 billion in the following year, and this is expected to continue increasing in the coming years.

Eating meat and replacing it with protein-rich plant foods, as well as vegan milk consumption over animal milk, health concerns and weight management are some of the main reasons behind this shift in dietary preferences. Global consumption of meat substitutes increased from 133 million to 470 million kilograms between 2013 and 2020.

Global consumption of meat substitutes increased from 133 million to 470 million kilograms between 2013 and 2020

As a result, the food industry has had to shift its focus from farm to fork to meet these increasing demands. Food products, ingredients, and manufacturing processes have all changed to better accommodate this increased consumption. New food products have required the processing industry to invest in new equipment that is automated to meet the growing demands of food production.

The EQVEGAN project, funded by the European Commission under the Key Action 2 projects, intends to offer innovative training to professionals and students working in the food technology sector to enable upskilling and skills transformation according to market needs, to accelerate the qualification growth of this industry.

MCAST is one of the partners in this project and will offer modules in environmental literacy, plant-based technology, digital skills and automation to support the local food industry with the skills gaps created by sector-specific labor market demands.

More information can be found on the project page website.

Kenny Muscat is a lecturer at MCAST and leads the EQVEGAN project on behalf of the college. He can be contacted via email at Kenny.muscat.edu.mt.

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