This news sent many online commenters into a fury, denouncing the idea as ‘vegan propaganda gone mad’.
In fact, though there was no mention of vegans having had anything to do with it, every criticism I saw of the meat tax mentioned veganism as the universal ill which was now infringing on people’s rights to eat and live as they wish.
In another (more low key) example of vegan hate, it was my birthday the other day and to celebrate, I brought a bag of vegan Candy Kittens into the office for my colleagues.
While one health editor banged on about how delicious they were, other journos flat-out refused to take one once they found out that they were vegan.
“Absolutely not,” one replied, “I don’t trust it – why would I want a vegan sweet?”
He’d rather eaten a sweet packed with boiled down beef bones than plants.
As veganism soars in popularity (one in eight of us now claims to be meat-free, according to The Guardian) and our influence reaches further, the distrust of plant-based living also seems to be on the rise.
People don’t like being told what to do, something meat-eaters often claim vegans try to do. As a result, they back away from anything with the label.
We know from the whole Waitrose-editor-email-debacle at the hate towards us is real and totally illogical.
So maybe it’s time to start looking towards a future where we can ditch the label ‘vegan’.
After all, we don’t really need to have the word stamped on foods to tell us that we can eat them or not – that’s what the ingredient grid is for. We don’t need to be told if an item of clothing is vegan because we can check the material label.
Skincare is a little different in that often ingredients are listed in ultra-medicalized language that is time-consuming to read and process. So maybe we do need a vegan label there, alongside an anti-animal testing one.
Although we’re still a minority, we are growing ever more mainstream.
Veganism has been an umbrella under many of us have made friends, learned about ethics, health, fitness, nutrition etc. It’s been a way of unifying people who care about a common cause and who have often been lambasted for caring about the planet above our own selfish needs and wants.
But in the near future, perhaps ‘vegan’ is more of a hindrance than a help. Maybe it’s stopping more people from trying new foods and ways of living.
Your old nan might be distrustful of a vegan chocolate truffle, even if it is Booja Booja. But if you simply offered her a luxury dark chocolate piece, perhaps she’d be willing to give it a try.
For those who may not know about the philosophy behind veganism, it can be a loaded term which speaks of elitism, competition, and expense.
It sits in free-from aisle and organic stores that few can afford to buy from. It sneers at people who are trying out plant-based living but haven’t got to the point where they feel like they can do it full-time, forever.
It’s a tag which has served its purpose up till now and clearly saves a lot of time in terms of searching ingredients lists. But one just wonders if the (often unjustly negative) emotion shown towards veganism, vegans and the word ‘vegan’ is hampering our progress.
In an ideal world, everything would be vegan, and while that’s probably unrealistic, is it too much to hope for a future where people naturally live a more plant-based life and where, as animal products dwindle in their production, there’s little need for distinction between the two?