“Without the Vegan Trademark, there are other certification bodies that do vegan labelling of course, but none of them have the same standards as us. We’re working to the strongest standards out there.”
The Vegan Trademark, which helps people identify products that are free from animal ingredients and animal testing, is the most universally recognised third party accreditation for vegan labelling. The Society has registered over 46,000 products from 3,000 brands in 79 countries.
Totally Vegan Buzz recently spoke to the Vegan Trademark team to learn more about the work they and the rest of The Vegan Society do, all of which positively impacts every vegan’s life, in celebration of the Trademark’s 30th anniversary.
There is no legal definition of veganism – only The Vegan Society’s definition
As of now, there is no legal definition of the terms ‘vegan’ or ‘veganism’, leaving it up to brands to decide for themselves if their products fit the bill, unless they register with the Vegan Trademark.
Ericka Durgahee, business development marketing manager at The Vegan Trademark, told Totally Vegan Buzz: “The Vegan Society created the term ‘vegan’, and therefore defined veganism, and have been doing that since 1944. Ultimately, the strongest definition of veganism is considered The Vegan Society’s definition. We are really proud of that and we have such high standards as a result.”
One of the key issues with there being no government standards for vegan labelling is how consumers can know whether or not a product is truly vegan, unless they register with the Trademark.
Durgahee explained that there is hope for an ISO to focus on vegan labelling, but while there is no legal definition, “the importance of the Vegan Trademark is so strong, just simply because it’s The Vegan Society who are setting the standards.”
On the upside, more and more brands are beginning to register with the Vegan Trademark: “Even though we’ve been around since 1990, 86% of our product registrations have come in the last five years.”
The Society encourages vegan consumers to urge brands to get certified via The Vegan Trademark.
Veganism as a protected belief
While there is no legal definition of veganism, it has been ruled as a ‘protected belief’ in the UK: “Never before had we seen in government anyone rule in favour of someone being considered discriminated against because they’re vegan until this year.
“It was momentous for vegans because we know the majority who are in a workplace, much like many other protected beliefs, will feel that they are, in some ways, different.”
Durgahee added: “It’s about giving vegans the confidence to be who they are, and know that that’s protected by law.”
Veganism and the impacts of Covid-19
Covid-19 has impacted everyone and everything, and The Vegan Society is no exception.
Initially, there were worries that brands would cut back on product development and there would be less launches and registrations to the Trademark, as well as concerns over whether consumers would toss veganism aside.
“With the panic buying that was going on, [we were concerned that] people would go back in time and not consider veganism or plant-based diets, or be as ecologically conscious as they have been growing to be,” Durgahee explained.
“But actually, The Vegan Society has done some surveys on this, and back in June found that one in five brits now are actively trying to cut down their meat consumption and looking to at least try more plant based options.”
The survey also found 15% have reduced their dairy/egg intake over the lockdown period.
“In terms of the Trademark itself, we are registering as many products as we’ve been registering, and in terms of growth we’re as strong as ever!”
Big wins for veganism in 2020
The Vegan Society is thrilled that Veganuary, which challenges people to go vegan for the month of January, has already reached one million pledges for 2021, more than doubling January 2020’s total.
On top of that, 1/4 consumers across the globe now say they eat meat substitutes, and 42% of European plant-based consumers are eating more meat alternatives than this time 12 months ago, according to a study by Euromonitor International.
Vegans are also set to make up a quarter of the British population in 2025, with flexitarians to make up just under half of all UK consumers, according to Sainsbury’s Future of Food Report.
30th anniversary plans and giveaways
The Vegan Trademark turns 30 this year, however the original plans of shows, consumer events, and lots of vegan cake were stifled by coronavirus.
“We’ve moved a lot more to social media, so if you go and check out our Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn channels, we’re @VeganTrademark, we have lots of product launches and brands who are working with us, and therefore, lots of product giveaways which is super exciting!”
“We’re going to overflow a little bit into 2021 where some of our consumer shows, if they go ahead, will be 30th celebration shows where we’ll have lots of banners up, lots of giveaways going on, and lots of cake hopefully!”
The future of veganism
As veganism grows over the years, “the Society is very much planning for the next 10, 20, 30 years to be the forefront of veganism as we always have been, and the move to veganism will just keep growing.”
CEO of Ecotricity, a Vegan Trademark holder, even made a bet that by 2030, 50% of the population in the UK would be vegan.
‘Make veganism mainstream’
When it comes to the future of veganism, The Vegan Society has many roles to play: “From the Trademark’s perspective, our job, and ultimately the job of The Vegan Society and most vegan charities, is to make veganism mainstream.
“Our goal with the Trademark is to connect with all of the brands, from the person who runs an all vegan company and wants to be able to proudly shout about that and share those credentials, right through to the multi-billion-pound industries.”
Speaking of big brands, 2020 marked the year when every one of the top 10 supermarkets in Britain by revenue had a vegan range available, which The Vegan Society sees as a great step forward.
Currently, The Vegan Society is running its biggest ever campaign, Future Normal, which aims to reconnect people with animals and look at “how you were as a child, or how you are with your pets, and to make that connection in a really positive way. It’s about reconnecting that these are living beings, and that they feel, think, and are sentient.”
A survey commissioned by Future Normal and The Vegan Society has found that almost half of Brits who eat meat feel hypocritical for loving animals while eating others.
Another campaign the Society is currently running is Live Vegan For Less, which challenges the notion that veganism is inherently more expensive than eating meat and dairy – an idea the marketing strategy of these industries has convinced people of.
‘It would be entirely different without us’
The word ‘vegan’ was created by The Vegan Society back in 1944 by combining the first three and last two letters of the word vegetarian.
Speaking about where veganism would be without The Vegan Society, Durgahee said: “It would be entirely different without us. Without the Vegan Trademark, there are other certification bodies that do vegan labelling of course, but none of them have the same standards as us. We’re working to the strongest standards out there.”
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