Written by Crystal Kozlak, Edited by Marji Beach (Education Director at Animal Place)
With an overwhelming request for a dairy-free option, Ben & Jerry’s recently released four new vegan flavors. However, are Ben & Jerry’s vegan flavors “vegan” enough? In comparison to entirely vegan ice cream companies So Delicious, Tofutti, and Coconut Bliss, Ben & Jerry’s does not meet the same ethical standards. They foster animal cruelty by primarily selling dairy ice cream which uses animal products and are owned by a larger corporation, Unilever, known for its use of animal testing (and for suing plant-based companies like Hampton Creek). So what reasons do us vegans have to celebrate Ben & Jerry’s expansion to vegan flavors? Well, I believe when non-vegan companies expand to vegan products, veganism expands as a whole.
Vegan Options Benefit Everyone
Offering more animal-friendly options provide vegan consumers with a more accessible lifestyle and entices those who are not vegan to explore these products. When established companies market plant-based options, potential vegan consumers have an opportunity to transition into a vegan diet while being able to enjoy their favorite types of food. Similarly, consumers who have allergies to animal-based ingredients can freely enjoy products like vegan Chunky Monkey! Non-vegan consumers may choose non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s products simply because they adore the non-vegan version. Vegan options positively impact most consumers and this is rewarding because when we have more consumers purchasing vegan products, it benefits the animals and the planet. It is fantastic that Ben & Jerry’s started contributing to the expansion of veganism by creating some vegan flavors that we can all enjoy.
Rising Growth of a Vegan Economy
Vegan products are becoming more available and as non-vegan companies begin to expand, it’s hopeful that ultimately we’ll have a vegan economy. Unfortunately, the process will be slow because successful non-vegan companies will continue to sell animal products when there remains a demand for them. Therefore, we cannot expect Ben & Jerry’s to transition to a completely vegan company overnight, but it’s better they have some vegan flavors as opposed to none at all. It is important to create a demand and advocate for vegan products in its place. As a result, non-vegan companies will eventually transition to completely vegan ones.
Supporting completely vegan companies creates a demand for more ethical values and should be encouraged, rightfully so. However, we should avoid discouraging non-vegan companies from expanding to vegan products especially when we would like to see more vegan products in our grocery stores. Instead, let’s focus on celebrating the fact that Ben & Jerry’s—and companies alike—are taking small steps towards veganism. It is the least we can do in order promote peace on our planet. Let’s cheer for one vegan pint at a time!