Israel has the largest percentage of vegans per capita in the world with an estimated five percent of the population (about 400,000).
There is a boom in plant-based and vegan tourism initiatives. Vegan ice cream without cream (or eggs) joins the array of plant-based alternatives to meat, cheese, eggs, yogurt, milk chocolate and mayo on Israeli grocery shelves. Ben & Jerry’s new vegan Chunky Monkey and Fudge Brownie flavors, fresh from the company’s Be’er Tuvia factory, were debuted to the delight of 1,500 participants in Israel’s fourth annual Vegan Congress in Tel Aviv, February 2017.
An increasing number of product packages carry the stamp of Vegan-Friendly, the Israeli non-profit organisation who started the ball rolling in 2012 and sponsors the annual vegan congress. The VeganFriendly stamp of approval appears on more and more Israeli products. VeganFriendly founder Omri Paz says the organization has worked hard to raise awareness of animal cruelty in the meat, dairy and egg industries, resulting in a rise in the number of Israeli vegans from half a percent to 4% of the population. Popular restaurant chains in Israel, from Domino’s Pizza to Café Landwer, began adding vegan items to the menu.
From 2014-2016 the trend grew to include more vegan products in supermarkets and now the next new trends are in big mainstream companies offering vegan products, and in food-tech and tourism.
The Tourism Ministry is promoting Israel as a ‘vegan nation’ all major Israeli hotel chains will be vegan-friendly, not just in their restaurants but also in available-by-request guest room amenities: no feather pillows, no leather, no animal-tested toiletries.
Tour operators are getting on the band wagon with options such as vegan culinary tours of Tel Aviv, and a vegan group tour of Israel.
Food-technology in Israel includes the development of cruelty-free products like SuperMeat cultured chicken; Yofix probiotic non-dairy ‘yogurt’ based on cereal, nuts and seeds; and INDI dairy- and soy-free infant formula and pediatric nutrition drink.
There are two parallel trends. One is that prominent vegan activists realize the importance of Israel’s leadership role in this revolution. The other is that animal welfare is the top priority of Israeli vegans.
Watch this space for updates.