Where are the vegan labels? Oh, here one is, in the corner of the tofu package – a tiny “v.”
My husband was like a little kid, waiting impatiently for the new
County Market store to open. He drove out of his way to check on its
progress for three months, hoping to find it open. On the day of the
grand opening, he and I were part of the crowd entering the store, and
we were not disappointed! The vast produce section with its high ceiling
and balcony restaurant made us feel like we were in a bustling
Hubby and I checked out all the sales, and I thought I would look for
some vegan food items. Disappointingly, what I did NOT find is what I
do not find in all grocery stores: vegan signs! I am not singling out
County Market nor am I blaming any other store, because the problem does
not start with the grocery stores. To understand what most vegans
encounter when shopping, I will describe the typical store. There will
be a couple of “okay” substitute meats, some tofu, and the vegetarian
(not vegan) cheese called “Go Veggie!” (It fools many people due to its
name and the words “Lactose free” on the front, but it contains Casein,
cheese culture, milk and cream.) The truly vegan items either have no
labeling, or have that very small “v” somewhere on the package. IF there
is a “vegetarian/vegan” frozen food section, it is packed with
vegetarian options and from zero to a smidgen of vegan ones.
A few years ago, I took a “Most Wanted Vegan Items” list to all the
grocery stores in this area and talked with the produce managers. I
mentioned that the list was compiled by 127 vegans and vegetarians who
emailed me their desired items. The produce managers were all gracious
and said they would do what they could to order the items in, but to
this day I do not see the “double-starred” most wanted items from the
list in their stores.
Our vegan movement has not gotten off the ground like it should,
which makes little sense since it is a scientifically backed diet that
can reverse heart disease, and is environmentally and morally sound. But
instead of a vegan label, what I see on packaging throughout the store
is “Gluten-free.” All over the County Market store I saw tags
advertising gluten-free products, because it is popular and is a
marketer’s dream. If “Gluten-free” is on signs then it is possible to
have “Vegan” signs in stores, too!
Gluten-free signs are wonderful for the 1% of the people who have Celiac
disease, and the “Organic” signs are certainly helpful! Vegan signs
should be right up there with them.
So why did gluten-free catch on so quickly? Four years ago, “gluten
intolerant” was not known to the public; now the aisles are loaded with
gluten-free labels. If gluten-free can become popular so quickly, with
people seemingly proud to have a digestive issue, then it should be
possible to make veganism an “overnight sensation” too, since it
actually helps the planet! Unfortunately, the word “vegan” is seen in a
negative light, with vegans hesitant to use the term and almost fearful
of the reaction. The perception of a vegan has been vilified and must
change! Somehow, we must make vegan products “cool” and “needed.”
Vegan foods should have large V’s on the front of packaging for easy
identification, or have the entire word “Vegan” spelled out. Every
company should be hankering to brand the package with the word “Vegan.”
There are many foods in the stores that could wear the vegan label, such
as several Italian and French salad dressings, tortillas, cereals, cake
mixes, pudding mixes, candies, crackers, cookies, pie crusts, and
breads. The produce section is one huge vegan smorgasbord!
Most people give up starches when they diet, even though the results
are not as effective as a low-fat vegan diet (with plenty of starches).
The gluten-free dieters have shown that they can give up wheat, barley
and rye when they think their systems cannot tolerate gluten, even
though studies have not proven “gluten-intolerance” exists (except for
those with Celiac disease).
When it comes to foods people cannot tolerate, hopefully, more people
will soon decide their conscience can no longer tolerate mass animal
torture, and will give up meat and dairy. With more dedicated vegans we
can create a demand for well-labeled vegan products, and being vegan
will be a symbol of pride!