By Ghanim al-Sulaiti
In what is officially the ‘Year of the Vegan’. I am sorry. I am sorry for the restaurants and cafés, the food outlets and snack joints who think that, in order to profit from one of the fastest growing dietary trends in history (switching to plant-based foods), they will resort to falsehoods and fiction. To ‘fake news’ and misleading claims. Vegan means vegan, and in our world we have always been very clear about the definition of exactly what makes a food dish ‘vegan’. Unlike the varied traits of a vegetarian, which typically means meatless, Vegan is very clear: no animal ingredients at all, including milk or eggs.
However, despite the well-known facts of what a vegan diet consist of, I continue to witness how the public are marketed — or worse — sold a ‘vegan’ product with animal ingredients. As recently as this week, an upcoming Doha startup branded a seafood dish ‘vegan’ — which is not only misleading and inaccurate, but does more to complicate and tarnish the progress genuine vegan diets are making around the globe.
On one side, it’s promising that restaurants want to be part of the growing trend of Vegansim. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t? Being Vegan cuts your carbon footprint in half, helps you to live longer, saves water each day, and means improves health. But lying about ingredients isn’t going to achieve anything. Instead, we should be striving for more clarity about what every single meal consists of — more than ever before.
For a long time, the food industry has often concealed the unhealthy products in its foods – even manipulating science to fool consumers. But the beauty of a vegan diet is the truly ‘genuine’ nature to eating plant-based — and so the last thing we should be accepting of are companies claiming to create vegan food…(especially when they’re paying for Instagram adverts showing #Vegan but on a photo of shrimp).
Consumers’ choice is not always respected when it is being manipulated by an industry that is intent on selling as much as possible — and for this, I continue to regret witnessing how the natural benefits of Vegansim are sometimes side-lined in order to ensure that the ‘bare minimum’ is on display — with, or without mistakes.
And so I urge all restaurants, cafes and food places that if you’re committed to catering for Vegans, it’s time to ensure education surrounding exactly what a Vegan diet consists of nothing but the truth. Veganism is amazing, has made me who I am today — and I’m not stopping there.
* The author is an expert in vegan wellbeing and health. Instagram handle: @Ghanim92
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