We Banned The Term ‘Plant-based’ from Our Marketing
Plant-based: eating solely or mainly plant foods, often as part of a healthier lifestyle
Vegan: eating solely plant foods to end the exploitation of animals in farms
There is a very welcome – and apparently unstoppable – surge in the growth of vegan foods. And with that comes a range of ideas and marketing tactics, and a lot of different conversations. Most food companies use the term ‘plant-based’. It’s gentler, perhaps, and plays to the many important health aspects of eating animal-free foods. This is a good thing. But it is not our thing.
VFC is an activist brand whose mission is to end all animal agriculture, and the way we do that is two-pronged: we educate by showing people the many problems caused by animal agriculture, and we provide a solution, in the form of tasty chicken-free chick*n. We don’t associate ourselves with the health movement. After all, the F in VFC stands for ‘fried’. Tasty, it is. Healthy? Not so much. But then, we should be clear, nor is fried chicken that comes from animals.
But our stance on the language we use goes way beyond the health aspects of our product. We want to use our food as a starting point for a bigger conversation about the rights of animals, the health of our planet and how our food choices impact these.
Vegan and Proud
To us, ‘vegan’ suggests something more outward-looking, a recognition of the responsibility we have to the wider world, and to the animals who live on this planet with us. Factory farming is unconscionable. It reduces animals who are individuals with personalities, preferences, needs and desires, to mere commodities. Chickens in farms are not given individual care. They are not treated if they get sick. If they live to six weeks, they are slaughtered. If they don’t, they don’t. The deaths of millions of young birds are expected and already factored in to the business model.
When we eat meat, it’s not only the farmed animals themselves who suffer but wild animals, too. Animal agriculture is undeniably linked to deforestation, pollution and climate change – all of which are having a serious impact on wild populations. They are being driven from their ever-dwindling habitats and are dying out at an alarming rate: 70% gone in just the last 50 years.
We don’t think this is what people want. But we also don’t think they know.
The Difficult Questions
And so, we want that conversation. We want to show people these serious impacts and to empower them to know they can be part of the change. Through human history, many immoral practices have already been abandoned, and that progress was only made because a light was shone on them and individuals felt empowered to speak up and take action. We’re not asking people to throw themselves in front of the King’s horse, or abseil off the Shard with a banner. We’re asking them to do something a lot more difficult: to take time to understand the impacts of their food choices, and to ask themselves some challenging questions: If I hate factory farming, why do I support it? If I want to be part of the climate solution, how can I do more? If deforestation and species loss sadden me, are my choices contributing to it?
And The Tasty Answers
The biggest barrier to change is that people think they hold no power, and that nothing they do will have an impact. They are wrong. We can all make a change to animals and the planet simply by changing what we eat. And, because we’re not dreary lecturing buzzkills, we have done all that we can to help people transition away from meat. We’re making VFC as tasty and accessible as possible, and we aim to keep on growing and keep on sparing birds.
VFC is not like other companies. We don’t have shareholders clamoring for dividends. Success for us is not measured in profits, but in lives saved, and the word ‘vegan’ accurately reflects that promise we made to do all we can to rid the world of factory farms and spare the lives of birds.
This is no greenwashing. Our Chickens Spared counter lives on the homepage of our website and we work every day to see it click up and up. We don’t make food to cash in on the vegan pound. We make vegan food to save animals.
Taking The Power Back
Those who oppose us have sought to demonize the word ‘vegan’ and to associate it with something darker. We firmly believe that we shouldn’t let them. The vegan movement is peaceful and powerful, and we should stand proud of how far this small band of game-changers has come in the last decade. You’ll find the word in every UK supermarket, on every high street, pasted on billboards and printed on product labels. It’s on TV ads and in magazines, and Google searches for it have skyrocketed.
We’d encourage others around the world to reclaim the V-word and be proud of it. So, those who profit from animal suffering talk about ‘angry vegans’. So what? It is OK to be angry. In fact, that is the proper response to animal agriculture destroying our planet, heating up the climate, polluting the waterways, wiping out habitats and biodiversity, and killing billions of animals. If you are not angry, as they say, you are not paying attention.