Should you support vegan brands owned by non-vegan companies? Read this article, then decide!
By Lora O’Brien
I think I speak for many when I say that being vegan means that you care deeply about the welfare of animals. You avoid the harm and exploitation of animals and seek brands whose values align with this. And thanks to veganism becoming increasingly more popular, we’re no longer in short supply of vegan-friendly brands to support.
Our food choices extend beyond hummus and falafel, and vegan-friendly fashion has never been so stylish. But there are still a few debates within the vegan community that we need to sort out. For example? Should you eat vegan options at fast food restaurants that specialise in meat? Are synthetic, lab-grown ‘meats’ a good thing, or are they further normalising meat eating, as well as slowly killing humanity with their weird ingredients?
And finally, should you support vegan brands that are owned by a non-vegan parent company? Let’s look at both sides.
Reasons To Say NO To Vegan Brands Owned By Non-Vegan Companies
You’re potentially funding animal testing: As a vegan, it’s paramount that you in no way contribute to the suffering of animals. But are you indirectly funding exactly that? Kind of. If you’re buying a vegan product that is owned by a non-vegan parent company that tests on animals, you’re indirectly funding them.
Start funding independent vegan brands: I get it. A celebrity brings out a vegan range, and it’s like a real hurrah moment that the vegan movement is spreading. But when you shop with smaller, independent companies, you’re not only supporting a vegan brand, but you know your money is being pulled from huge, unethical companies and is spent in a more conscious way,
Vote for a better world with your money: When you choose to fund these bigger brands who have unethical owners, you’re lining the pockets of brands such as L’Oreal, who continue to test on animals and spend loads of money doing so.
Vegan brands owned by non-vegan brands are sell-outs: It’s hard to understand how brands start out so passionate about veganism and then sell their brand to a non-vegan company. More so when these brands test on animals and have dealings with the meat and dairy industry.
Be the change you want to see: How we spend our money speaks volumes to companies. If we buy vegan products from unethical, non-vegan parent companies, this sends a message that we don’t care what their larger policies are, so long as they throw us that vegan crumb.
Reasons To Support Vegan Brands Owned By Non-Vegan Companies
Their products are still vegan: This could be the most valid argument for continuing to support vegan brands owned by non-vegan brands. So long as the products they make are Leaping Bunny and/or Vegan Society certified, they’re still vegan and cruelty-free.
Buying their vegan products creates a demand: When we think of how far veganism has come, it’s almost hard to imagine the world a few years back when it was challenging to find vegan products. You could argue that these brands are still catering to the vegan market, and by supporting them you’re increasing the demand for vegan products.
Instil change from within? It could also be argued that vegan brands have the platform to really instil a change from the inside. They’re in a place to people convert the larger business to become more ethical. But frankly, why would a larger, more profitable business listen to a smaller brand they literally own?
Ok, so what’s the bottom line? Should you support vegan brands owned by non-vegan companies? Read on, and let us know what you think in the comments!
Main image: Fenty beauty
Some Vegan Brands Owned By Non-Vegan Companies
1. KVD Vegan Beauty
When Kat Von D launched her line of vegan beauty products, she quickly amassed a loyal following. The edgy tattoo artist offered a range of makeup that was both vegan and cruelty-free. But she has since sold her brand and has nothing to do with it in any capacity.
Rebranded as KVD Beauty, it’s still cruelty-free and vegan, with no ingredients, formulations or finished products tested on animals. KVD Vegan Beauty is now operated by KENDO, who’ve stated that its makeup will always be made with love, not animals. But the cause for concern is that Kendo is a subsidiary of the LVMH corporation. Which is far from vegan!
Whether it’s directly or through third parties, LVMH tests on animals and uses loads of animal-derived ingredients – namely leathers of all kinds, as well as feathers. In fact, there was huge controversy not long ago when it was revealed they were skinning crocodiles alive for their skins!
