This year we celebrate 30 years of The Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark! We introduced the trademark in 1990 and have been working tirelessly ever since, providing a trusted mark to help consumers easily spot vegan products. Each product labelled with the trademark has been checked by our experts to ensure it contains no animal ingredients and that it has not been tested on animals at the initiative of the company or on its behalf, or by parties over whom the company has effective control.
Where it began
While we’ve made great progress recently with ‘ethical veganism’ being ruled as a protected belief, there is still no legal definition of ‘vegan’ when it comes to product labelling. Products are therefore open to being mislabelled – either by companies misunderstanding the definition or wanting to gain access to a vegan audience without doing the groundwork. Prompted by this lack of clarity in labelling, we introduced the Vegan Trademark in 1990 – the world’s first vegan product labelling scheme of its kind. Every day the Vegan Trademark helps vegans to find items that don’t compromise their ethics.
It’s easier to instantly spot which ingredients in a food product are suitable for vegans, but this is not always the case with products like cosmetics, household cleaning products or the materials and treatments used in our clothing. The Vegan Trademark is crucial in giving consumers the comfort and assurance that we have covered all grounds and thoroughly checked ingredients and processes.
The Vegan Trademark also works collaboratively with companies that are ready to reformulate their products to meet our standards. We closely regulate the use of the trademark, and our registration process is arguably the most thorough in the world. Each raw material is carefully evaluated by the Vegan Trademark team and even the unlisted raw materials are scrutinised. We have seen some amazing changes made by manufacturers over the years to ensure their products are free from animal exploitation.
Why the sunflower?
Our internationally recognised sunflower trademark was hand-drawn and taken from The Vegan Society’s original charity logo. The Vegan Trademark has not changed since 1990 and is seen as a trusted mark by consumers the world over. It has seen us through the days when The Vegan Society delivered soya milk to vegans with limited access to the present day, where the high street and supermarket shelves are teeming with amazing and varied vegan products. For the past 30 years, the Vegan Trademark has communicated a simple message to vegan and vegan-curious consumers – this product is suitable for vegans!
Our impact today
Today the Vegan Trademark is a large source of funding for the charity, allowing us to do so much more and to reach a wider audience with our educational campaigns than we ever have previously.
With over 65,000 products registered globally, the Vegan Trademark has helped to catapult veganism into the mainstream. Talk of vegan ethics and culture-shifting vegan products have been on the lips of A-list celebrities, graced the front of newspapers and broken year-on-year online search records. This year, our official partner Veganuary signed up a record 400,000 people (compared with 250,000 in 2019), showing us that more people than ever are adopting a vegan lifestyle and choosing vegan products. The Vegan Trademark is proud to be a part of this incredible growth by making vegan products more visible than ever.
Where veganism was either rarely discussed or largely mocked and met with hostility and defensiveness, the conversation is starting to shift, and it is now getting the attention it deserves. From Joaquin Phoenix reminding us of the cruelty of the dairy industry in his Oscars speech to ITV’s This Morning featuring vegan cookery demonstrations and popular products that carry the Vegan Trademark, veganism has gone mainstream. This is compelling people to discuss, understand and consider it as a viable and kinder lifestyle choice – whether their motivation is animal welfare, sustainability, health or a combination.
Where we are headed
As more and more people adopt a vegan diet and lifestyle, vegan products are being developed at an unprecedented rate, with multinational and non-vegan brands investing huge amounts of money and technology into them. This is despite the continued challenges from the meat and dairy lobbies, which are observing a very real threat (milk consumption in the UK has fallen 50% since the 1950s) to their industries.
With the market share of vegan products growing, so is the number of registrations with the Vegan Trademark. At present, The Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark is, unsurprisingly, both the most recognised and most trusted vegan label within every dietary preference analysed in a recent survey by The Vegan Society. Consumers don’t just want the word ‘vegan’ on their packaging to signal a vegan product – they are increasingly demanding the authority and credibility behind our trademark.
How you can support the Vegan Trademark
Supporting companies that label their products correctly and praising their efforts is a great start. It’s worth supporting smaller businesses creating vegan products, as well as larger companies that include vegan options in their ranges. By buying these items, you are showing retailers that there is a demand for animal-free alternatives. This not only increases the number of products that they will offer, but labelling will improve as a natural result. Approaching companies and asking them to consider using the Vegan Trademark can ensure they label products correctly, allowing millions of consumers worldwide to shop with confidence and peace of mind.
You can also follow @vegantrademark on Instagram and Twitter and share your favourite Vegan Trademark registered products on social media using our anniversary hashtag: #30yearsofvegan.
By Vegan Society Digital Marketing Officer, Nishat Rahman
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.