Join the veggie jobs boom 

Banish the bacon and serve time on the sausages… the UK is celebrating National Vegetarian Week. 

Kicking off on Monday 13th of May and running until May 19th, the annual event promises to be a festival marking all that’s good about choosing a meat-free diet. 

Previous years have seen veggie celebrations held across the country, from celebrity and up-and-coming chefs serving signature dishes at pop-up restaurants and in local schools to fundraising lunches where favourite recipes have been shared.  

With resource packs and newsletters filled with event tips and recipe ideas available, the Week is an ideal opportunity to get the veggie message to people across all ages and in all communities. 

With more Brits looking to make important lifestyle changes, it can show just how easy vegetarian food is to make and enjoy. And, thanks to events like National Vegetarian Week, many more people in the UK are checking out the vibrant vegetarian – and vegan – scene. 

The movement is being driven by young people seeking to make more ethical and compassionate lifestyle choices, with 42 per cent of all vegans in the UK aged under 34 compared to 14 per cent who are older than 65. 

The highest concentrations of people who reject animal-based foods are found in towns and cities with more than a fifth of all UK vegans are based in London. 

And there are many more converts seeking advice – according to a recent study commissioned by Waitrose, one in eight people in the UK are now vegetarian or vegan. A further 21% claim to be flexitarian, where a largely vegetable-based diet is supplemented occasionally with a meat dish. 

It’s not only animals who are benefitting from this. The change in humans’ eating habits and their different lifestyle choices are also creating new job opportunities. 

This is most evident in the hospitality sector. A survey by of more than 2000 people about their dining out habits, showed ‘selective eaters’ represent a potential £9 billion boost for restaurants. 

Vegetarian and vegan eateries are fast becoming go-to places, while events such as VegfestUK, which started in Bristol in 2003, attract a host of locals and tourists alike. 

Today there are dozens of VegfestUK festivals held across the country. 

It’s not only the chefs, cooks, kitchen assistants and waiting staff who work in high-end restaurants reaping the rewards of vegetarian popularity. High-street fast food chains are also ringing the changes. The latest is Taco Bell, who have launched their first-ever dedicated vegetarian in-restaurant menu. Each menu addition has been created to make the eatery more accessible to vegetarians, flexitarians and health-conscious diners.  

The fast-paced growth of vegetarianism has also produced a sudden influx of choices for shoppers who want products that are cool but animal cruelty-free. Shoppers are also much more eco-aware, especially as analysis of the damage industrial-scale farming does has shown avoiding meat and dairy products could be the biggest difference an individual can make for the planet. 

This has meant retail analysts, buyers and store managers are all having to research the marketplace and source new and inspirational items to satisfy this new demand from conscientious consumers.  

Taking a hint from specialist stores, established supermarket chains, meanwhile, are introducing vegetarian options, meaning everyone from stockists to store managers to sales assistants have been busy brushing up on their knowledge of meat-free products.  

Of course, all these tasty treats must first be created. 

Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, with around 400,000 people employed in the industry. And many manufacturers are already leading the way when it comes to sustainability – committing themselves to recycling, anti-littering and reducing the use of unnecessary plastic. 

With the rise of vegetarianism, there is now a drive to create a wider range of attractive meat-free alternatives that will appeal to a nation of accustomed to eating meat most days. This means researchers and production workers are working in an environment that is continually growing and innovating. 

It’s here, too, that the UK’s food scientists are making major breakthroughs. Also known as food technologists, they work in research and development – conjuring up new products, testing them for textures and tastes, flavours and fragrances, and then putting them through strict quality controls.  

There are also food technology specialities making huge strides in areas such as recyclable food packaging. 

Next, it’s the job of marketing professionals to create branding and advertising campaigns that will ensure veggie products become well known and are soon flying off the shelves. 

When the food is finally ready to serve, nutrionists are there to ensure a vegetarian or vegan diet is balanced and able to offer all the necessary ingredients to ensure consumers’ long-term health and wellbeing. 

If this has whetted your appetite for a new job, there is a healthy range of vacancies in hospitality, catering, food production and retail. 

So why not take a closer look at the roles online to see if vegetarianism or veganism could change your way of life… and give you an exciting new career?