Organic goes vegan – and vice versa
In her latest column, sector expert Hanni Rützler describes the challenges facing vegan food manufacturers and the organic vegan movement in particular.
For vegans, the main criterion for the food they eat is not that it should be “organic” but “animal-free”. Their rationale is based not just on ethical principles but also concerns about climate protection, because they tend to associate all livestock, meat and dairy farming with animal suffering and greenhouse gas emissions. However, due to the “animal-free” imperative, a key aspect of organic agriculture, and biodynamic agriculture in particular, is coming under fire: the integrated farming of crops and livestock.
At the same time, some segments of the organic food industry still have reservations about plant-based food and vegan substitutes that often use additives to obtain a meat-like texture and juiciness, even if many organic food companies like the north German Zwergenwiese, or Biovegan in Rhineland-Palatinate, have also been producing and selling vegan products for a considerable time now.
It is therefore not surprising that only very few products receiving Peta’s annual “Vegan Food Award” also meet organic standards. Nevertheless, the organic vegan movement has gained momentum in recent years. The challenge, where additives are necessary, is to offer organically compliant alternatives and use formulations free of synthetic stabilisers.
However, more and more manufacturers are successfully meeting this challenge. One such example is Danish chef Frank Lantz, whose vegan brand “Uhhmami” offers organic, plant-based flavourings and broths that help turn traditional dishes into delicious, plant-based alternatives.
Things are also changing in the market for milk and cheese substitutes, which has long been dominated by conventional products. For example, Swiss company Soyana’s organic cream cheese and grilling cheese alternative made from 71% fermented cashew nut drink, or the almond-based Parmesan cheese substitute Mandorino from Italy. They also include oat milk from Gut.Bio or almond milk from Alnatura, to name just a few examples.
There is therefore an increasing trend for organic food to be vegan as well. And – if a recent report by US market research company DataHorizzon Research is to be believed – the opposite is also true: vegan is going organic. DataHorizzon Research assumes that the increasing demand for organic food will also be one of the driving forces in the vegan food market in the coming years.