Is vegan mainstreaming really saving animals?

Something has been playing on my mind a bit lately.

Is the absolute onslaught of vegan food options such as KFC buckets and burgers done vegan or Impossible burgers actually reducing sales of dead animal products or is it just taking sales away from independent vegan businesses?

Are the customers of these huge chain restaurants and fast food franchises eating less meat or are meat-free people like us now also just flocking to these places where non-vegans also still eat?

Is anyone keeping track of this topic? Where’s the data?

Is bakery chain Greggs selling less meat products while also breaking records with vegan sausage rolls, or are they making all that extra money and still selling the same amount of meat? Or maybe they are selling more meat because vegans are coming into the stores for the first time and dragging friends, family members, and colleagues along for the ride.

Someone with more intellectual capacity and spare time than I have needs to look into what real advances we are making with the wave of vegan menu items swamping the UK and the planet. Are we making a change to the number of animals being killed for food or these businesses simply stealing our funds that would normally be directed to indie vegan business?

Without seeing hard date and sales figures to prove otherwise, I fear we might be paying the multinationals to feed us vegan food with no real improvements for animals.

Let’s discuss Pret A Manger. Do they sell less meat and dairy now that they are championed as a go-to place for vegan options, or do they still sell the same amount of animal products (or even more) and just rake in the vegan cash on top? Has the vegan boom lessened the demand for non-vegan ingredients in a real way for this company or is the plant-based business additional to what they already do and will continue to do?

It’s easy for us vegans to get lost in the excitement of what has been a plant-based food revolution. However, we should be asking these questions and shifting our strategies accordingly if needed. We don’t just need more vegan options. We also need these businesses to be selling less animals.

We are vegan activists, not just vegan consumers.

If these big companies are doing all this vegan stuff but not reducing their use of animals and our indie vegan places are closing because of them, we need to TAKE ACTION. Just because we can get a vegan pizza on every corner doesn’t mean our fight is over.

Veganism ain’t that.

We don’t want our money to be a garnish on top of the money spent on dead animals, we want it to be instead of.

I’m not sure who has the resources to carry out this type of research but I would certainly support such a campaign financially if one of the big action groups or charities wanted to take this on.

Yes, I know that mainstream vegan choices help people transition and helps raise the profile of veganism. But as activists I think we need to stay front and centre of this movement and make ourselves aware of the shifting landscape. If this explosion of vegan food turns out to be doing little to stop animal cruelty significantly, we might need to reassess our tactics.

Maybe our demands need to stop being ‘more vegan options, please’ but rather ‘for every vegan option you put on your menu, you need to take a non-vegan option away’.

Real change, not just taking our money and putting our independently-owned vegan shops and restaurants out of business.

Written by fatgayvegan

  1. Really thought-provoking piece FGV. Something we all need to take account of, when making our daily choices.

  2. In terms of research, I feel like Tim Lang from the Centre for Food Policy might be your guy. Or if not, will know of someone who might be interested.

    Anecdotally though, I know that (some of) my omni or vegetarian friends order vegan when we’re out together now, just because it’s so much easier, and with more options in front of them, some definitely feel more awkward eating dairy/fish/meat in front of me.

    Ultimately though, despite being very excited at the wealth of options out there, I know I need to reel it in a bit and be a bit more mindful at this new vegan landscape.

    Anyway, thanks for a thoughtful piece of writing.

  3. This is excellent! Thank you!

    It appears that in a supermarket, a new vegan option replaces a nonvegan option, because the store has limited shelf space. But in a restaurant, they can just expand the menu and stuff more supplies into their shelves, freezers, and refrigerators, because it doesn’t have to be a beautiful display with everything visible and accessible.

  4. You make a really good point! Although I’d say that there are definitely times where having more mainstream vegan choices doesn’t mean I’m not spending money at indie places; it means I’m not hungry even if I forget to pack a snack in my bag. I just came back from around Moorgate in London (it’s almost 11pm on Friday) and was really glad to be able to grab some food at Leon before I hopped on the bus. I don’t think there are any indie vegan places right around there that are open at that time? And without Pret and Leon and Wagamama, I’d be screwed in airports, you know? There are generally no indie options in terminals for me to give my money to.

  5. Very interesting read! I hope a motivated researcher reads this and sees it as a challenge worth addressing and takes your ideas further – good luck and I look forward to reading any updates you post!

  6. love this and other half and me were discussing just this today – we are gonna happy cow it and try and support totally vegan places as much as we can – cos the other places they are still f – ing killing chickens / cows /piggies – go local – support small xx ps love you FGV

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