Since Kendo helped Kat Von D build her empire, they seem dedicated to continuing the spirit of the brand, dedicated to creating vegan make-up. Also, KVD Beauty has confirmed they do not test their products or ingredients on animals or ask others to test on their behalf. They also don’t allow their products to be sold in mainland China or any other country that requires animal testing by law. So….this one still may be ok.
2. Schmidt’s Naturals
Our second of the vegan brands owned by non-vegan companies is Schmidt’s Naturals. They make personal care products that are both vegan and cruelty-free. The brand itself is committed to manufacturing products without harming any animals, and they don’t purchase ingredients from suppliers who test their products on animals.
But the fact the brand is owned by Unilever raises a lot of questions.
Unilever is a giant British-Dutch multinational brand that has amassed a huge selection of brands in many different industries. Lately, they’ve been hoarding many smaller, cruelty-free brands to their collection. Profiting from the growing demand for cruelty-free beauty, it feels contradictory that the brand is far from ethical, to say the least!
Unilever claims to be changing their ways, though. The company says:
We’re committed to using what we’ve learnt in this space – along with our reach and scale – to help lead efforts towards regulatory change in how chemicals and products are assessed for their safety and to bring about an end to animal testing. We partner with more than 50 leading research teams globally to develop and apply our industry-leading non-animal product safety assessment capability and we collaborate with peers, NGOs and governments to share our research.
One example is our work with the Chinese and UK governments on non-animal approaches for cosmetics safety, and we look forward to seeing regulatory shifts in China from January 2021. These will mean ‘ordinary’ cosmetics, including shampoo, face and skin cleansers, and body washes, no longer have to be tested on animals in Chinese government laboratories.
Ok fine. ‘Ordinary’ cosmetics won’t be tested on animals. But what about the others?
Schmidt’s Naturals is a brand that has remained cruelty-free even after being acquired by Unilever, so we have to give them credit for that. But it still sucks that profits from the brand still go to line the pockets of Unilever. At least they’re aware of the evil of their ways, and we hope continuing pressure will force them to go 100% cruelty free and vegan
Though many find it easy to ditch meat, one thing they struggle to shake off is dairy! It seems the addiction to cheese is heavily ingrained, and it’s been tough to find a decent vegan cheese that makes the transition easier. This is why Daiya was a welcomed revelation to the vegan community. Finally, a cheese that not only tasted good but actually melted like real cheese, too!
So it left a sour taste in the mouth of many when Daiya was acquired by Japanese firm Otsuka. After it was revealed that Otsuka tests on animals, the rise of consumers vowing to boycott the brand grew. Daiya defended its move, explaining that it would enable the brand to become a ‘global leader,’ giving it access to a bigger market. But still, many labelled the brand a (literal) sellout!
A petition was launched urging Daiya to not go ahead with the deal, with campaigners arguing that rejecting animal testing was far more important than cashing in on the market for plant-based foods. More so since the brand buying Daiya cared less about catering to the vegan market than it did making money.
There are lots of people who still steer clear of Daiya. But there might be some valid reasons for sticking with the brand. For example? Daiya will remain as an independently operated company under Otsuka, with the CEO, management and team members staying the same, as well as their headquarters and manufacturing in Vancouver.
Aveda is another of our vegan brands owned by non-vegan companies. Sure, it’s a brand that offers natural, eco-friendly products. But some may question the ethical credentials of this brand and whether or not it’s cruelty-free because it’s owned by Estee Lauder.
Aveda makes bold statements on their website that back up their promises to be vegan and ethical. They state that they do not test on animals, nor do they ask people to do so on their behalf. Their suppliers never test on animals, nor does Aveda allow their products to be tested on animals when required by law.
The fact that Aveda products are not sold in mainland China, or any other country that requires animal testing, is a testament to their commitment to care for animals. All of their products are vegan and contain no animal-derived ingredients or by-products. And previous products that used beeswax and honey have been replaced with vegan alternatives.
