By Nina Hodgson
LONDON, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Teenage London restaurant manager Abdul Muhaimen settled his first-year university bill by cashing in on a rising trend: veganism.
Working with his father, the owner of City Spice restaurant, and Michelin star chef Rupert Rowley, they created 14 vegan dishes paired with vegan wines. The result was a 170 percent increase in sales at their establishment on Brick Lane, a bustling east London street known for its curry houses.
"I realised, from an innovation sense, that there was no vegan Indian cuisine so I thought this is a feasible concept," said 19-year-old Muhaimen, a student at Birmingham University.
From restaurants in Cape Town and Los Angeles to London-based hair salons using vegan products and leather-free clothing shops, veganism is gaining steam.
Veganism and broader food issues are on the agenda at this week's World Economic Forum in Davos, an annual event that draws more than 1,000 political and business leaders to the Swiss mountain resort, with several panels dedicated to related topics.
Founded five years ago, British-based charity Veganuary has rallied more than 225,000 people worldwide to follow a plant-based diet and avoid dairy, eggs and honey - usually eaten by vegetarians - during the month of January.
"It's no longer a counter-culture movement. It's a movement that has entered the mainstream," Richard Hardy, head of Campaigns at British-based Veganuary, said.
The demand for plant-based foods is increasing with the global meat substitute market expected to reach $7.5 billion by 2025, a jump of 83 percent, from $4.1 billion in 2017, according to a study by Allied Market Research.
A report by U.S.-based Grand View Research said the global vegan cosmetics market is estimated at $12.9 billion.
According to the Veganuary website, the main reason people sign up to go vegan is animal welfare, followed by health benefits and environmental impact. For restaurants, it is a movement to capitalise on, according to Hardy.
"People are being driven onto the high street and into the supermarkets because of the exciting new (vegan) foods that are there," he said.
"If you're not keeping up, you're going to miss the boat."
At Davos, the "A New Dialogue for Food" panel will focus on innovating for nutritious, sustainable food and alternative proteins while the "Alternative Diet, Healthier Planet" session will look at meat consumption and its role in reducing carbon emissions.
The challenges surrounding the surging pressure on crop production to feed a global population expected to surpass 9 billion by 2050 will be also be addressed.
(Reporting by Nina Hodgson, Writing by Gayle Issa; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Hugh Lawson)
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