Vegan Cheese Brand Sparks Debate With Commercial Featuring Beef Burger

While the ad has been criticized by some, many have argued that it could encourage more people try vegan alternatives


3 Minutes Read

A still from dairy-free company Daiya's advert featuring a real beef burger with vegan cheese The ad has caused a huge stir online - Media Credit: Daiya

Vegan cheese brand Daiya has caused a stir online after unveiling a new commercial featuring a beef burger. 

The ad is part of a new campaign called “100% Plant-Based, Even If You’re Not.” It shows dairy-free cheeseburgers being cooked on a grill.

“This might just be the most controversial commercial of all time,” a voiceover says. “Because plant-based cheese companies like us aren’t supposed to show beef in ads. But at Daiya, we believe everyone should be able to enjoy plant-based cheese, even on a beef burger.” The ad finishes with the words “enough controversy, let’s eat.”

Daiya advert divides opinion

A supermarket fridge containing dairy-free pizzas
Adobe Stock Daiya is known for its extensive vegan food line

Daiya Foods was established in Vancouver, Canada, in 2008. It’s one of North America’s leading dairy-free brands, known for its coconut-oil based cheese alternatives that are hugely popular with vegans. 

Some have questioned Daiya’s decision to include real meat in its marketing when so much of its consumer base are vegan. Veganism is a movement against animal exploitation, with followers of the lifestyle abstaining from all animal products, including meat. One person said on Reddit that Daiya is “not a vegan ally,” while another compared the company to dairy-free brand Oatly (which previously sparked backlash for distancing itself from the vegan label in its messaging).

Daiya has said that it’s ad is trying to encourage more people to try dairy-free alternatives. “Our aim is not to convert, but to invite everyone to discover and enjoy the benefits of plant-based eating, showing how our products can add delicious variety to their meals, enhancing the culinary experience for all, regardless of dietary choices,” John Kelly, Daiya chief marketing officer, told Adweek.

Fans defend Daiya

Many people have taken to social media to defend Daiya’s decision to use meat. Around 11 percent of US citizens describe themselves as “flexitarians,” while 36 percent have lactose malabsorption (a reduced ability to digest lactose). Studies have shown that the vegan label puts diners off plant-based food, and some have argued that the ad could bring vegan cheese to a wider sector of the population, which could save more animals in the long run.

“If they can get meat eaters to open their mind even slightly about the viability of animal product alternatives then they have made progress,” one person wrote. “A ‘right now’ all-or-nothing approach to converting people almost always fails.”

Another added: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, or whatever the old saying is. If this is somebody’s first step into vegan alternatives, I’m all for it.”

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