A record 400,000 people worldwide signed up to the Veganuary movement this year, the campaign has revealed.

Since 2014, the UK-based group has asked people to pledge to eat a vegan diet for the month of January. It said the latest figure compares with 250,000 participants in 2019 and 170,000 in 2018.

Signatories now come from every country in the world except North Korea, Vatican City and Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), the group said.

In addition, many more people are thought to have taken part in the event without signing the official pledge, and many are expected to continue with plant-based diets beyond January.

Manufacturers, supermarkets, restaurants and pub chains are now tapping into not only the burgeoning vegan market but also “flexitarians”, who enjoy meat but want to reduce their meat consumption.

Toni Vernelli, a Veganuary spokesperson, said: “With the link between animal farming and the climate crisis making headlines nearly every day, we expected Veganuary 2020 to be the biggest yet, but it exceeded all our expectations. We applaud everyone who took part and encourage them to continue eating vegan food as often as possible.

In the UK alone hundreds of new plant-based products and menu items were launched this January – including the first Veganuary offerings from the fast-food giants KFC, McDonald’s and Burger King. Sales in many cases exceeded expectations.

KFC said it sold one million vegan burgers in the first month they were on sale, while the food delivery service Deliveroo said orders of vegan dishes had increased by 78% compared with last year.

Pret a Manger launched its first vegan croissant in stores in early January and is now selling twice as many a day as the non-vegan jam croissant.

At Tesco, sales of Hellmann’s vegan mayonnaise soared nearly 400% during January, while M&S said its vegan chicken kievs sold at a rate of four every minute since going on sale in early January.

Also this year, Veganuary launched its first TV advert which aired on major networks in five countries, including Sky News in the UK.

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