Veganism goes mainstream, as interest increases by over 200% in three years, Hitwise reports


Fad diets are a thing of the past as Brits instead turn to the lifestyle trend of ‘holistic wellbeing’, according to new data released today from Hitwise – which monitors the internet habits of three million Brits, and takes into account searches on all UK search engines.

‘Holistic wellbeing’ is a conscious effort to eat healthily, exercise regularly and take an ethical and sustainable approach to living – and it is going mainstream.

The most remarkable finding from the data has been the increase in the key ‘clean lifestyle’ choice of veganism. In the past three years alone, searches for ‘veganism’, which involves living a life free of animal products of any kind, has increased by a huge 221%. During the same time, searches for gluten-free food options have increased by 69%.

The desire to achieve the body beautiful can also be witnessed in a 61% increase in searches for ‘diets’ in one yearalone. But the research found that the popularity of the many ‘fad diets’, which have come to the fore in recent years, is waning. The Paleo diet – adopted by Hollywood A-listers such as Megan Fox, Jessica Biel, and Matthew McConoughey – has seen its popularity fall by nearly a quarter (22%) in the past year alone.

The trend for healthy lifestyles extends beyond food and diet. Wearable technology has been one of the growth areas of the past 12 months, spurred on by the likes of the Fitbit, and this extends into the lifestyle movement driven by UK consumers. Hitwise data shows that in the past year, searches for fitness trackers have increased by nearly three-quarters (72%).

Having the gear to get you feeling healthier has extended beyond the technology into the fashion. Searches for activewear over the past year have increased by 74%.

Whilst we may all expect searches for gyms and fitness activities to increase in January, the data from Hitwise shows a longer term uptake of interest amongst Brits. Searches for gyms and exercise have increased by 30% over the past three years. In addition, more challenging ‘extreme’ sports events are gaining mainstream popularity. For example, the Tough Mudder event, which sees contestants take on an obstacle course of over 10 miles and face fire, electric shocks and freezing water, has seen interest increase by 68%. Meanwhile elite fitness programme Crossfit has seen an increase of 65%, whilst the Ironman event has seen its popularity increase by 40%.

Less gruelling health pursuits have also increased in popularity. ‘Yoga’ for example has risen in popularity by 24 per cent over the past two years – with a 97 per cent increase in searches from men. Yoga now attracts an almost even split between men (49%) and women (51%) with an increasingly diverse age group – increasing amongst 18-24 year olds (21%), and over 55s (22%).

Madeleine Shaw, nutritional health coach and bestselling cookery writer comments on the findings: “The research from Hitwise is really exciting and shows that healthy living has become a movement. People want to live in a healthier balanced way that nourishes their mind, body and soul. There have been so many huge food and exercise trends that have taken the UK by storm and I can’t wait to see what the future has to hold.”

Nigel Wilson, managing director at Hitwise says, “A healthy lifestyle is no longer the fad of the select few, but rather the conscious effort by many to follow a more well-rounded plan. Through analysing the Hitwise data from the past three years, we have seen a steady increase in Brits shifting their choices towards food, fitness and fashion, to adopt a healthier, more mindful way of living their lives. Analysing data to understand emerging consumer behaviour online is just one way we help brands to paint a clearer picture of their audiences –  now is the time for them to get involved and reach this rich audience.”