Lately, vegan products have seen a clear rise in the market. Free From foods aisles have slowly grown in the past year and the demand for non-dairy milks is now big enough for most major supermarkets to produce their own soy milk. But what happens when major non-vegan brands decide to get a slice of this on-growing market?

Mun Ling Koh

With the launch Hellmann’s vegan mayo, Bailey’s Almande, and the Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice creams finally hitting the UK shelves, it seems like vegans are gaining more and more choices when it comes to their shopping lists. But is it really good to buy from brands who also support the meat and dairy industries? Should you or should you not take advantage of this market moment? 

The McVegan Debate

Mun Ling Koh

A couple of weeks ago, McDonald’s announced they are working on a new vegan burger. The vegetarian option — at least in the UK — is actually already vegan, if you order the burger mayo-less. However, the launch of this new product re-opened the never ending debate about whether it is or isn’t appropriate for vegans to consume vegan products from non-vegan brands. On the one hand, there's the issue of paying money into a company which contributes to the dairy or meat industry. On the other hand, by buying only their vegan products, you both send a message to the company and increase the vegan demand.

Why You Should

As I mentioned before, buying vegan products makes a statement. After all, choosing to buy alternatives to cows' milk is what has made almond and soy milks so readily available in supermarkets in the first place. This is a clear signal that people are listening and that we have the power to bring an important change to the market.

Buying vegan products from non-vegan brands could potentially raise the same demand. This could mean that brands who are producing just one vegan product may invest even more in the vegan market. And the more money the vegan market has, the less animals are likely to be harmed or killed. Essentially, the more you buy Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice cream, the more Tesco’s will stock it and the more money the company will spend on creating them in place of their dairy counterparts.

Why You Shouldn’t

The problem comes when you don’t know what Ben & Jerry's will do with the money that you give them. Yes, potentially it could be used to invest in vegan products, but in the meantime, it'll probably still be used for dairy farming. Hoping they will eventually turn completely vegan is also a long and overly optimistic shot.

A bigger statement would be instead to boycott these brands all together. If you only buy from vegan brands, you’re more clearly saying that you don’t want anything to do with animal-based food products. 

In Conclusion

Personally, I don’t have a clear opinion and it's not my intention to tell anyone what to do. Both sides have great and valid points, and there are more considerations that need to be made on both sides. However, if you’re still choosing the vegan option over the non-vegan one, you’re doing great for the vegan cause, no matter where you're buying it from. The important thing is to do as much as you can to affirm your beliefs, whatever they might be!