Veganism – An Instagram Analysis

Why the world is choosing Veganism

‘Veganism – An Instagram Analysis’ – Why is the world choosing Veganism?

Without doubt, veganism has boomed in popularity in recent years, but why is the world choosing to ditch animal products?  

The statistics say that if the world went vegan, we could save eight million human lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by two-thirds and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion (source). 

Personal reasons for choosing to eat vegan differ greatly from cold statistics. As humans, we are not driven by numbers, but by subconscious drivers unique to our own emotions, experiences, backgrounds and values. 

To find out more about what people are writing – and therefore feeling – about veganism, we analysed six months of vegan-related hashtags globally on Instagram and discovered the personal drivers behind this undeniable shift in the way the world eats. 

Veganism – An Instagram Analysis’


We used our proprietary Socialwatching™ software, an AI powered platform trained to recognise – and cluster – imagery across Instagram and other social media platforms. Combined with powerful human semiotic analysis, Socialwatching™ makes sense of social.  

The ‘Veganism – An Instagram Analysis’ project analysed every Instagram post, globally – from 1st April 2021 – 30th September 2021 – that used the following hashtags: 

  • #veganism 
  • #veganlife 
  • #veganfoodofinstagram 
  • #vegansofig 
  • #veganfoodshare 

Over 1 million images were analysed, with the resulting AI-generated data used to decipher sub codes and messages by our semioticians.   

The rise of the vegan 

In the US, as many as 6 per cent of U.S. consumers say they are vegan — a 6x (500 per cent) increase compared to just 1 per cent in 2014. In the UK meanwhile, a 2019 survey by Ipsos Mori, commissioned by The Vegan Society, found that the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019.  

It’s the same story in Australia – where there are an estimated 500,000 vegans. Canada has seen an estimated 113% spike in interest with over 850,000 people officially declaring themselves as a vegan.  

Looking more widely, the global movement ‘Veganuary’ which inspires people to eat vegan for the 31 days of January saw a 25% increase in sign-ups during 2020. And in 2021, 580,000 people signed up from over 209 countries. 

Driven by health and environmental reasons, it’s clear that veganism is more than just a trend – it’s a way of life for millions of people across the globe.  

Companies are listening too. In the UK, Tesco and Sainsbury’s both launched private label vegan ranges, and plant-based meat alternative Beyond Meat has signed deals with fast food giants KFC and McDonalds as its stocks go through the roof.  

The three reasons people eat vegan 

From the 1 million posts generated by Instagram users in just six months, sentiments soon became clear. There are three reasons why people choose to eat vegan: 

  1. Nature 
  1. Self 
  1. Community 

For some there is a crossover, and for others one remains the core driver. Advocacy around veganism tends to fall into these three areas, with image and text-based messaging revealing further sub codes within each. 

Through understanding these unique sentiments, brands can appeal to the emotions of their customer and ensure their positioning resonates with those who matter most.  

In this article, ‘Veganism – An Instagram Analysis’ we explore specifically the ‘Nature’ code, and decipher what this means for audiences and brands. If you’re interested in the ‘For Self’ and ‘For Community’ aspects, and discussing how this information can help you connect with your customers, please contact us on or Tel:   +44 (0) 117 2872 412. 

Choosing to go vegan for nature 

The nature code shows a clear correlation in sentiment between the choice to practice veganism, and an adoration for the natural world and every being in it. But among this, there are even deeper sub codes, including: 

  • Animal Humanity 
  • The Shocking Truth 

Let’s take a deeper look at both.  

Animal Humanity 
45k unique hashtags – 19k unique posts 

At the heart of Animal Humanity is a deep love for the humanity of natural beings – animals first but also plants. Those who post with this sentiment see the world for what it truly is – authentic and beautiful. 

They want to acknowledge, celebrate and protect the living beings within it, and animals are shown as docile and genuinely trusting.  

Here, we see clear storytelling cues; photos of wildlife in its natural habitat, images of large, outdoor landscapes and close-ups of livestock animals to show their humanity. Keywords in captions include compassion, ‘just like humans’, sense of connection, kindness, and healing. 

For those expressing the Animal Humanity code, the decision to eat vegan is simple; it’s a primary way to be kind to – and to respect – nature. 

If Animal Humanity is a message you use to connect with your audience you need to live up to the commitment. Greenwashing will quickly come to the forefront; vet your suppliers, your manufacturers, your processes and ensure if you’re citing Animal Humanity, it is true.  

Associated hashtags: 

Hashtag Number of posts % of the Animal Humanity Unique Posts 
#animals 2,951 15.8% 
#veganfortheanimals 2,710 14.5% 
#friendsnotfood 2,080 11.1% 
#animallovers 1,818 9.7% 
#animalliberation 1,258 6.7% 
#animalsanctuary 1,783 9.6% 
‘Veganism – An Instagram Analysis’

The Shocking Truth 
32k unique hashtags – 16k Unique posts 

This code hits hard. It’s the scary side of the story – how human food equates to animal mistreatment and pain.  

For those posting under this trend, there is simply no holds barred; we need to save animals from human cruelty. This is expressed through images that testify to the brutality inflicted on animals every single day. 

They are the antithesis to the Instagram aesthetic that so many are used to seeing. We see images of livestock being treated poorly, quotes and explanations to back up claims, and demonstration signs and calls for united action.  

Words are just as confronting; torture, murderer, killing, ethics, rescue, dignity, rights. For those using the Shocking Truth code, veganism is seen as the only valid solution to drive change and make this inhuman treatment stop. 

This code expresses total opposition to the way the world is going. It is an urge to radically change the status quo.  

Associated hashtags: 

Hashtag Number of posts % of the Animal Humanity Unique Posts 
#animalrescue 453 2.9% 
#veganforanimals 384 2.5% 
#animalrights 3,687 23.8% 
#animalliberation 1,933 12.5% 
#veganfortheanimals 3,244 21.0% 
#animalrescue 453 2.9% 
‘Veganism – An Instagram Analysis’

This is just a glimpse of the insights unveiled in six months of monitoring #Vegan data on Instagram. 

If you’re is interested in additional ‘Veganism – An Instagram Analysis’ data – or you would like to talk to us about how to use SocialWatching™ to help connect with your audience – we’d love to hear from you. 

Contact us: or Tel:   +44 (0) 117 2872 412.