Trump & Vegans

Lesson & trends in food labeling
· Disruption,marketing,social impact,plantbased,vegan

Donald Trump is in the media. No surprise there.

This time it’s because of Covid-19 and the up-coming US Elections.

I hope he recovers well.

Compared to the former US Presidents, Trump has a skill like no other; his ability to polarise the public. You either love him or despise him.

Would you agree?

Now, how does this relate to vegans?

While the word vegan relates to minimising the harm of animals, the intersectionality nature of vegans is that they care about ‘progressive’ issues like the environment, social justice issues etc.

How can you despise someone like that?

While many vegans may be a polar opposite to Trump’s public view, yet the word ‘vegan’ has a similar effect on the public to that of Trump – love or loathe.

Having nurtured a plant-based community for ten years, I used to hear some ‘flexitarian’ members describe vegans as extreme. Not realising they are talking to a vegan, in me.

This view is not an anomaly.

In a 2018 survey by Morning Consult in the US. The following question was asked:

Do each of the following words or phrases, commonly found on food or beverage products, make you more or less likely to buy the product?”

Over 35% of the participants found the word vegan less appealing, and another 12% didn’t have an opinion. See table below.

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Bruce Friedrich, the Executive Director of US Good Food Institute (GFI) agrees:

Plant-based proteins may be booming but if sustainable eating is to become mainstream – and companies are to maximise sales – they should avoid vegan or vegetarian labels” – Bruce

GFI is arguably the world’s leading institution supporting alternate protein growth.

If you have an amazing vegan product aimed at the general public, by labelling it vegan, you are automatically alienating a large number of potential customers

This outcome slows your commercial success and further holds back your social impact and sustainability efforts.

Hence why many vegan products are marked as ‘vegan friendly” or “plant-based” to highlight the difference. Some are marked as vegan, in smaller fonts, at the side or back of the pack.

Pioneering brands like Tofurky and Beyond Meat adhere to these principles in naming their products as plant-based.


There is a commercial counter-argument.

Miyoko’s Creamery did not shy away from the word vegan; they embraced it. They market themselves as “Phenomenally Vegan” to shift public perception. Their sales have increased significantly, which means ‘flexitarian’ customers are still buying the product.

However, the phenomenally vegan is in small letters on their current packaging.

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In Europe, the pioneering plant-based milk brand Oatly goes further. They mark themselves as 100% vegan in Europe, and go on to say in their packaging:

It is “a crime”’ to pursue profits “without any consideration for the wellbeing of the planets and the humans that live here”.

Most companies think having a strong opinion means scaring away customers who think differently. We think it’s a good way to make some new friends.

Note the font they have used for their packaging; they are playfully delivering a serious message.

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For Oatly products in Australia, it’s hidden.

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Yet Oatly is pioneering in many other ways, by asking food producers to add their carbon footprint to their packaging. The ecological footprint of products will eventually catch-on.

There is evidence to say the public will start caring.   


Oatly just raised $200m in funds to value the business at $2Billion. So it is possible.

In 2020 and Onwards – My thoughts

Comparisons between Trump and Vegan stop here.

As predicted, Trump is becoming even more polarising – and that’s his go-to approach.

While the word vegan, while still having a negative connotation for some, is becoming more normalised into the mainstream.

For a sustainable planet, the majority of humans will need to replace farmed animal protein. I dive into this topic in great detail with a keynote Drivers Accelerating a Plant-based World.

For the natural environment, and public health there is no alternative. Food security, zoonotic diseases and caring for animals, further adds to the momentum.

With Covid-19 wreaking havoc in much of the world, it has been an incredibly challenging period for many businesses.

As I predicted in March of 2020, the silver lining to the dark clouds has been the rise of the vegan food consumption. Here’s Mintel’s UK research supporting this view:

  •  (25%) of young British Millennials (aged 21-30) say that the COVID-19 pandemic has made a vegan diet more appealing.
  • These plant-loving Millennials are not alone, as the research reveals that a vegan diet is proving more attractive to over one in ten (12%) of all Brits, rising to almost a quarter (22%) of Londoners, since the start of the pandemic.
  • This comes as Mintel research indicates there is a strong belief in the healing power of plants, as half of Brits (51%) believe plant/botanical ingredients (eg herbs, spices) can have medicinal benefits (ie treating ailments).

And in Canada. The reasons outlines:

  • People are prioritising their health
  • Animal consumption and the environment
  • Contamination in Abattoirs & processing centres.

These patterns will appear around the world and in Australia too.

To close off, what will you do differently to market your products to a broader audience?

Whether you choose vegan or plant-based, if you want to build a brand that matters, you will need to make a stand as some point.

I trust you have found this piece insightful.

If you know anyone who could benefit from this piece, please do share with them.