One of the easiest ways to have your voice heard and get your ideas and opinions out there is to have an online presence. You can potentially reach a worldwide audience and have a meaningful impact—all from the comfort of your bedroom. (Or sometimes, the comfort of your kitchen!) Thankfully, many inspiring people are doing just that and making the sometimes-mystifying world of veganism and plant-based eating more accessible than ever.
Since YouTube is one of the most prevalent online platforms, we wondered: What does the landscape of YouTube pertaining to veganism and plant-based diets look like? How do different types of content fare? To explore this, we collected data from 93 YouTubers who run channels focused on veganism. We decided to categorize the different content they create into 10 types: Vlogs, Lifestyle, Advocacy, Recipes, Fitness, Opinion, Education, News, Reviews, and, my personal favorite, Animal Videos! (Think baby goats frolicking on an animal sanctuary.)
In general, here’s what we found:
- Videos depicting these people’s everyday lives, especially what they eat, tend to be the most popular. We categorized these as Lifestyle and Vlog channels.
- Across all channels, each new video posted brings in an average of 23K new channel views. More content helps boost views!
- The most popular and productive YouTubers are significant outliers—when someone does well, they do really well!
So whether you are looking to start your own online advocacy adventure or simply looking for some useful resources, read on!
A quick reminder—be sure to play by the rules and respect intellectual property laws and YouTube’s terms of service. Learn more about YouTube’s guidelines here: YouTube.
In categorizing the channels, we of course had to use our judgment a bit. We looked at the videos and chose the one or two categories that seemed to pop up the most. A channel may have some other categories of videos, but we did not deem them to be the main categories of videos.
Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of content. We used the term “Vlog” to refer to videos that document YouTubers’ day-to-day activities in real time or videos in which YouTubers speak directly to the camera about their lives. “Lifestyle” videos are similar but a little more formal; in these, they tell their audiences about different aspects of their lives. Some examples are “What I ate today,” a “grocery haul,” and an “apartment tour.” “Advocacy” videos feature content that is clearly persuasive in nature, and “Opinion” videos can be similar to the more confessional “Vlog” videos, except that YouTubers speak on specific issues and offer their opinions. As you may have guessed, “News” videos offer vegan- or animal-advocacy-related news coverage, and “Reviews” feature YouTubers talking about their experiences with different products. That about covers it, as “Recipes,” “Fitness,” “Education,” and “Animal Videos” are also pretty self-explanatory!
To get the midpoints and averages of some of the other metrics we looked at, we had to remove some standouts (or statistical outliers, if you want to get technical!). Kalel would have skewed the data with her 2 million subscribers; Freelee the Banana Girl with her whopping 270 million channel views; and Durian Rider, PETA, and The Dodo with their outrageous number of videos (in the thousands each!).
Note: All data is accurate as of November 2017.
Now, on to our findings: First of all, vegan channels have been around for about as long as YouTube itself has; the oldest ones in our sample clock in at about 11 years old (Try Veg, Farm Sanctuary, and Mercy For Animals are some of the oldest). The average age of the channels is 4.4 years. After removing the outliers, the median number of video views is 26K and the mean 51K. The highest number of views is 351K and belongs to Life al Dente, which means this YouTuber is consistently drawing viewers with her delicious recipe videos. As for total number of channel views, the median is 3.5M and the mean 11M, while the maximum is Vegan Gains’ 121M. The median number of subscribers is 45K and mean 112K, while Fully Raw Kristina inspires her 913K subscribers with her healthy lifestyle.
Most Popular Types of Content
With all this in mind, you may be wondering which categories of content tend to gain the most traffic. Based on the data, those who post videos in the Lifestyle category as well as vlogs may fare the best in terms of subscribers. Of the 10 most-subscribed-to channels (see below), five have Lifestyle content and four contain vlogs, while the next highest category, Recipes, is featured on only two of these channels. (Remember: Channels are not limited to one type of content.)
Since it is possible that different types of content attract viewers with varying levels of devotedness and consistency, we performed the same analysis with the most-viewed channels. In this case, the spread was more even with no obvious standouts, although Lifestyle came out on top again with four channels that feature this type of content. Vlogs and Advocacy each claimed three channels, while Animal Videos, Fitness, and Education are each included on two channels. The most-viewed channels are as follows:
Popular Channels by Type of Content
Because certain content seems to gain the most traction and we don’t want any helpful channels flying under the radar, we put together this handy little chart for you. It lays out the top three most-subscribed-to channels for each of the content categories, so if you’re looking for a great channel that features, for example, education on veganism, look no further!
There weren’t three channels that consistently featured News and Reviews. But those that include Lifestyle or Recipes, such as Kalel or Cheap Lazy Vegan, sometimes do reviews. Although they did not make it to the table, here are some honorable mentions: Earthling Ed is a fierce advocate for animals—he often takes to the streets to have reasoned, level-headed debates with pedestrians; Farm Sanctuary is another great source for heartwarming videos of rescued animals; and Caitlin Shoemaker has some of the most creative recipes we’ve seen, especially if you’re on a budget!
Effects of Content Type on Popularity
All this information invites the question: How does including certain types of content draw in audiences? While it is important to note that we did not take a random sample and therefore cannot make any meaningful predictions as to what might happen on your channel, we can tell you what we found within our sample. For this part of the analysis, we again removed the outliers. Based on the data collected, the number of channel views increased by 23K on average with every additional video posted when controlling for the age of the channel and the number of subscribers. We found that the number of subscribers (when controlling for the number of videos and age of the channel) increased with the inclusion of Recipes, Vlog, Lifestyle, and Fitness by 51K, 40K, 5K, and 1.3K on average, respectively, while the number of subscribers decreased with the inclusion of Advocacy, Animal Videos, Opinion, Education, News, and Reviews by anywhere from 25K (Education) to 154K (Advocacy) on average.
So there you have it! We hope this has given you an idea of what the world of Vegan YouTube has to offer and of how to boost your own channel. Moral of the story: If you want to spread the vegan message, it might be a good idea to showcase how veganism affects your day-to-day life by sharing your grocery hauls, everyday diet, tips for personal care, apartment tours, and so on.
About the Author
Emily Wilson is a lifelong animal lover dedicating her career to improving the lives of animals. She recently obtained her master’s degree in economics from the University of Toronto and holds a bachelor’s (honors) with a double major in mathematics and criminal justice and public policy. She plans to attend law school and hopes ultimately to analyze animal policy and legislation through an economic lens. Emily currently performs data analytics for Mercy For Animals through the Analytics For Animals volunteer program. You can reach her by email at [email protected]