So all good for the animals. But if you’re also concerned about ethics and human rights, you should know that Estee Lauder is a strong supporter of the IDF, or Israeli Defence Forces. Yep, that’s right – they fund those same people bombing the hell out of Palestinians. Not only that, but the company is behind the Pink Ribbon scam. If you don’t know about that, see more info here.
It comes down to personal choice whether or not to support Aveda. Some wouldn’t support a brand whose parent company is pretty damn nasty. But at least Aveva themselves don’t sell in mainland China, where animal testing is required.
Oatly was a revelation for the vegan movement. Finally! A milk that’s delicious in everything, from cereal and smoothies to coffee! But it seems the dairy-free alternative faced backlash in 2020, with many calling for the brand to be boycotted.
This came after the brand took in a hefty $200 million investment from the private equity firm Blackstone. In case you didn’t know, Blackstone is nasty as all heck. They cashed in big time after the financial crisis of 2007–2008. They abused tenants with exorbitant fees, rent hikes, and aggressive eviction practices. These had a disproportionate impact on communities of colour, as the company targeted foreclosures resulting from subprime loans.
Blackstone has also been accused of facilitating Amazon deforestation again through its share in Hidrovias do Brasil. It has been revealed that Hidrovias is enabling the export of illegal timber through its shipping terminals. They’re also cutting huge highways through the rain forest, and badly violating Indigenous rights.
Since Blackstone is literally one of the most evil companies on Earth, why the heck would you want to put one penny more in their pockets? We insist that not only vegans but all caring humans should boycott anything owned by this highly unethical company.
6. Mrs. Meyer’s
Ditching toxic products, more people are looking to find natural brands to use in their home, and one brand many love is Mrs. Meyer’s.
The Mrs. Meyer’s brand is Leaping Bunny certified, and is both vegan and cruelty-free. The cleaning brand offers a range of cleaning products that range from household cleaners, dishwashing, laundry and air fresheners. All products are free from ammonia, chlorine, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, artificial colourants, phosphates or petroleum distillates.
But while the brand has been celebrated for being an eco-friendly option for many households, it was acquired by SC Johnson back in 2008. Though little changed to the Mrs. Meyer’s brand, there was still cause for concern due to the fact SC Johnson doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to animal cruelty.
Whether they test directly, through suppliers or through a third party, SC Johnson has yet to put an end to animal testing. The company might offer some vegan products, including other eco-cleaning brands like Method and Ecover, but they’re simply cashing in on the growing demand for toxic-free solutions.
SC Johnson isn’t a brand I like to fund, whether directly or through brands they’re the parent company of. They may not have tested Meyer’s on animals, but they DO test loads of other products on animals. Plus, let’s not forget the fact that their baby powder knowingly causes cancer – and they said nothing until the lawsuits started pouring in!
If you want truly vegan, eco-friendly cleaners from a truly ethical, family- owned company, go with Dr Bronner’s.
7. Fenty Skin
Following on from the success of Fenty Beauty and Fenty Lingerie, Fenty Skin was launched in 2020 by singer, designer and businesswoman Rihanna. Fenty Skin houses a small collection of skincare products, including an SPF moisturiser, toning serum and makeup removing cleanser..
The brand itself is 100% vegan, with all products made with vegan-friendly formulas. Not to mention the fully recyclable packaging. This was chosen in a bid to be kinder to the animals and the environment. Of course, it’s also cruelty-free, too. Fenty does not test on animals, or does it ask people to do so on their behalf.
But the controversy is that Fenty’s parent company, LVMH, loves killing animals for fashion. And it seems Rihanna loves wearing that fashion, too! She’s been seen in everything from fur coats and leather pants to crocodile skin! This goes against everything Fenty Skin seems to stand for. Which makes us think the celebrity is simply cashing in on the vegan trend, rather than truly caring about vegan values.
Above, we said that that we’d still buy KVD. And part of the reason for that is because she’s a passionate vegan herself. Rihanna, not so much. And her parent company sucks!
Do you know of any other vegan brands owned by non-vegan companies? Let us know in the comments below!