10 vegan food brands whose owners sell meat or dairy

As you gorge yourself on nut cheese and coconut yogurt for Veganuary your money could still be finding its way into the pockets of those who profit from animal exploitation 

Launched back in January 2014, Veganuary challenges people to forego meat and dairy and go all out herbivore for a whole month. But vegan novices beware. 

Our new research reveals that the UK's vegans are unwittingly supporting companies that are deeply involved in the meat and dairy industries.

Below is a list of vegan brands we have found to be owned by non-vegan companies:

Table: vegan brands meat dairy

Danone owns Aplro and Provamel brands

This contradiction is best exemplified by French multi-national Groupe Danone, a company with a 24.4% share in the global fresh dairy products market, who in 2016 completed the purchase of WhiteWave Foods, whose brands include Alpro, Provamel and Soya Soleil.

Alpro, which is by far the UK's best known vegan brand, are now part of a brand roster that includes Activa yogurt, Cow & Gate baby milk and Actimel.

What’s more Danone remain subject to multiple consumer boycotts over their aggressive marketing of their baby milk formula.

This £12.5billion takeover has left many consumers stunned and outraged, especially after Alpro tweeted this message endorsing dairy products soon after the takeover:

A healthy diet consists of 2/3 of plant based food and 1/3 of animal based. With Alpro we offer alternatives to help you set the balance! pic.twitter.com/QeDdYZQQNP

— Alpro (@Alpro) October 10, 2016

The online anger prompted vegan brand Oatly to release a cheeky response on social media:

A cool diet consists of 3/3 of plant based food. Just saying. pic.twitter.com/EZGg7bXY6D

— Oatly (@OatlyAB) October 11, 2016

Many vegans have been left questioning the ethical implications of one of the world’s biggest dairy companies owning vegan brands. With Danone claiming it signifies a move towards sustainability, will consumers see through this greenwashing and realise these multinationals are simply trying to cash in on the global vegan boom?

Other meat and dairy companies that own vegan brands

At Ethical Consumer, we have found other cases of this ethical conundrum for vegans. Take dairy free spreads such as Pure and Vitalite for example; Pure is owned by the Kerry Group, whose other well known brands include Richmond’s sausages, Wall’s Sausages, Dairygold and Cheesestrings.

While Vitalite’s owners Dairy Crest, produce a wide range of cheeses and butters, including Cathedral City, Clover and Utterly Butterly.

We also found links between the meat industry and cornerstone vegan brands such as Linda McCartney, whose public championing of the meat-free lifestyle has contributed significantly to the current boom in alternative diets.

The brand is currently owned by Hain Celestial, a company who sells poultry products in the US, as well as owning Ella’s Kitchen baby food, much of which contains meat.

One of the world's largest multi-nationals, Unilever, also has a stake in the vegan market through their dairy-free soy ice cream brand Swedish Glace. However, the group continue to profit from the meat and dairy industries through their other brands, such as Hellman’s, Ben & Jerry’s and Knorr. 

Although it may be well known that Quorn and Cauldron are not exclusively vegan brands, their growing number of vegan products warrants their inclusion. Their Philippine owners Monde Nissin’s other brands include Dutch Mill yogurt and Lucky Me instant noodles (many containing meat). 

Vegan companies producing vegan brands

You will be glad to hear that this is not the case for all vegan products. There are many listed in our plant milk and meat-free burgers and sausages guides that have no links to the dairy or meat industries. Such as:

Image: vegan brands milk substitutes

See our guide to Plant Milk

See our guide to Meat Substitutes

See our guide to Dairy Free Ice Cream

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