Should we hold vegan brands to higher moral standards?

Sara Nigohosyan questions whether all vegan brands are as ethical as they seem

Sara Nigohosyan
7th September 2020
Image Credit: Open Food Facts
Veganism has become an increasingly popular lifestyle within the last few years, not only because of its health and environmental benefits, but also because of its supposed higher moral and ethical conduct. 

However, recent criticism of Oatly’s relationship with firms linked to deforestation of the Amazon rainforests, has caused debate over whether we should simply assume vegan brands are ethical. The vegan oat milk brand came under fire for signing a deal with Blackstone, a Trump-supporting, environmentally negligent private firm. This raised a lot of questions regarding whether some vegan companies are really as ethical as they claim.

The general public is often aware of the mistreatment of animals and the environment by larger food corporations, but why is there no similar outrage against them? 

When a company is claiming to be different, consumers expect that to be true

The fact is that we have become accustomed to turning a blind eye to the cruel reality of the food industry. However, when it comes to vegan companies that preach higher moral values, our expectations change. When a company is claiming to be different, consumers expect that to be true. In the case of Oatly, perhaps their successfully marketed image of an environmentally conscious and ethical brand is the reason for the public’s surprise when the controversies occurred. The vegan milk company was held to a higher moral standard because of its own marketing, and claims of being morally superior to many other brands. 

In an ideal world, every brand would be held to high moral standards, but unfortunately, this is not our current reality. This is why so much weight is being put on the ethics of vegan producers - they are seen as the “good guys” in the food industry, the ones which promote and promise change. Naturally, people’s optimistic nature leads them to believe that, meaning those brands are held accountable when they go against their own claims.

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