Should We Buy Vegan Food from Non-Vegan Companies?

Debate exists in the animal advocacy community over whether or not we should buy vegan food from non-vegan companies. Do you believe we should buy their food? Or should we only support vegan companies making vegan food? Is it a realistic expectation for people who don’t live near a Whole Foods and do their grocery shopping at Target or Wal-Mart?

How are we perceived by people who eat animals who see us refuse to buy vegan food from non-vegan companies? Does that perception impact their view of the exclusivity and difficulty of veganism?

If vegans don’t support non-vegan companies selling vegan food, will demand for vegan food from non-vegan companies be significant enough to sustain their vegan food offerings and inspire the non-vegan companies to offer more vegan food products? Or if vegans help keep vegan products from non-vegan companies with familiar brand names on shelves, does it open the possibility for more non-vegans to try them? Could the demand even spur investments in more vegan options and a gradual shift away from animal-based foods?

Setting aside that ice cream is unhealthy, would you buy the new Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free ice cream? Would you recommend it to friends who eat animals? Why or why not?


17 thoughts on “Should We Buy Vegan Food from Non-Vegan Companies?

  1. I’m no expert, but I do know that the people are generally lazy. It’s a human condition. When we go food shopping. we want it fast (a store close by) and easy. People with jobs, kids, families and no free time don’t want to spend a lot of time shopping for food. We vegans are the only ones who read labels and know what company makes which foods. The public don’t take time to learn all that stuff, and for the most part, don’t know they should.
    So, if our goal is to get people choosing vegan foods over animal based foods, it HAS to be easily available for them. I’m talking about the majority who DO shop at Walmart, Target, and Food Lion.
    Those who consider Whole Foods to be a wealthy persons store, or don’t have one nearby.

    The only way to get those vegan items into the hands of the public at large, is to support and buy those vegan products from whoever is making them and putting them on the shelf.

  2. In my humble opinion, I feel like vegans need to applaud any effort a company makes to provide a vegan product. Any step that non-vegan companies make is a step in the right direction. As much as I’d love it, the world will not become vegan overnight. It’s just not realistic. When it happens (I’m very optimistic!), it’s going to be a gradual process. And I don’t live in an area that has a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, so if I can find vegan products at places like Walmart or Target, I’m going to purchase them. Otherwise, what else am I supposed to do? I do order some things online from Thrive Market, but I can’t get perishables or frozen items.

    When the non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream became available in my area, I eagerly purchased all 4 flavors! I want to support Ben & Jerry’s decision to make this ice cream! And the ice cream is delicious! No, it’s not healthy and I won’t be buying it all of the time, but it’s nice to know that when I want some ice cream, it will be available! Yes, I can purchase ice cream from a vegan company, but I’m sorry; I just haven’t had a non-dairy ice cream that compares to the taste and quality of Ben & Jerry’s! Again, that’s just my humble opinion.

    Thanks for posting this topic for discussion. It was interesting to see how vegans reacted when the B&J ice cream came out. Most people, like me, were excited, but there was also a lot of negative reaction, which frankly kind of surprised me. Let’s celebrate progress, no matter how small!

  3. The more we buy vegan products from traditional stores, the more they will stock them. It’s supply and demand, and another way to show them that we are a force that is getting stronger as demand increases.

  4. In an ideal world, there would be so many vegan options available to everybody everywhere that we wouldn’t even to need consider these questions. Considering, however, that we don’t currently live that ideal world, we do need to take those questions into consideration if we want to make that world a reality.

    While we’d ideally depend upon people’s ethics to make the right decisions, in our Western society, supply & demand is the bottom line of what drives what’s available in any market: the more demand there is for a product, the more people who want to make money off it will supply it. They don’t care if it’s vegan ice cream or chicken wings; they are going to sell what will make money for them. And consumer demand is what determines what they will sell. It’s a vicious circle.

    Also to consider is that we need to admit that it isn’t uncommon for the average person who isn’t familiar with vegan food to equate it with tree bark. If vegan products are offered from a familiar and known brand (such as Ben & Jerry’s), then that acts as a segway to get people to try it.

