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Vegan food brands whose owners sell meat or dairy

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

Depending on which brands of vegan and dairy-free cheese, milks and yoghurt you buy, your money could still be finding its way into the pockets of those who profit from animal exploitation.

To help you find out more, we've delved into the parent companies of some of the big well-known vegan brands you might see in the supermarket.

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.

We believe it's important to 'follow the money', and to trace the ultimate ownership of brands, as profits ultimately find their way to the top.

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;
Cauldron, Quorn Meat-free alternatives Monde Nissin Nissin; 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-free alternatives, plant milks Hain Celestial Yorkshire Provender; Cully & Sully; Hartley's jelly; New Covent Garden Co.
Swedish Glace, Vegetarian Butcher Meat-free alternatives Unilever Ben and Jerry's; Wall's; Hellman's; Magnuml Carte D’Or
Vivera, Richmond sausages, Fridge Raiders Meat-free 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-free alternatives Sonae Portuguese supermarket chain Continente, which sells eggs, meat and milk not marketed as free range
Squeaky Bean Meat-free alternatives Compleat Bowyers; Wall’s Pastry; Pork Farms
Pure dairy free spread Vegan spread Kerry Group Cheestrings, Dairygold, Charleville Cheese
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
nurishh Vegan cheese The Bel Group

Babybel; Boursin

Applewood, Ilchester, Mexicana Vegan cheese TINE SA Norway’s largest producer of dairy products
Wunda Vegan and non-dairy milks Nestlé KitKat; Haagen-Dazs; Aero; Purina Petcare and others
Almond Breeze Vegan and non-dairy milks Blue Diamond Other products contain dairy
Bruce Vegan and non-dairy milks Soulfresh The Milk Thief
Good Hemp Vegan and non-dairy milks Part owned by Inverleith Part owns Farmison (meat) and Montane (uses leather and down)
Jord Vegan and non-dairy milks Arla Arla
Sojade Vegan and non-dairy milks Olga French cheese and milk brands
Sharpham Park Vegan and non-dairy milks Sharpham Park Spelt farm that includes of herd of deer used for meat

Dairy giant Danone owns vegan Alpro and Provamel brands

This contradiction is best exemplified by French multi-national Groupe Danone, a company which claims it is the global number one for both fresh dairy and plant based products. In 2016 it completed the purchase of WhiteWave Foods, whose brands include Alpro and Provamel.

Alpro, which is by far the UK's best known vegan brand of plant milks, 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.

Arla, one of the world’s largest dairy companies, owns the Jord vegan milk brand. Nestlé owns Wunda vegan milk.

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 who have been making vegan cheese since the late 1980s. Saputo will reportedly invest £3m in the local island community over five years.

In June 2022, Saputo’s UK subsidiary Dairy Crest admitted to 21 pollution incidents and permit breaches since 2016 at its creamery in Cornwall. Local residents say they were forced to endure “horrendous smells” which left them with headaches and vision problems. It was also alleged that fish were killed due to the “sludge” pollution, in the River Inny which is home to native wild brown trout among other species.

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 soya 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. 

Applewood – another well-recognised brand from wholefood shops – is owned by TINE SA, Norway’s biggest dairy producer, along with Ilchester and Mexicana vegan cheese.

Cauldron (which has gone fully vegan in summer 2023 after removing egg from the last few products) is owned by Monde Nissin whose other brands include Dutch Mill yoghurt 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.

5 vegan brands owned by meat and dairy companies

Vegan companies producing vegan brands

But don't despair! 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.

Consumer actions and options

What can you do about vegan products and brands being owned by non-vegan companies?

There are lots of vegans who say it's good to show the big brands that there is a real market and money in vegan and plant-based foods. And there are other people who say it's good to support the fully vegan companies.

For many people, buying these well-known brands may be the most convenient, or cheapest, or best-tasting options. Please don't make yourself feel bad for buying them if there are few other choices for you. Especially because their environmental impact is far lower than their meat and dairy equivalents.

But, if you are in a position to make a choice, you might consider buying from a fully vegan company, if you feel where your money goes is important. Check out some of our ethical shopping guides in the links below.