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Vegan trend: from recipes to photos, the content that drives social media

Veganism is the fastest growing lifestyle trend, with over 360% growth over the past decade. I (Olivia) have decided to try Veganuary and experience this growing trend. You can read more about how we identified the trend, and our personal challenge here.

Being part of a social media consultancy I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to document my vegan living online and try to earn myself a few extra followers… In fact the main predictor in someone continuing to be vegan is the maintenance of a strong social network.  In line with this I’ve been looking into the most successful vegan content, as a key factor in this social network, and therefore in the success of vegans, new and old alike.

Rule number one, although obvious, #vegan always goes down well. Always. There is a whopping 35.5 million uses of this hashtag on Instagram alone. Other popular vegan hashtags include 'plantbased' (7 million), and 'veganfood' (4.5 million).  Vegan posting does revolve heavily around food – and it’s not just vegetables. Vegan food posting seems to be in line with other popular food trends. The vegan content is filled with avocado galore – even spreading to a very popular vegan avocado cake icing. Other trends include the heavily documented brunch and of course matcha – an instagram favorite.  The top vegan accounts are laden with vegan surprises such as pancakes, desserts and even pizza. Typically the best performing posts focus on vegan ‘food porn’ rather than advertising healthy aspects of being vegan.

One notable difference between vegan and non-vegan accounts is the use of restaurants. Top performing vegan posts generally include home made meals with recipes attached, whereas other top instagrammers often include hipster food restaurants. Vegan instagram accounts, although in-line with popular food trends (such as brunch), don’t follow the rise in fitness related posting or indeed travel, which are found on non vegan accounts. I managed to locate only one account that focused on veganism and included significant travel content.

Vegan Youtube channels seem to behave slightly differently to Instagram. Vegan Youtubers often focus on the benefits: healthy lifestyle and reduction in animal cruelty. This is in-line with research that suggests the main predictor for starting a vegan diet are these factors. Although the Youtube vegan channels still show a considerable amount of food content, they do also include areas such as fitness and travel which are rarely seen on vegan instagram accounts.

There are two broad categories for why people become Vegan. The first is due to the health benefits. This generally produces logical reasoning and arguments to why veganism is a good lifestyle decision. The second is animal cruelty. This produces emotive arguments for the benefits of a vegan life.  These two broad viewpoints and the style of argument associated with them, reflects the type of youtube content produced by creators.

Veganism has boomed in the last year and that is, of course, reflected in social media posting. Other influencers have also jumped on this bandwagon with the introduction of the flexitarian. These part time vegans or veggies have great success and throw the occasional vegan recipe into the mix.

To become instafamous veganism seems to be a good stance to have. But just remember it’s a hard life being vegan – all those avocados won’t eat themselves!


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