Information, that’s what.
I bet you didn’t expect that, but it’s true. We live in a non-vegan world and many products either contain animal ingredients or use animal ingredients during the production process. Additives are another problem. This makes any purchasing decision a huge challenge.
A few examples:
Do you think wine, beer, or orange juice is vegan? Not necessarily so. Animal ingredients are used during production (for clarification or “filtering”), therefore rendering those drinks unsuitable for vegan consumption. It is possible to produce vegan wines and juices, but not many businesses choose to do so.
Sugar isn’t necessarily vegan either. Animal ingredients can be used during the filtering process. If you read the labels of many products – even “vegan” products – you’ll see that many of them contain sugar. As a vegan, I need more information, so I can make my purchasing decision. If I’m not certain that a product is truly vegan, I simply won’t buy it.
Many products contain food additives, and many of those are animal-derived. If your product lists additives on the packaging, I probably won’t buy it unless I know for sure that these additives are non-animal derived. To give you a better idea of the scope of this problem, check out the (British) Vegan Society’s list of animal-derived substances.
Do you own a restaurant where you serve meat and fish and milk products? Did you know that cross-contamination might be a problem for strict vegans? Do you use the same oil to prepare fried chicken and French fries? Guess what, most vegans will take a pass, because cross-contamination will make those fries – and many other “vegan” items on your menu – unsuitable for consumption. We might order the salad, but most likely we’ll seek out other restaurants. If you offer a few items on your menu that are truly vegan and educate your staff about the problem of cross-contamination, you’re already way ahead of the competition. Make sure to let us know how these meals are prepared. Be specific, and provide us with as much information as possible, so we can decide for ourselves. There might be unexpected problems, like the use of sugar as an ingredient (see above).
Household products are another issue. Does your product contain glue? Glue might contain animal ingredients, therefore rendering it – and many products – unsuitable for vegans.
These are just a few examples to give you a better idea of the issues that concern us. It’s difficult to know which products are truly vegan, and as a result we’re not the most enthusiastic consumers. There’s a huge potential for increased profits for businesses that cater to vegans’ needs – and providing as much information as possible about your product is an essential first step to winning us as new customers.
I strongly believe that many businesses simply don’t know what vegans want. As a result, we all lose:
Businesses miss out on potential customers and sales. There are millions of vegans living all over the world and our needs are being ignored. Vegans as a consumer segment are poorly understood and many businesses aren’t aware that they could considerably improve their revenue if they only produced more products that vegans can buy, too. Ignoring our needs is simply bad business.
Vegans have to make do without many products and services they would like to buy or use. We like to shop, too. Take my money, please.
Are you a vegan? Would you like to tell the world what you want (and need)? Here’s your chance to say what’s on your mind. Leave a comment, if:
You are a vegan and would like to tell the world about a great vegan product or service that you use.
Can’t quite find what you need? Tell businesses why you don’t purchase their products or use their services and let them know what they can do to add you as a customer. What needs to be changed? Be specific – and be polite. I don’t want to bash Big Business, I want to initiate change.