Most Popular Countries and Cities for Vegans in 2020 (Jan-2021 Update)
A year to forget – that’s what 2020 was for so many people, as well as hordes of companies and industries, but not for the vegan movement. Veganism had a blast – its popularity and adoption continuing to surge at record highs.
Veganism had a blast – its popularity and adoption continuing to surge at record highs.
We turned again to Google Trends and Google Adwords, two reliable sources of big data, to analyze the popularity of veganism worldwide and find out how it has been impacted by the pandemic.
Google Adwords data shows a massive increase in the number of searches for vegan-related searches in 2020, up 47% year-on-year. To put things into perspective, veganism is now almost twice as popular as it was just five years ago, and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.
Vegan-related searches were up 47% in 2020 compared to last year.
The month with the highest number of searches worldwide is January, a testament to Veganuary, the movement that has become hugely popular especially in English-speaking countries. In German-speaking countries and Scandinavia, Veganuary has only become popular since last year.
A huge variety of vegan-related searches are performed every day from recipes to vegan cheese, vegan chocolate, restaurants, vegan pet food and even vegan coca cola.
While people make some of these searches out of curiosity, a high volume of vegan-related searches, such as vegan recipes or vegan restaurants near me, show a clear intent to eat vegan.
But interest in things vegan far exceeds the realms of food. millions of searches are done every year for vegan shoes, cosmetics, vegan travel and vegan laundry detergent.
Over 10 million Google searches are done every year for non-food vegan products such as vegan shoes, cosmetics, vegan bags, leather and vegan laundry detergent.
Rather than halt the rise of veganism, the pandemic has actually added fuel to its popularity. Searches for both food and non-food related vegan items show strong growth.
We also turned to Google Trends, another Google-owned data analytics tool, which lets you easily analyze and compare the popularity of various search categories around the world such as veganism, comprising vegan-related searches made in any language (e.g. “veganism”, “vegan restaurants near me”, “vegane rezepte”, “vegan essen”).
Google Trends allows you to benchmark the popularity of veganism across the world by providing popularity scores for various topics. For example, if Portland, Oregon has a veganism popularity score of 100 and Berlin, Germany has a score of 86, it means that a higher percentage of Portlanders searched for vegan foods and products compared to Berliners.
Google Trends shows the countries and cities with the highest concentration of vegans.
It does not mean that the overall number of searches was higher, as Berlin has a population 6 times larger than Portland, so the overall number of vegan searches is likely higher in Berlin. Put otherwise, Google Trends shows the countries and cities with the highest concentration of vegans.
Let’s take a look at the most popular countries and cities for veganism in 2020.
1. United Kingdom (Score: 100)
It’s now the third year in a row (it shared first place with Australia in 2018) that the UK has ranked as the most popular country worldwide for veganism.
So popular is plant-based eating here that three of the top 10 cities worldwide are in the UK.
There is a high demand for restaurants that serve vegan food as searches for vegan restaurants have tripled in the past four years, from 60,000 searches per month in 2017 to over 200,000 in 2020. Demand for vegan cheese and other vegan food has skyrocketed as well.
Interest in non-food vegan items, which usually peaks during the holiday shopping season, has also exploded in Britain.
Searches for vegan shoes (147,000 searches in November 2020) and vegan bags (25,780 searches in November 2020) have more than doubled in the past 4 years alone, though the pace of growth in 2020 was much less than in previous years.
However, other vegan non-food items, such as makeup and perfume, have held steady for the past few years and have not seen the explosive growth experienced by other categories.
2. Australia (Score: 88)
Australia has one of the largest vegan communities in the world and was the most popular country worldwide for veganism for two years.
However, despite the growing popularity of veganism locally and the media attention it has grabbed over the years, only 1% of Aussies, roughly 250,000 people, identify themselves as vegans, according to a survey.
Climate change and its severe impact on Australia, which has experienced extreme heat waves, has only added to the debate about farming and meat consumption. As a result, meat-consumption has started to decline in the country, though Australians still consume more meat per capita than pretty much most of the world.
Google Adwords data shows encouraging trends for the local vegan community. Searches for vegan restaurants have almost tripled in fours years, searches for vegan recipes also recorded an all-time high in 2020, aided by the pandemic lockdowns, and demand for non-food related vegan items is strong as well.
There were close to 30,000 local searches for vegan shoes in November 2020, an all-time high, and twice as many as 4 years ago.
Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Adelaide, Melbourne and Geelong were the top five Australian cities with the highest concentration of vegan searches (in exactly this order).
