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'The Great British Bake Off' Will Have Its First-Ever Vegan Week

Why Global Citizens Should Care
There’s a growing movement around the world to cut out dairy products, with increasingly compelling evidence that it’s a great way to help the environment. It also supports several of the UN’s Global Goals to end extreme poverty, including achieving responsible consumption and production, improving life on land, and creating cities and communities that are sustainable. You can join us by taking action on all of these issues here

The Great British Bake Off is nearly back on our screens, for its second year since the big move to Channel 4.

After 2017’s big shake-up, which also introduced new judge Prue Leith (who replaced Mary Berry) as well as new hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding, there so far seem to be relatively few changes this year. 

But there is something very exciting in the pipelines: this year, Bake Offwill be going vegan

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OK, it’s only for one week, but we’re still pretty pumped to see what the 12 amateur bakers will do when deprived of their butter, milk, and eggs. 

“We wanted something different and something to represent what was happening in this country,” said Leith’s fellow judge, Paul Hollywood. “Veganism is something that seems to be growing. That’s why it is in.” 

Each week of the series, the bakers have to rise to a different challenge. Previously, Bake Off has seen caramel week, Victorian week, and botanicals week, as well as the staples, like bread week. 

And for Hollywood and Leith, filming for vegan week was a bit of an eye-opener. 

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“If you are a vegan, or you’re thinking about it and are just worried about how it is going to change your life, watch it and see,” added Hollywood. “It fascinated me, totally … shocked me as well.” 

But don’t expect any compromises in quality just because there’s no dairy allowed. 

“You can’t judge it and say it’s OK for vegan, it’s got to taste good, period,” said Hollywood, notorious for not letting any mistakes slide. “That’s how we judged it and we were surprised.” 

It’s definitely a reflection of a trend that’s sweeping the nation. 

Britons are increasingly making the to move to veganism, vegetarianism, or “flexitarianism” as the global conversation around the food system, and the environmental impact of animal products, escalates. 

According to research released in February by market monitor Kantar Worldpanel, some 29% of evening meals eaten in the UK now contain zero meat or fish. 

Meanwhile, over the past decade, the number of vegans in Britain has risen by 360% — and more than half of UK adults are adopting “vegan-buying behaviour,” according to the Vegan Society. A third of Brits are also describing their eating habits as “flexitarian” — meaning they are reducing their consumption of animal products, while not ascribing to a strict vegan or vegetarian diet. 

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And it’s getting increasingly easy to cut out animal products, with mainstream supermarkets now catering to the growing trend. 

Sainsbury’s sales of vegan cheeses have reportedly exceeded expectations by 300%; Tesco launched the largest own-brand supermarket range of 100% plant-based meals, Wicked Kitchen, in January; and UberEats reported a 400% rise in vegan searches. 

It’s all very good news for the planet. 

A study published in the journal Science in June claimed that going vegan is absolutely the best way to help the planet holistically. 

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The environmental impact of eating meat and dairy products, it said, is unrivalled among all human activities. And, if people stopped eating animal products, farmland would be reduced by 75%, allowing ecosystems around the world to recover from deforestation and other damage, while still generating enough food to feed all of humanity. 

“Agriculture is a sector that spans all the multitude of environmental problems,” research leader Joseph Poore, from the University of Oxford, told the Guardian at the time. “Really it is the animal products that are responsible for so much of this.”

“Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy,” he added.