Small vegan businesses are left in the shadow of large companies bringing out new vegan products.
We are only one week into Veganuary and we have seen more vegan products being released than ever before. While veganism has been around for decades, it’s only recently that it has had rocket-type propulsion.
These are genuinely exciting times for vegans as we have always hoped to be able to walk into a supermarket or chain restaurant and have so many options to choose from.
Quite frankly, the more vegan foods that are being brought out by large companies the better. It normalises the vegan movement and doesn’t make us look like a load of extremists.
However, whilst there are lots of new vegan businesses starting up, there are also many shutting down as they struggle to keep afloat.
We have to remember that small vegan business owners were the ones who saw us through the dark ages. They are the shopkeepers who started stocking a range of vegan cheeses & nutritional yeast when the supermarkets didn’t; the bakeries that took the plunge and went 100% vegan despite it being a risky business move; and the cafes that refused to serve a fried egg sandwich because it was ethically & morally wrong.
“I worry for those of us who have put our heart & souls into building a business with the right values. We aren’t just shopkeepers, but educators and activists also.”Paula Lawes owner of Paula’s Vegan Bakery, Gosport
With Christmas just over, people might be feeling the financial pinch. Choosing a Greggs’ sausage roll for a quid is obviously more of an economical choice than choosing the vegan baker who is selling one for £2. But there are many reasons why we should continue to help our local indie vegan businesses.
5 Things to Consider
1. Spread your money between big companies, small companies and micro businesses. Of course you will buy & try a new vegan sausage roll for a quid, but don’t forget your local vegan baker. It might cost more money, and you can’t afford to do it as often, but indies need to make a profit too.
2. Small vegan businesses have animals and the planet at heart, which is something worth supporting. It’s not cheap buying specialist vegan ingredients, especially compared to readily available ingredients that contain animal bi-products. But the point is keeping things cruetly-free, right? This is also the case with small businesses who are trying to cut down their plastic waste. It costs significantly more for compostable packaging. We need to remember the cost of production at an indie business can be a lot higher, but at least it doesn’t cost the planet.
3. The quality seems to be better when made by hand. We aren’t saying that this is true in all cases, but quite often you get what you pay for. A great example of this is when you order from a fast food establishment, compared to a hearty meal from a vegan cafe or restaurant – there is just no comparison in quality.
4. Show your support to all things vegan. Of course this means going into Sainsbury’s and trying their vegan products, followed by posting it on Instagram with your happy review. But don’t forget to do the same thing with your local vegan cafe, shop & food producer also – they rely on us to get the word out for them.
5. Vegans are still a minority in the UK, so small businesses are taking a huge financial risk in doing what they are doing. We have seen so many times people walk into a vegan cafe and ask for a bacon sandwich or a milk tea, only to walk straight back out again at the mention of mixing oat milk into their builders brew. The truth is that most vegans would rather go out of business than serve animal products, and that truth is worth supporting.