Abigail Stevens, Trademark Relations Officer for The Vegan Society, explains how properly labelled products will help vegans make the correct choice…
If you’ve ever met somebody who has been vegan for many years, they may have mentioned how much easier it is to be vegan these days. There’s truth in this observation, as we’re seeing more and more products being launched that exclude animal ingredients and are not tested on animals.
Although it is improving, labelling is still somewhat behind the times. So how can you be sure that products are suitable for a vegan lifestyle? Fortunately, The Vegan Society has been working on a solution for over 26 years: the internationally used Vegan Trademark. Indicating suitability for vegans, it can be seen on labels around the world and boasts an ever-increasing number of registered products.
False claims on products
There’s no denying that when shopping in a supermarket, labels can be confusing. Many products are not labelled as vegan or non-vegan, and despite some being ‘accidentally vegan’, the companies don’t make any effort to let it be known. At the other end of the scale, we are faced with false claims about the vegan status of products. Currently there is no legislation to prevent companies writing ‘suitable for vegans’ on their packet without meeting set standards for the claim. This can cause issues for shoppers seeking vegan products, as occasionally companies do not understand the definition of ‘vegan’ and label products incorrectly.
The Vegan Trademark offers respite from a confusing labelling landscape. It confirms that a product uses no animal-derived ingredients (including during manufacturing) and has not involved animal testing (including on the ingredients and finished product). You can find the Vegan Trademark throughout supermarket aisles, on foods, cosmetics, household cleaners and more.
As well as helping to identify products that are suitable for vegans, the Vegan Trademark has many other benefits. Its use internationally helps to promote veganism and push it towards the mainstream. Increased exposure for the lifestyle is gradually helping to make ‘vegan’ a household name. With more products accurately labelled with the Trademark, the choice for shoppers increases, which only makes it easier to live as a vegan. In addition to this, companies who use the Trademark pay a licence fee, which funds the valuable work that The Vegan Society do, including advocacy, lobbying, education and outreach.
The way that the Trademark operates is simple: when a product is registered with the Vegan Trademark, a large amount of work goes into making sure it meets the strict standards that have been developed by the society. Having coined and defined the word ‘vegan’ in 1944, The Vegan Society is best placed to understand and rule on these standards, and to ensure that the products registering are suitable. An experienced team assess the ingredients and manufacturing methods, ruling out any possible animal-ingredient use, and work closely with companies to reformulate products as vegan where necessary. The team have had great success working with brands such as Astonish and Goody Good Stuff, to help and encourage more of the products to be reformulated as vegan.
Show your support
So what part can you play in changing the labelling landscape going forward? Supporting companies who label their products correctly and contacting them to praise their efforts is a great start.
Smaller independent businesses that actively seek to create vegan products are worth supporting, as are larger companies who include vegan options in their ranges. By buying these items, you are showing retailers that there is a demand for animal-free alternatives. This not only increases the amount of products they will offer, but hopefully labelling standards will also improve as a natural result.
Approaching companies and asking them to consider using the Vegan Trademark can ensure they label products correctly. This will help consumers searching for suitable items, and support the charity that grew the vegan movement from its infancy to secure further its future.
The Vegan Trademark in a nutshell
- Created in 1990 by The Vegan Society
- Over 24,000 products registered
- Registers food, cosmetics, household cleaners and more
- Globally used in over 46 countries
On the rare occasion that companies go backwards and reformulate to add ingredients like milk or cheese, try approaching them to explain that they have made their product less inclusive. Petitions are a great option, and can often create a media buzz which will likely get a company’s attention. Recently, The Vegan Society created a petition to encourage popular biscuit brand Jammie Dodgers to go back to their old recipe. Before milk was added, the biscuit was enjoyed by many, including lactose-intolerant individuals and vegans alike. This petition was picked up by many online media outlets, which helped to grow its momentum. It helped to show that adding milk products to the biscuits was unnecessary and unwanted, which will hopefully prevent other companies from following this route in the future.
For more information, please visit www.vegansociety.com.