A third of consumers are repulsed by the word 'Vegan' | Totally Vegan Buzz

A third of consumers are repulsed by the word ‘Vegan’

A third of consumers are repulsed by the word ‘Vegan’
Image: Pixabay / Pexels

More than a third of consumers are put off buying a product purely by the word ‘vegan’, new research has revealed.

A study by the World Resources Institute asked US consumers about language used in products.

A shocking 35 percent of those questioned said that the word vegan – simply indicating it contains no animal products – made a product seem ‘less appealing’.

In fact, of all 21 phrases studied, such as ‘gluten free’, ‘diet’ or ‘sugar-free’, veganism was the biggest turn-off for consumers.

Image: Wrold Resources Institute

Another study of British newspapers in 2011 looked at the use of the word ‘vegan’ in the media.

It found that 74 percent of 397 articles which mentioned ‘vegan’ portrayed the diet as impossible, and associated it with terms ‘restrictive’, ‘faddist’, ‘hippie’ and ‘weak’.

And as recently as 2017, the Better Buying Lab commissioned social media analytics company Brandwatch to analyse 15.4 million posts about vegan and vegetarian food in the US and UK.

The word ‘vegan’ was more than twice as likely to be associated with negative connotations than ‘plant-based’.


Brandwatch vice president Edward Crook reflected on the study: “Our analysis found the vegan lexicon to be quite divisive online, and it may prevent some people experimenting with the growing range of plant-based proteins available.

“To broaden mainstream appeal, new language is needed that avoids an ‘us-them’ mentality.”

Supermarkets have experimented with the wording of plant-based products, and found removing ‘meat free’ or ‘vegan’ to bring success.

In 2017 Sainsbury’s renamed its ‘Meat-Free Sausage and Mash’ product to ‘Cumberland Spiced Veggie Sausages and Mash’, leading to a 76 percent sales spike.

A third of consumers are repulsed by the word ‘Vegan’
Image: Wrold Resources Institute

Claire Hughes, head of quality and innovation at Sainsbury’s, said: “This trial has provided some fascinating insights into what can impact a customer’s choice when choosing a vegetarian dish and just how impactful language can be on that final decision.

“We will now apply the insights from this study across our wider range of Sainsbury’s Own Brand food items to help broaden the appeal of our plant-based products and encourage customers to follow a more sustainable diet as a result.”

What do you think of this study? Tell us in the comments section below!

Published by Oli Gross

Oli’s career and personal ethical values both help shape his reporting of the diverse world of veganism. His background is in local newspaper and magazine journalism, and his work has included reporting court cases, celebrity interviews, business analysis, food and drink features and government legislation.



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