In her book “Not buying it. My year without shopping” writer Judith Levine describes how she and her partner made do for a year with what they had, only shopping for groceries (unprocessed foods only). She points out that market research only ever looks into the things people buy, but no-one ever tries to find out what people don’t buy and why they’re not buying what they’re not buying.
As a vegetarian and now a vegan I often find myself in situations where I would love to buy something – but can’t, because the product I long to buy simply doesn’t exist. Buying vegan shoes on the high street is impossible – I have to order them over the Internet from small shoemakers in other countries (see articles here and here). I have to make my own organic vegan “Liptauer,” a delicious Austrian bread spread. There’s no vegan Mexican restaurant in Vienna, and the only Indian restaurant, which offers vegan versions of its food, is set to close in the fall. According to the latest research, approximately 9.000 vegans live in Vienna, Austria. That’s 9.000 potential consumers whose needs aren’t being met.
I’ve decided to publish a series of articles about my decision to become a vegetarian and subsequently a vegan. I’ll describe my evolution as a consumer. I’ll describe when and why I stopped buying certain things. These articles are aimed at market researchers, who would like to get a better insight into vegetarians’ and vegans’ needs. Hopefully, they’ll raise awareness among companies which are looking for new product ideas and ways to expand their businesses. Vegetarians and vegans have money too – and we’d like to spend it. Help us do that.
I’ll publish a short article each Monday, and describe one step of my journey. I became a vegetarian at age 15, and will celebrate my 47th birthday next month. So that’s 32 years of not being able to buy all the things I need and want. That’s a lot of money saved (for me) but also a lot of money that wasn’t put into the economy. Mind you, I am not promoting needless spending, but I really could use a new pair of shoes!