Vegan for profit

Glauce Fleury

In some cities, it’s easier to be vegan. It’s the case of Vancouver, B.C., where I live. We have few vegan restaurants, but the number has grown each year. Besides, in most non-vegan restaurants, they accommodate dietary restrictions.

Thanks, Vancouver.

Last year, a colleague recommended a dessert place:

“They veganize almost anything,” he said.

As I’m crazy about chocolates, it didn’t take me long to visit that spot. It was winter, so I ordered a hot chocolate — no traces of animal products. I had a really good time.

Since then, I’ve followed them on social media, and have seen their creativity to adapt recipes to vegans. I did appreciate their thoughtfulness to welcome customers like me. Until now.

Scrolling down their Instagram account, I saw a picture that caused me a mix of disgust and disbelief. It was the head of a lamb about to be cooked.

The caption said that it was an Ottoman street food from Asia. Some of the hashtags were #healthyfood and #healthyeating. For that lamb, it wasn’t healthy for sure.

I was shocked for several reasons, but mainly because:

  • the business targets also vegans, but published a gross photo of an animal decapitated. (Many of us go vegan because we’re done with farmed animals being tortured before slaughter).
  • the business serves desserts, not regular meals. (There was no reason to promote a lamb dish on their account).

I had to check if that was some sort of joke, so I asked them if that was a real lamb head. The answer was even more offensive:

“We don’t use any imitations…and he is definitely not my dog…I could invite you in next one if you want to experience it!”

Wait. I use my account with my blog’s address and describe myself as a vegan. Did they still give me this answer? It’s so rude and disrespectful. I responded by saying:

“It’s shocking to me that a place that has vegan options shares such a photo and makes a joke about lambs and dogs. I’m so disappointed about your business. It’s clear that you have vegan options only for business, not because you believe that animals can suffer.”

I shared what I’d seen with a vegan group on social media. The ones who saw my post were shocked, and some suggested us to negatively rate the business online as a way to protest against what they’d done.

But the group’s administrator deleted my post minutes later. When I asked why, I was told I’d disrespected a rule (to not post graphics showing violence against animals). Anyways…

In the sequence, the business replied to me: “although it is a bit late I can clearly see your point and you are absolutely right. It was a thoughtless post, please accept my sincere apologies to make you feel like this.”

Their posts related to the lamb head (before and after being cooked) were deleted, so there are some lessons learned here.

To vegans

  • Be vocals about what’s wrong in the food industry. Use your voices on social media to make yourselves heard.
  • Some businesses offer vegan options because they want your money, not because they believe in your cause. Support the ones who do both, but still remember that having non-vegan places selling vegan products is also a victory.

To businesses

  • Be mindful of what you post online, so you don’t bury your hard work in a hole only because you think something is super cool (when it’s not).
  • If you sell vegan products only to increase your profits, don’t pretend you care about the vegan cause. Your clientele will appreciate your honesty.

Photo credit: © Ingve Moss Liknes under Creative Commons via Flickr.

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