Vegans warned about choosing products linked to companies that also trade in 'animal exploitation'

'We're sure that many vegans will be horrified that they are unwittingly supporting the milk and dairy industries'

Ryan Butcher
Wednesday 17 January 2018 00:52 GMT

Britain's growing number of vegans have been urged to be "savvier" when it comes to choosing products which are owned by companies with roots in the meat and dairy industries.

Ethical Consumer magazine has released a list of brands it says are owned by companies compatible with the vegan lifestyle, and a list of brands it says are owned by companies that are at odds.

It said that some of the best-loved vegan-friendly brands like Linda McCartney and Vitalite are owned by companies and umbrella corporations that trade on "animal exploitation".

However, some of that the brands in the cross hairs of Ethical Consumer are not directly marketed as being solely for vegans.

Among those being targetted are Alpro, Provamel and Soya Soleil, which are all owned by French food multi-national Groupe Danone, whose annual turnover is almost £19bn.

However, Ethical Consumer has labelled the firm, a "major player in the global fresh dairy products market", with products like Activia yoghurts also being made by the company.

Danone's website describes the company as being a producer of "essential dairy and plant-based products".

Pure produces dairy and gluten free spreads including soya, sunflower and olive, which are suitable for vegans.

However, Ethical Consumer pointed out that it is owned by the Kerry Group, an Irish-based billion pound company whose other well known brands include Richmond's sausages, Wall's sausages, Cheesestrings and Dairygold.

And in fact, in 2016 Pure rolled out a selection of ready meals that included green Thai chicken curry and Singapore chicken noodles.

Vitalite’s owners Dairy Crest also produce a wide range of cheeses and butters, including Cathedral City and Clover.

Ethical Consumer's research also uncovered links between the meat industry and Linda McCartney.

The brand is currently owned by the US-based Hain Celestial, a company involved in the American poultry industry as well as being the owner of Ella’s Kitchen baby food, many varieties of which contain meat.

One of the world's largest multi-nationals, Unilever, also has a stake in the booming vegan market through its dairy-free soy ice cream brand Swedish Glace.

Ethical Consumer warns that the group continues to profit from the meat and dairy industries through its other brands including Ben & Jerry’s, Hellman’s and Knorr.

The brands that Ethical Consumer claim have no links to the dairy and milk industries include Ecomil, Good Hemp, VegiDeli, Dragonfly, The Booja-Booja Company and The Coconut Collaborative.

Isola Bio, Oatly, Plamil, Taifun and Suma, among others, have also been given Ethical Consumer's seal of approval.

Mackenzie Denyer, a researcher at Ethical Consumer, said: “It's great that so many people are now switching to vegan diets. "However, we're asking people to be savvy vegans and, as our research has shown, recognise that not all companies selling vegan brands uphold vegan principles.

“We're sure that many vegans will be horrified that they are unwittingly supporting the milk and dairy industries. The good news is that there are many vegan brands on the shelves that have no links to animal exploitation and have been championing vegan lifestyles for many years.

“The bad news is that as the vegan revolution rolls on we can expect many more companies who have no interest in ending animal exploitation scramble to get a slice of the vegan market.”

In 2016 it was reported that the number of vegans in the UK had risen by 360% in ten years.

At least 542,000 people aged 15 or over have adopted a plant-based diet in the UK, which is up from 150,000 in 2006.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in