    So, to answer your question, Andrew: yes, I will most definitely be buying Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream. And if it tastes good, I’ll be recommending it to anybody & everybody & their grandma. If people aren’t interested in the animal welfare aspect of it, then non-dairy ice cream also offers possibility for those who are lactose intolerant or watching their calories.

    We may not have to set aside that ice cream is unhealthy, after all…just buy the vegan variety. 🙂

  5. I would much rather give my business to companies that only produce vegan products, but if nobody buys Mc Donald’s veggie burgers or Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice cream, these companies will eliminate the products from their offerings. It’s a tough call.

  6. I’m in full agreement with Lauralee – I would hate to see all-vegan companies go out of business because everyone was buying the vegan products from non-vegan companies instead. Especially when seeing that companies like Ben & Jerry’s are sinking more money into new non-vegan products off the back of the vegan ice cream launch, I think it just becomes a moral battle to support them. BUT then again, if we want them to continue selling these alternatives, we have to buy them. :/

    1. What about this (and I’m not arguing, just a thought): if we don’t buy our vegan foods from the non-vegan companies but we continue buying from only vegan companies, wouldn’t those brands start to take over? If a big grocery store sold Ben & Jerry’s next to So Delicious, and the vegans only purchased the So Delicious, wouldn’t the stores start to stock more of it, possibly leading to non-vegans purchasing it as well, thereby encouraging the creation of more vegan brands and phasing out non-vegan brands all together? Lofty hopes, I know, but couldn’t it eventually happen?

      1. Hi Danielle,

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

        So Delicious is not a plant-based food company. Many people don’t realize that many of the companies they believe are plant-based food companies are owned by companies that make plant-based and animal-based food just like Ben & Jerry’s.

        So Delicious is owned by WhiteWave Foods. They sell cow’s milk among other dairy products from cows.

        Gardein is owned by Pinnacle Foods which sells food products made from animals including Mrs. Paul’s fish, Duncan Hines cake mixes, and Evolv that sells steak, tacos, mac and cheese, and other products made from cows, chickens, and pigs.

  7. As a vegan, I buy from the more expense vegan companies in a conscious effort to support them. The larger companies are obviously tapping into a new market, but if their prices are lower there will be days when I’m financially constricted that I will purchase their product. If these companies can produce a vegan product at a lower price wouldn’t they be making veganism more accessible to those on low incomes? That’s my hope.

  8. We all buy vegan items from non vegan companies all of the time since there are very, very few all vegan companies. Where do we draw the line? Even companies selling only vegan items deliver those items to stores in trucks with non vegan tires, or keep track of orders on non vegan computers, and so on so it is impossible or at least improbable to attain purity in purchasing. Buying vegan items from companies that strive to be all vegan may be more morally comfortable, but buying vegan items from companies that only offer vegan items so as to take advantage of vegan consumers may be even more important since it tells these companies that there is demand for these products. That demand may prompt non vegan companies to continue making vegan items, and it may also convince them that it is worth the risk to offer still more vegan choices. The more vegan items overall occupying store shelves the better. If our goals are to have more vegan products and to promote veganism as a viable option, we should be glad to have vegan items from any company making them.

  9. Even though I applaud the non-vegan companies for adding vegan products onto their lines, I cannot in good faith support them. For example, I never purchase anything made by Silk or So Delicious because I am aware that they are both owned by a huge dairy company, Whitewave! Whitewave has a touchy-feely web site that talks about sustainability, humane treatment, and yada yada yada, but in the end, they are still using, abusing, and murdering cows for their milk.

    1. I didnt know that about Whitewave but didnt buy Silk anyway. Im not sold on Ben and Jerrys but was somone who signed the petitions and called their HQ personally and requested Vegan Ice Cream. I think offering this as a choice to the otherwise dairy comsumer will at least take away from some suffering each time someone tries it. Also many non vegans may realize the ice cream tastes good, and realize it isnt so hard to go vegan after all. 🙂
      But me personally, it is unlikely I will be supporting this multibillion dollar company who directly supports dairy farmers. Just doesnt sit well with me!

  10. I only support companies that are brave enough to have an all vegan line – such as Hampton Creek – Tofurkey, So Delicious, etc. I think if we buy from these other companies that have exploited animals for decades, we’re supporting the cruelty.

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