Welcome

to the Vegetarian Society 2020/2021 Annual Review

We know the last year has been a tough one for many of you, but we’ve got through it. And looking back there’s lots for us to celebrate.

At the Vegetarian Society, our focus has been on looking after you, and vegetarians and vegans everywhere. We have tried our best to make sure you felt safe by giving you information about eating well, looking after your immune system, finding your veggie favourites when food was hard to get hold of and by giving you accurate information about whether the Covid-19 vaccines were vegetarian.

Because there was so much going on, and as none of us could go out, we shifted the focus of our National Vegetarian Week to “NVW at home”. And because you couldn’t visit our kitchens we moved our cookery courses online and came to yours. To help everyone cope with the uncertainty of the 2020 festive season, we invited you to join our Christmas Club, so we could all start cooking Christmas together. We gave you handmade, homemade recipes to make-ahead as individual portions so it didn’t matter how many people ended up round your table on Christmas Day!

We found a way for you to help others without compromising your veggie principles through our food box project. Your donations came flooding in which meant we could send tens of thousands of veggie meals to people relying on food banks all over the UK. We couldn’t have done any of this work without your support, so a huge thank you. This year, more than any other has shown how important our veggie community is. So thank you for being part of it.

Very best wishes,

Lynne Elliot

CEO

Covid

The difference we make

Support and community during Covid-19

We felt the most important thing we could do for you during Covid-19 was to keep a sense of community so we found even more ways to support you with news, information and activities.

We hope you valued our contact through emails, social media and our website. We let you know about vaccines and whether they were vegetarian, sent hints and tips from our cookery school and shared immune-boosting recipes as well as news about growing and storing your own veg during the lockdown.

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Food-box

The difference we make

Your donations put veggie meals on tables

As more people struggled to afford food during Covid-19, we launched an Emergency Food Box Appeal so that we could send tens of thousands of veggie meals to people all over the UK.  We used your generous donations to buy ingredients and sent the boxes to areas where the need was greatest – getting meals onto people’s tables.  Businesses also gave money and we received two large grants.

Each box was packed with all the food required for two vegetarian dishes – a bean chilli and a green lentil and tomato ragu – with four servings of each. The recipes were created by our Vegetarian Society Cookery School experts and were designed to be nourishing, filling, cost effective and vegan. Not only did our boxes give people hearty meals, they also provided families with cheaper, nutritious recipes they could make again and again.

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We worked with the Trussell Trust food bank network to send over 40,000 meals to people all over the country. This work is ongoing and we will continue offering boxes to food banks while there is still a demand from people who can’t afford to buy their own food.

A trustee of Chance Changing Lives food bank told us how people felt about getting the boxes:

"People have said it’s like receiving a gift because everything is included and that they have enjoyed following the recipe cards step by step and were really impressed with the taste and flavour. I hope people will think about the fact that using lentils is much cheaper than meat and that this might encourage people to move to a more sustainable lifestyle."

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The difference we make

#NationalVegetarianWeek at home

National Vegetarian Week 2020 was in May, during the first lockdown, so we changed our plans at the last minute to make it all about cooking at home. We shared seven mouth-watering recipes during the week and were delighted by how many people took the opportunity to join in.

The hashtag #NationalVegetarianWeek trended on social media, as Stephen Fry tweeted to over 12 million followers about the three delicious dishes he cooked up. TV presenter and wildlife expert, Chris Packham, filmed himself tucking into a tasty Oumph! Burger.  Instagram influencers Dan Mosaku, Professor Tim Wilson and Little London Vegan also boosted awareness of the week by making videos and posting our recipes on social media.

Celebrity support also came from Joanna Lumley, ‘Dirty Vegan’ chef Matt Pritchard, The Hairy Bikers and Radio 2 Breakfast Show presenter, Zoe Ball, who invited vegan chefs BOSH! to cook on her breakfast show to celebrate the start of the week.

The 2020 week-long event was a huge success and we would like to thank everyone for their support including our wonderful sponsors – Cauldron, BOSH!, Oumph! and Linda McCartney Foods.

"I think it’s fair to say that there’s never been a better time to try cutting our meat and living a plant-based life. I’ve found it good for health and energy, and if we all joined in…well, wouldn’t the planet be pleased!"

Stephen Fry

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Maz

The difference we make

Vegetarian Society Cookery School comes to your kitchen

We’re the home of veggie cooking, with years of experience in vegetarian and vegan food and our cookery school is usually open to individual and group sessions as well as professional classes. This year we had to close our kitchens because of Covid-19 so we moved online to bring our experts directly to your homes.

Our Head Tutor Sam, and her team of experts, made short videos giving tips on how to use different ingredients to zest up your lockdown meals and we also created ten digital cookery classes which you can buy and download from our website.