3. Israel (Score: 86)
With over 5% of the population claiming to be vegan, Israel is clearly taking up the vegan trend. Health, environment, and animal cruelty are major factors.
But unique to this newly-formed country is the mix of the traditional Mediterranean diet of the area and the strict dietary laws of Kosher food – the separation of meat, dairy, and parve, which is pretty much vegan apart from the fish gelatin and honey, which means it has been easy to embrace veganism.
And with less than half the population being native to the region, the immigrant mindset of looking for something new has to be a big reason veganism has become so popular.
4. New Zealand (Score: 85)
Setbacks in the country’s ability to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change will only add fuel to the veganism movement. Research from the University of Otago found that if every adult in New Zealand adopted a vegan diet and minimized food waste, the emissions saved would equal about 60% of the emissions from cars and vans.
Google Adwords data shows a surge in interest for vegan food and non-food vegan items. There were 53% more Google searches in January 2020 for things like vegan recipes, vegan cheese, vegan lasagna and vegan shoes compared to January 2019. We analyzed searches for the month of January, generally a peak for vegan-related searches.
5. Austria (Score: 80)
Austrian food is packed full of meat and dairy – check out the list of 16 most popular Austrian foods on Wikipedia where the only veggies are horseradish, onions, and sauerkraut.
So it’s a comforting surprise to see Austria at its all-time high for veganism and ranked 5th worldwide vegan-embracing country. According to Veganonboard, 1.2% of the population live a vegan life and you can now even find a vegan schnitzel and strudel.
5. Germany (Score: 80)
Big pork eaters, the US Department of Agriculture reports Germany is Leading a Vegalution – Vegan Revolution – Europe.
Now, nearly 10% of the population are vegetarian and 1.6% eating vegan, the highest rate in Europe, and the numbers are increasing every year.
Three German cities feature in the top 10 worldwide, and the country itself is becoming a leading producer of meat substitutes.
7. Switzerland (Score: 70)
According to a 2019 survey, a full 31% of Swiss have reduced or completely cut meat from their diet. That’s a huge number. And by including those reducing meat consumption, the figure is probably more reflective of the growing worldwide trend.
Picking up on this trend, Migros, the Swiss supermarket, this year launched a new V-Love barbecue range – just in time for a stay-at-home summer.
8. Sweden (Score: 69)
Despite its long winters making it a bit difficult to produce great quantities of veg, and its meat-based traditional cuisine, veganism is booming in this health-conscious, climate-savvy land. So much so, it is home to the first vegan school in all the Nordic countries, and is a leading force in vegan food innovations.
9. Canada (Score: 66)
Changes in diet are always led by the people. But the government agency Health Canada actually prioritized plant-based foods over meat, seafood, and dairy in its 2018 Food Guide, giving the vegan trend a serious boot.
One survey reports the number of vegans in the country doubled between 2018 and 2020. It’s not just the vegan food that’s increasingly popular. Canadians don’t do things by half and they are embracing the full vegan lifestyle, from cosmetics to fashion.
10. Ireland (Score: 64)
Veganism has been popular in Ireland for some time, but the plant-based cuisine has enjoyed even greater popularity lately. A recent Wellwoman Vegan study found nearly half of Irish people said they would go vegan for environmental and ethical reasons and 37% would change to a vegan diet permanently.
11. Netherlands (Score: 63)
You know a country has embraced a plant-based diet when their meat sales fall. And that’s what’s going on in the Netherlands – sales of meat have dropped 9% since 2017. The trend is so fixed that butchers are now working with meat substitutes and supermarkets are increasing their vegan range, which rose 51% over the same period.
12. United States (Score: 57)
There can’t be many top 15 lists where the USA comes way down in 12th place – but that’s just how massive the growth in veganism is worldwide. If there were any doubt about the sustainability of the plant-based diet in the US, recent research shows there has been a 300% increase over the last 15 years. That’s a massive 9.7 million Americans following a vegan diet.
Oregon is the most consistently vegan state, driven of course by Portland, this year’s vegan capital of the world.
13. Denmark (Score: 53)
Denmark is a world leader in organic food and that respect for nature is perhaps a key reason why such a herring-loving country now ranks as a top vegan destination.
But it has been slow getting started and vegan travelers have found it hard to find good vegan food outside Copenhagen. But if you are in the capital, there’s plenty of fabulous plant-based food to savor.
14. Finland (Score: 52)
The last of the Nordic countries on the list, the number of Finns seeking vegan food quadrupled in the 4 years up to 2018. Finns don’t go vegan for environmental or ethical issues. Nor are they driven by health concerns.
