Asda is the first UK supermarket to unveil a vegan-only shopping aisle. Is this a good thing for veganism or will it exclude those interested in making the change?
A vegan-only aisle in one of the UK’s largest supermarkets sounds like a vegan dreamworld.
Thanks to Asda, this is now a reality in 359 of its stores. A huge surge in people buying vegan food in the last year has led them to introduce an ‘ambient vegan food aisle’ where people can shop for plant-based food products.
For many vegans, this will be a huge win. No longer will we have to search amongst animal products to find our plant-based sausages or spend ages making sure the new ready meal is definitely vegan.
While it might be great for existing vegans, what about those who are veg-curious? Or better yet, veg-sceptics? How will this new vegan aisle impact those who are thinking of taking the first steps towards veganism, but aren't quite ready to take the plunge?
When I think back to my earliest tip-toes towards veganism, my memory is coloured by a distinct reluctance to actually be ‘a vegan’. Maybe it was the fear of changing my ‘normal’, or knowing I was making a commitment, but I definitely felt a sense of rebellion against the vegan path.
If I would’ve had to go down an exclusive aisle, as if I was part of the ‘vegan club’, I would maybe never have continued down the vegan road, because I’d have felt like a phony.
Today, shoppers can find vegan alternatives right next to their existing favourite foods and brands. The power of people deciding just to ‘give it a go’ should be celebrated.
A study by the Plant Based Foods Association found plant-based meat sales increased by 23 per cent when sold in the meat aisles. This could be 23 per cent more people eating vegan than if they’d had to go down a dedicated aisle to buy it.
That being said, for many people at the beginning of their vegan journey, being able to avoid the temptation of former favourites within reach could empower them to create lasting habits and leave their meat-eating days behind them.
In this way, Asda’s new initiative could help not only vegan veterans but also those still in kale-loving kindergarten that need that extra push.
Everyone has their own unique journey to veganism and will need different things to help them on their path. Some people need hard facts and absolutism, others need gentle encouragement and space to grow.
Because of this, it’s hard to say whether Asda’s vegan-only aisle is good for veganism. On the one hand, it might mean only those who would seek out the products will buy them. On the other, it might help people see the amazing variety veganism has to offer in one place.
In an ideal world, there would be both a vegan aisle, and some vegan alternatives offered on the meat aisles. This would allow everyone to get their fair share of vegan options and maybe even kickstart more transitions towards cruelty-free living!
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