Lauren Depass faces the dilemma of non-vegan companies making goods for the vegan market.
Over the last two years, it’s safe to say veganism is on the rise. The demand for vegan products has gone through the roof, with statistics from The Vegan Society showing that there were more vegan products launched in the UK than any other nation in 2018.
Many reporters have predicted that 2019 is the year that veganism will go mainstream with a record breaking 250,000 people signing up to take part in Veganuary earlier this year. Even those that have not yet fully embraced the vegan lifestyle have become more conscious and open to trying new products, with an incredible 92% of plant-based meals consumed in the UK eaten by non-vegans last year, according to The Vegan Society.
The misconception of vegans eating nothing but salad leaves and fruit is well and truly becoming debunked. The vegan sections in supermarket freezers and fridges are getting bigger by the day and constantly being stocked with new and exciting products to try. With the ever-growing popularity of being a vegan, more non-vegan companies have decided to jump on the meat-free, dairy-free wagon as well – but the question is, will it be advantageous or will this only hinder what we are trying to achieve in the long term?
Let’s face it, a big part of any cause is to get the word out there and create change. With non-vegan companies such as Hellman’s, Papa John’s and Domino’s introducing and unveiling new vegan products across their social media networks towards the end of last year, more and more people began talking about it.
According to Google Trends, the search for vegan has never been higher than it was at the end of 2018. Some companies have strategically placed their products in the meat and dairy aisles to not only target vegans, but also flexitarians and vegetarians too.
The journey to becoming vegan has never been easier
Rewind to a few years ago, all your friends are going out for lunch or dinner and you are absolutely dreading it, because you know bringing a homecooked meal in a bag and depositing it onto a restaurant plate is not acceptable. There isn’t much choice, unless you’d like to have chips for your starter and main, and lemon sorbet for dessert; so in the end you turn down the invitation for dinner and agree to meet them after for drinks.
Fast forward to now. Yes, you may still have to check the menu before you go anywhere new, but nine times out of ten you know there will be at least one vegan-friendly dish on the menu.
It’s not too late for them to change
It’s never too late for someone to change, right? Most of us, were not born vegan. Before changing our lifestyle, we were unaware of the impact we were having on the environment, our bodies and on animals.
Earlier this year, Flora, a dairy butter and margarine company announced that they will now only sell plant-based products. This change was massive and shocked many. A company that was based on dairy decided to completely change what it stood for, and it couldn’t have been more well received. Is there hope for more companies to follow suit and change?
Are they really vegan?
It’s easy for people to see vegan plastered across a product and instantly believe it and, in most cases, this isn’t a problem. However, there are a lot of companies out there that sell ‘vegan’ products that aren’t crueltyfree. Technically, when it comes to beauty and cleaning products, a vegan product means that it doesn’t contain any animal-derived products, but do not be fooled; this doesn’t always mean that the product itself wasn’t tested on animals. With vegan products being more in demand than ever, a lot of companies want a piece of the action and don’t think twice when it comes to mislabelling products.
Contributing to firms that promote animal cruelty
There’s a huge ongoing debate across vegan networks – should we be contributing to companies that promote animal cruelty? For every vegan that posts a vegetable deluxe meal from McDonald’s, there are two telling them how wrong it is to eat from there. If you take a step back and look at the overall picture, by eating there you are putting money directly into their pocket and contributing to the success of their business, even though you don’t agree with most of the products they sell.
Invites more negative comments and press
Shall we just jump right into it… Vegan Sausage Roll-gate. Never has something escalated across social media so quickly. Overall, it has had an amazing response, with even non-vegans stating that they prefer the vegan version, but with every hot topic comes negativity.
When a huge company that has sold nothing but meat and dairy products unveils a vegan product, hundreds of people unaccustomed to change or who think being vegan is ‘unnatural’, decide it’s their duty to express an opinion. This, combined with keyboard warriors, means vegans feel they have to defend themselves more and more.
Taking away from smaller companies with the right values
There are so many small companies that solely sell vegan products, but, due to price or convenience, we bypass them for a well-known brand without the same values. Although veganism is on the rise, only 3% of the UK define themselves as vegan, according to Kantar UK; meaning vegan companies are not as high in demand as we may think. Non vegans are most likely to try vegan items in the supermarket or give them a go in a restaurant chain, rather than searching for small food chains that aren’t necessarily as accessible. These companies depend on us to support and promote them.
An aspiring novelist, writer and blogger at A Yorkshire Soul. Lauren’s favourite topics are going vegan, relationships, beauty and mental health. Away from the keyboard Lauren reads, knits and watches Gilmore Girl reruns.