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Vegan food brands whose owners sell meat or dairy

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

As you gorge yourself on plant cheese and dairy-free yoghurt, your money could still be finding its way into the pockets of those who profit from animal exploitation.

If you find the typical life cycle of a dairy cow in the UK unethical, you may want to double-check the ownership of some of the vegan bands you buy.

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

Vegan Brands Product type Owners Meat/Dairy brands
Alpro, Follow Your Heart, Provamel, Soya Soleil, Silk, Plant based milks and yoghurts Groupe Danone Danone; Oykos; Activia; Danonino; Silk; Actimel; Prostokvashino (Russia); International Delight (contains traces of dairy) 
Cauldron, Quorn Meat alternatives Monde Nissin Nissin; Dutchy Mill; Quorn (contains small amounts of egg and dairy in some products); Voice and Bingo; Monde; Lucky Me!; Voiz; Mama Sita's; Dutch Mill
Linda McCartney Meat alternatives, plant milks Hain Celestial Yorkshire Provender; Cully & Sully; Hartley's jelly; New Covent Garden Co.
Pure dairy free spread Vegan spread Kerry Group LowLow; Cheestrings, Dairygold, Charleville Cheese
Swedish Glace, Vegetarian Butcher Meat-free alternatives Unilever Ben and Jerry's; Wall's; Hellman's; Magnum
Vitalite, Sheese Vegan spread, vegan cheese Saputo Dairy (formerly Dairy Crest) Cathedral City; Davistow; Clover; Country Life; Utterly Butterly; Willow;
Violife Vegan cheese Upfield (owned by KKR) KKR invests in pharmaceutical companies which test on animals and a company that produces meat products; Upfield sells dairy brands (e.g. Flora)
Mozzarisella Vegan cheese Frescolat Frescolat also sells dairy products
Vivera, Richmond sausages, Fridge Raiders Meat alternatives JBS Richmond, Wall's, Fridge Raiders, Moy Park (huge chicken producer in Northern Ireland). Also owns Tulip Ltd: Tulip; Danepak bacon; Adam's; Cherry Tree Farm; Alf Turner; Spam; Stagg Chili
Gosh! Meat alternatives Sonae Food, fashion and electronics

Danone owns Alpro 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 left many consumers stunned and outraged.

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 Dairygold and Cheesestrings.

Vitalite’s owners Dairy Crest (now Saputo Dairy, based in Canada), produce a wide range of cheeses and butters, including Cathedral City, Clover and Utterly Butterly. In 2021 they also bought Sheese (Bute Island Foods), a vegan cheese company based on the Isle of Bute, Scotland. Sheese also make most of the UK supermarket 'own brand' vegan cheese such as Morrisons and Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose) and have been making vegan cheese since the late 1980s. Saputo will reportedly invest £3m in the local community over five years.

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 Cauldron is not an exclusively vegan brand, its growing number of vegan products warrants their inclusion. Their Filipino owners Monde Nissin’s other brands include Dutch Mill yogurt and Lucky Me instant noodles (many containing meat). 

Our article '10 ethical brands owned by unethical companies' expands on some of these companies, and has been extended to 15 brands, including Vivera by JBS.

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. Follow the links below to view the guides:

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