More and more surveys are being published recently which reveal that the term “plant-based” is preferred over “vegan” and “vegetarian” in terms of food labelling, with the v-words increasingly being associated with unappetising connotations or seen as alienating to those who do not adhere strictly to a meat-free diet, or who perceive vegetarian and vegan food to be bland.
Last year, a survey carried out by Mattson revealed that a group of 1,163 American adults overwhelmingly prefer the term “100 percent plant-based” to “vegan”, believing the first to be more flexible, better tasting, and healthier. Of this group, when asked which kind of food is healthier, 68 percent felt that plant-based was better for them. When asked which tastes better, only 27 percent chose vegan. It was noted that plant-based is perceived as a lifestyle choice whereas the word vegan is associated with the notion of being deprived. “Being vegan is about deprivation; it’s about saying no, no, no” said Barb Stuckey of Mattson.
A study of 2,200 Americans carried out by Morning Consult in May this year, found that 35 percent feel the word “vegan” makes a food product more unappealing than any other phrase or word presented. In this study, the label “Fresh” was the most appealing term whereas “Vegan” was the very least appealing, with only 17 percent saying that this word would make a food product seem appealing.
In response to such customer surveys, a variety of food manufacturers are choosing to drop the word vegan from their packaging. Impossible Foods has advised restaurants not to use the term when describing the Impossible Burger on menus. CEO Pat Brown said, “For many people, their notion of a vegan is someone who’s wagging a finger at them if they eat any animal products. I’m vegan. But for a lot of people that term — it’s almost like a cult.”
Beyond Meat also chooses to avoid the V words, in their bid to appeal to omnivores and flexitarians as their core market, striving to have their products stocked alongside meat in supermarkets. The recently launched product from JUST (previously Hampton Creek), the Just Egg, will be sold amongst chickens’ eggs in stores and will not use the word vegan on packaging; “(Plant-based) has become more associated with foods that actually taste good,” stated Just CEO Josh Tetrick.