Why We Work with Big Business and the Meat, Egg and Dairy Industry
August 30, 2021
ProVeg South Africa is the South African chapter of ProVeg International, a global food awareness NGO working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal products with plant-based and cultivated alternatives.
Big business creates big change
Our vision is a world where everyone chooses delicious and healthy food that is good for all humans, animals, and our planet. This vision is something we are very passionate about, but we know this is a huge undertaking that we cannot achieve by ourselves. In order to create significant change in the food system we work with international decision-making bodies, governments, NGOs, food producers, retailers, investors, the media, the general public, and a range of other stakeholders.
One of our guiding principles is to “Influence the Influencer”, and as our focus is on transforming the food system, it is vital that we work with those people and organisations that are most able (and open to) influencing the food industry in line with our mission.
While there are many such stakeholders, such as the Government and Media that have significant influence over the food industry, we cannot simply look at influence, we also need to look at which of these stakeholders are likely to actively partner with us and adopt policies or undertake projects that will advance our cause.
After assessing the influence of each stakeholder group, and the likelihood that they would be willing to partner with us, or simply adopt changes that we advocate for, we believe that it is vital that we work with some of the largest multinational food producers, including companies in the meat, egg, and dairy industries. These companies have an immense influence on the global and local food system, and they are generally open to working on healthier, more sustainable and ethical food choices.
Although we recognize that many of these organisations produce products that are not plant-based, and many have other issues that make them far from perfect, our focus is on creating change and moving towards a better world – not judging people or companies or expecting perfect products. We love working with progressive plant-based and vegan companies, and we will never stop working with them. We simply acknowledge the fact that we will achieve our vision significantly faster if we also work with the companies that we believe can improve and become an ally in the movement towards more plant-based diets.
There is a lot of nuance in this discussion, and covering all facets in one blog post would be difficult. Luckily a lot has already been written on the topic. Please see below some of the related topics with links to resources.
Working with the meat, egg and dairy industry
- Veganuary: Unilever, McDonalds & KFC are not the Enemy
- Seven Possible Responses of Meat and Dairy Companies to Vegan Growth
- Vegans Support McDonalds Vegan Burger
- Vegans Shouldn’t Boycott Daiya Cheese
- Beyond Meat and Tyson: Sleeping with the Enemy?
Those people and organisations working in animal agriculture are often labelled as the ‘enemy’ of the plant-based and vegan movements. The reality is that these people and organizations are not enemies – they are a stakeholder group that can be worked with to help create change.
Big Business and Meat, Egg or Dairy companies positively influence the food system
- South African Meat Producer Joins the Plant-based Movement
- RCL in joint venture to scale plant-based food market in Africa
- Nestlé To Invest US$3.5B In 5-Year Climate Plan Powered By Regenerative Agriculture & Plant-Based Innovation
- Nestlé Commits To Global Plant-Based Innovation As Vegan Food Becomes Mainstream
- Unilever Sets €1 Billion Plant-Based Meat & Dairy Alternatives Annual Sales Target
- Oatly: Change isn’t Easy
ProVeg’s collaborations with food companies focus on creating more products and exposure to plant-based food and vegan lifestyles. When we work with non-plant-based companies we are directing money that would otherwise be used to develop and promote non-vegan products and using it to promote vegan options.
In the word of The Green Queen:
“A number of big FMCG names have already debuted their own plant-based offerings or partnered up with vegan food techs, from Burger King launching an Impossible Burger to McDonald’s Canada piloting Beyond Meat. Most recently, Taco Bell in China showcased an Omnipork taco, and Taiwan’s largest quick-service restaurant chain (QSR) Bafang Yunji is dishing out 1 million Omnipork dumplings every week.
With mainstream vendors on board, vegan food will no longer remain a niché in restaurant chains or supermarket aisles. Plant-based food is on the trajectory towards accessibility and affordability, which will ultimately drive much needed change among mass audiences, especially given that consumers remain swayed by price rather than moral persuasion. It will also help assist the growing numbers of shoppers who want to prioritise sustainable living, but have been deterred by costs.
Ultimately, particularly as corporations are cashing in on the market opportunity, plant-based is poised to become cheaper and widely available, which will help alleviate our impact on the planet and drive the much-needed shift towards a sustainable food system.”
Working with fast-food outlets and manufacturers of highly processed food
Food companies – manufacturers, retailers, restaurants – sell what the public wants, and they also have a huge influence on the public. If the public stops buying meat, the food industry will stop supplying it. If the food industry makes it easier/cheaper/more appealing to buy an alternative, then more people will choose the alternative.
A multi-faceted approach
ProVeg has programmes that encourage and educate the public, like our Veggie Challenge which over 40 000 South Africans have signed up for, and Veganuary, for which we are the official local NGO partner. We also work with food companies to encourage and assist them to increase their plant-based offerings and reduce their reliance on animal products. We are also working on improving the labelling of vegan products through the V-Label certification for which we are the licence holders in South Africa.
We are passionate about working with all stakeholders in the plant-based food sector and the vegan movement, and we would love to hear from you if you would like to work with us.
Director, Donovan Will, [email protected]
Corporate Engagement & V-Label Coordinator, Anusha Lakha, [email protected]