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Ginger-pudding

The difference we make

Our Christmas Club

With so much uncertainty about how we were all going to celebrate the 2020 festive season, we invited people to join our Christmas Club. The club offered everything you might need to get ready for a home crafted, traditional, flexible, delicious festive feast packed with flavour and made with love.

As well as classics like Christmas cake, and gingerbread biscuits, our Christmas Club recipe booklet shared instructions for veggie and vegan main courses like Chestnut, Parsnip and Squash Wellingtons and trickier items like vegan gravy and custard. All the Christmas Club recipes were planned to be frozen ahead in individual portions so it didn’t matter if you ended up with one, two or a whole party of people round at yours on the big day.

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The difference we make

We check so you don't have to

Wherever you see Vegetarian Society Approved trademarks on a product you can be sure that it is 100% vegetarian or vegan. We check ingredients and production and have accredited over 15,000 products currently on sale in supermarkets.

In 2020, we were sent a question about pre-gelatinised starch. Gelatine usually refers to a meat-based product so it was understandable that some of our members might be concerned. We found that ‘gelatinised’ means a process rather than the product and pre-gelatinised starch is a plant-based ingredient made from potato, wheat, corn or tapioca so it’s totally suitable for vegetarian and vegan eating.

After this, we accredited a pre-gelatinised starch from Colorcon – with the Vegetarian Society Approved vegetarian trademark. Now all their customers can quickly and easily see that these products are vegetarian.

We are very grateful for your ongoing support which makes it possible for us to respond to questions like this and share what we find out with members and wider communities.

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Financials

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Trademark sales £525,500

Legacies £327,313

Membership subscriptions £202,471

Food box grants £109,994

Donations and gifts £99,997

Investment and other income £27,395

National Vegetarian Week sponsorship £8,500

Cookery School £7,008

Advertising income £4,589

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Education and campaigning £605,312

Trademark sales £202,189

Membership services £182,282

Fundraising costs £142,793

Cookery School £135,827

Expert information and support £123,159

Investment management fees £7,214

income-pie-chart

Trademark sales £525,500

Legacies £327,313

Membership subscriptions £202,471

Food box grants £109,994

Donations and gifts £99,997

Investment and other income £27,395

National Vegetarian Week sponsorship £8,500

Cookery School £7,008

Advertising income £4,589

expenditure-pie-chart

Education and campaigning £605,312

Trademark sales £202,189

Membership services £182,282

Fundraising costs £142,793

Cookery School £135,827

Expert information and support £123,159

Investment management fees £7,214

Looking forward

We’re in the third year of a five year plan, but like everyone else this year we’ve had to change tack because of Covid-19. So while some of our goals have been reached, others have been put on hold.

We’ve had to find different ways to reach out to you, our members, as well as our supporters and the wider public.  And we plan to keep some of these projects moving forward. In the next few years our big goal is make sure you have three veggie choices wherever you go by 2025. We are doing this through our UK Food Plan and by working with schools, businesses, hospitals, care homes and travel companies.

• More veggie food boxes

Your donations to our emergency fund for veggie food boxes meant thousands of veggie meals could be enjoyed by people who were struggling to buy food during Covid-19. Now we want to reach more people by working with housing associations, schools and other community groups as well as food banks.

• Eat to Beat Climate Change

We will be talking about the benefits of vegetarian eating for the future of the planet on our website, on social media and in the news, especially around the time of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) happening in Glasgow in November 2021.

• Christmas Club

This year’s Christmas Club helped us reach out to 2,500 new people through our newsletter. In 2021 we plan to run the Christmas Club again and hope to help even more people enjoy a happy veggie Christmas!

• Helping people go veggie

We’re making a new support programme for people thinking about going vegetarian and adding more recipes to our collection as well as creating a new section on our website dedicated to veggie cooking skills.

• Online Vegetarian Society Cookery School

Going online meant we could join up with more people, so, while we are very excited to be reopening our kitchens as soon as we can, we will also carry on providing digital classes.

• Raising funds

We’ll build on our success this year with grants from trusts and running our own appeals to make all this work happen.

We are also committed to:

Vegetarian Society Approved trademarks – so you can trust what you’re buying.

National Vegetarian Week 2021 – to encourage more people go veggie.

Free community classes for local groups at the Vegetarian Society Cookery 
   School – so more people cook and eat veggie and vegan food.

Giving expert advice and information about diet – showing that a vegetarian
   diet can be as cheap as a meat diet.

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Thank you!

We are extremely grateful to all members and donors who have rallied around and stuck with us this past year. Your membership fees and donations have made a big difference, helping us do so much urgent work to support our communities in a way which fits with our shared values.

A special thank you to our corporate partners who have given so kindly while being faced with their own business uncertainties and to the generous grants we received in support of our Emergency Food Box Appeal from:

• Barclays 100x100 UK COVID-19 Community

   Relief Fund £100,000

• National Lottery Community Fund £10,000

We simply wouldn't be here if it weren't for you all, so THANK YOU!

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