Are Corporate Buyouts Reason to Boycott Vegan Products?

These days, it’s nothing unusual. Right and left, corporate giants are buying successful vegan companies, eager to cash in the impressive popularity of plant-based brands. And that leaves ethical vegans with a complicated decision.

Should they continue to buy those well-loved products or dump them because the brands are now in the hands of non-vegan corporate giants?

I see this debate on Facebook time and again, with each new corporate buyout. Every corporate deal seems to bring out vegan critics and fans:

And the list goes on. There are two predominant opinions on this phenomenon in the vegan community:

1. Walk away from the product. The new owner/new investor is vile.

2. Keep buying the product to demonstrate to our corporate overlords that vegan goods are profitable — perhaps even more profitable than non-vegan goods, eventually.

“It’s great that so many people are now switching to vegan diets,” Mackenzie Denyer of Ethical Consumer told Plant Based News. “However, we’re asking people to be savvy vegans and, as our research has shown, recognize 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.”

Well, yes — having seen the Facebook debates, many are indeed horrified. I certainly don’t want my dollars going to someone who’s going to use them in support of harm to animals.

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Photo Credit: Scott Warman/Unsplash

Here’s the problem I have with that reaction, though. Boycotting a popular animal-friendly product means that sales will plummet — and that’s no way to prove its long-term worth to large investors, who may already doubt the strength of the vegan market/

I’m a vegan for ethical reasons. I fully understand committed ethical vegans’ desire to avoid financially rewarding companies that have failed to prioritize animal welfare. Tofurky CEO Jaime Athos explained this position well in an interview with Food-Navigator-USA:

Maintaining our values is important because in this age of transparency, people care not just about what they buy, but who they buy it from and they want to know that they are not supporting companies that are doing evil.

The contrary opinion — supporting the product after it’s owned by a major corporation — takes a different tack: the long game.

Animals benefit when companies invest more heavily in animal-friendly products. And widespread popularity of a cruelty-free product means the company will pour more resources into others like it.

Most companies are in business to make money. If vegan consumers demonstrate to that they will buy animal-friendly products, they prove those products are profitable and ensure a strong, steady market — a worthy investment.

Tobias Leenaert of Vegan Strategist explains the argument well:

Big companies have a lot more means at their disposal than small companies. They have bigger and wider distribution channels and a bigger customer base. With their money, they can obviously increase advertising and expose more and more people to Daiya, or any vegan product. They can boost R&D; so, new products can be developed and old ones can be made even better. Last but not least: once a company stands to win from the sales of plant-based products, it is logical to assume that their antagonism to veganism/plant-based alternatives will decrease.

In time, if enough of consumers demand cruelty-free foods and other products, those items will become available on a much wider scale. That’s a big win for the animals — a much larger victory than abandoning those products completely.

I side with those who want to see animal-friendly products succeed. I want to see vegan products become more plentiful on store shelves than anything else out there.

Sure, dropping a so-called “sell out” product gives us a certain sense of righteousness — but does it really, truly help the animals in the long run? Count me as one ethical vegan who doesn’t think so.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Susan Bird

75 comments

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Tks for sharing.

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DAVID f
Past Member 9 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues9 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues9 months ago

Yfs

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues9 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues9 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues9 months ago

Interesting article

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Ann B
Ann B9 months ago

all companies have lost the trust from their consumers...it is a roll of the dice what you get

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Janet B
Janet B10 months ago

Thanks

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Pietro M
Pietro Maiorana10 months ago

L'incarto è comunque eccessivo :)

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