Consumers Aren’t Confused, You’re Just Upset That We Like It Better
I’ve been thinking about stuff like this all week. People complaining about how labeling vegan products as “milk” or “sausage” or “meat” etc. is somehow deceptive and confusing for consumers.
Meanwhile I’ve never seen someone buy peanut butter when they meant to buy dairy butter. I’ve never seen someone buy a can of coconut milk when they meant to buy dairy milk. I’ve never seen someone confuse the flesh of a young coconut for animal flesh. These are foods that have existed, and have kept the same name, for years and yet have not rustled anyone to the point of writing poorly-penned NPR articles about it or posting passive aggressive tweets about plants being “naughty”.
Using words typically associated with animal products to describe plant-based products IS NOT a new thing. People are only butthurt about it now because these popular non-animal based products are a challenge to the profit they build off of exploitation. Pay attention to who produces the most content about these products being “deceptive”, because almost 100% of the time they’re also the ones making the most money off of using animals.
Farmers, sponsored nutritionists and politicians make a lot of wild claims about how these foods “confuse” people. The article on “can you legally call it milk” even cites one sponsored nutritionist who claims people are confused because they think it means anything labeled “milk” has the exact same nutrients.
But let’s make it clear:
1. consumers can read the label on the side of the carton.
2. There are more reasons people purchase plant milks than just nutritional values (like cooking and convenience). The majority of people who buy dairy milk don’t do it because they “know they need their calcium”, but because it’s just a part of their everyday lives. My mom doesn’t put milk in her tea because of health concerns - she does it because that’s how she likes her tea. We might justify our eating habits by listing its nutritional value, but the majority of consumers do not eat for optimal health - they eat around a lifestyle that they and their culture has cultivated.
3. Ever hear someone mention drinking dairy for vitamin A or vitamin D? That’s fortified, just like it is in plant milks, making the “but it doesn’t have the same nutrients” point essentially ignorant. Dairy milk, unfortified, really doesn’t have the benefits so many marketing companies boast about. What they do boast about are the fortified nutrients, and so often just omit the fact that it’s added in during processing.
4. Plant milks are not devoid of nutritional value - like I just said, many ARE fortified, just like dairy milk is, but beyond that the ingredients chosen also have their own nutritional value. Almonds, oats, peas, cashews, soy. These are foods with nutritional benefits. The myth that plant milks lack the same essential nutrients, like calcium, or any nutritional value at all, is really just that. A myth.
And can you really convince me that people are buying sausages out of health concerns? And that meat-free alternatives aren’t healthy, if not healthier?
We get it. You’re upset that our culture is changing and progressing. But throwing a tantrum about plant-based milks, meats, condiments, or anything else is not earning you support. Your arguments are transparent and consumers are not as confused as you’d like to believe.