Vegan January or #veganuary is no new thing. Launched in the UK in 2014, its aim has been to encourage people to ditch meat and try going vegan for a month.

It’s a clever concept. As people often vow to spend the first month of the year booze-free, cutting down on treats and generally acting healthier after the festive season, it’s a month when many are happy to get on board with big life improvements.

Yet this year it feels as though a shift has taken place. It could be thanks to the recent media frenzy surrounding Gregg’s rollout of the vegan sausage roll, or perhaps it’s simply that the vegan movement has been bubbling away for years and has finally been accepted mainstream. Either way, plant-based eating seems to be having a moment.

It can only be welcome news. Whether you fall into the camp that’s likely to embrace veganism or not, as more people opt for plant-based diets, the options available and benefits are set to grow.

The idea of everyone becoming vegan might sound unrealistic or extreme, yet over the last 10 years, the number of people in the UK opting for a plant-based diet has risen by 340 per cent. According to Mintel, today there are over 0.5 million British vegans, with around 20 per cent of 16-24-year olds following a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Food is responsible for over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions: meat and dairy making up the lions share of that carbon footprint. And with evidence to back up the idea that becoming vegan would contribute to lower food related emissions, it’s certainly worth the effort.

Food providers appear to be noticing the new demand among consumers. This month it was announced that Scottish-based meat-free start up, Daring Foods, which has created a range of plant-based beef, chicken and other meat alternatives, has secured its first distribution deal with Lomond Fine Foods. The deal will see them reach 300 locations in the first quarter of 2019.

This growing accessibility to vegan foods may be the deciding factor for more people to make the move to veganism.

As a meat-eater myself (albeit an increasingly guilty feeling one), I know that for me, convenience usually prevails. If cooking a big batch of chilli is easier than researching a vegan meal for a weekday supper, I’ll choose the former. Yet I’m impressed with the variety of options now available in shops and restaurants.

After trying a vegan burger last week - complete with vegan cheese, burger sauce, brioche bun and lettuce, I’ll admit in a blindfolded taste test I’d have hardly known the difference to the real deal. Delicious and satisfying, if vegan meals can taste this good and not prove an excessive effort to make, I’m on board.

It feels like a new age of food consumption is on the rise. Whether you can ditch the meat and dairy for good or even for certain meals throughout the week, plant-based eating certainly offers some food for thought.