They choose vegan for the taste. And that’s great, because plant-based is delicious. But rather than cook for themselves, many are reportedly relying on processed meatless foods, high in salt and sugar. Meatless does not always mean healthy!
So how does vegan food compare to traditional Finnish cuisine? The answer lies in our article on the most popular Finnish foods.
15. Slovenia (Score: 45)
It’s the first time that Slovenia has made it into our top 15, though it may be not that surprising given many of its neighbors (e.g. Austria, Hungary – particularly Budapest) have very strong vegan communities.
One of its local vegan Facebook communities has over 12,000 members – no small feet for a country of just 2 million. According to the same source, vegan restaurants are rather sparse in Slovenia, but you can order plenty of vegan dishes at regular places.
15. Chile (Popularity Score: 45)
One of the most prosperous countries in South America, Chile is leading the vegan trend on the continent. Already used to a diet full of seasonal produce, the Chileans are looking big time at plant-based eating.
Santiago now has 115 vegan-friendly stores and restaurants, and you’ll even find vegan empanadas and soy burgers on street corners.
Top 15 Most Popular Cities for Vegans in 2020
1. Portland (Popularity Score: 100)
Portland has reclaimed its title as the vegan capital of the world after being outranked by Bristol in the UK for the past two years. Bristol saw low vegan-related search activity, especially in the second half of the year, and was dropped off by Google from its rankings of major global veganism hubs.
In spite of its top position, the pandemic has badly hit Portland’s restaurant scene, and vegan restaurants were not left unscathed. Google data shows that eating out at vegan restaurants is still well down, with search levels for restaurants dropping by a quarter year-on-year, even well into the last months of 2020.
However, the drop in restaurant visits was offset by a surge in searches for vegan recipes and vegan foods such as cheese and ice cream.
2. Edinburgh (Popularity Score: 94)
The capital city of Scotland, renowned for its annual arts festival and historic past, Edinburgh now claims the title of Europe’s vegan capital. Robert Burns might not be so impressed, as he so loved a haggis he a wrote it a poem!
The vegan community in Edinburgh is growing year after year, evidenced by the growing number of searches for vegan foods and restaurants (vegan lasagna, vegan pancakes and vegan banana bread are some of the most popular searches locally).
3. Hamburg (Popularity Score: 90)
Yes, the city gave the world the hamburger. Yes, the city is proud of its culinary gift. But yes, they move with the times and are enthusiastically embracing the move to plant-based eating.
Veganism is huge in Hamburg, so much so that a local vegan guide lists more than 250 vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes in Hamburg and its suburbs.
4. Berlin (Popularity Score: 88)
Germany’s cultural capital and city known for its awesome nightlife was one of the first to take up vegan choices, having once ranked world’s vegan capital.
5. Amsterdam (Popularity Score: 87)
This laid-back, cosmopolitan city has, surprisingly, been slow to take up interest in veganism. But this year Amsterdam takes joint 5th position and with it, the prize for most improved city ranking.
5. Leipzig (Popularity Score: 87)
The third German city in our poll, but according to PETA, veganism is so popular here that the city tops the vegan-friendly charts in the country.
7. Manchester (Popularity Score: 86)
Known as England’s second city (it isn’t, but it likes to think so), Manchester is a northern powerhouse of sport, music, and commerce. And now it’s powering its infectious energy with vegan fayre.
7. London (Popularity Score: 86)
For centuries the world leader in finance, banking, arts, fashion, music, politics, trade… it really has it all and now is leading the world’s global cities in veganism.
Of all the global cities, London ranks second highest in plant-based interest.
7. Vancouver (Popularity Score: 86)
Vancouver is a foodie paradise, boasting an incredibly diverse food scene. The sea, the mountains, forestry, and nature make Vancouver a haven for nature lovers and a center for outdoor sports. So it’s a short step to a healthy, plant-based vegan diet.
10. Seattle (Popularity Score: 81)
Sitting between Portland and Vancouver, why wouldn’t Seattle love vegan? So committed are Seattle folk to eating plants, they have their very own vegan grocery store.
Chef’s Pencil has analysed Google Trends data for the full year of 2020. Google Trends popularity scores are relative and not absolute. Please see below how Google defines regional popularity scores:
Values are calculated on a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 is the location with the most popularity as a fraction of total searches in that location, a value of 50 indicates a location which is half as popular. A value of 0 indicates a location where there was not enough data for this term.
Note: A higher value means a higher proportion of all queries, not a higher absolute query count. So a tiny country where 80% of the queries are for “bananas” will get twice the score of a big country where only 40% of the queries are for “bananas”.
Only cities with a population of over 100,000 were included in the study.
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