Vegan Companies: Stop Betraying Your Customer Base!
Did you hear that McDonald’s added a vegan burger to their Norway locations?
Vegans rejoice! Times are-a-changin’!
Isn’t it awesome when non-vegan companies start adding animal-free options to their selection!? I would never eat McDonald’s, but it shows they even know which way the world is headed. (Whether the “carnists” like it or not.)
With this enthusiasm we feel as a vegan community, how are we supposed to feel when we’re “betrayed” by a vegan company?
Vegan Companies: Pick a Side Already!
First, let me explain what it means to feel “betrayed” by a vegan-friendly company.
For example, let’s talk about the nutrition company Garden of Life. Garden of Life has been around since 2000, pushing their plant-based supplements to thousands of health food stores. I was one of many who used their products religiously!
Their slogan reads:
“Our mission is to create the cleanest, highest quality whole-food products possible.”
They totally killed it!
Garden of Life dominated the plant-based supplement market with their “RAW” brand vitamins and protein. You can’t step into a health food store without being bombarded with their massive displays.
When the Good Go Bad
Remember when I told you I worked in the supplement industry? Garden of life was my favorite company. I loved to sell it, talk about it, and even used a multitude of their products!
I can tell you with certainty: they dominate the industry because of their training program for grocery employees.
Garden of Life threw dinner trainings on a regular basis, just to tell us:
- Garden of Life is the best, plain and simple.
- Plant based proteins are the best. They’re easily absorbed and assimilated by the body.. Why would anyone want anything else?
- Our vitamins are “Whole Food” and your body knows it! They’re the best vitamins!
(Their arrogance reminds me of a certain “president”…)
What did this create? A near monopoly in the supplement aisles. From multivitamins to tubs of protein, stores shoved more GOL product onto the shelves then they could handle.
I was fine with this, though. After all, Garden of Life is a “perfect company”, why would I regret pushing their products so hard?
“Whole Food” Supplements Are a Big Lie
First, let’s discuss the misconception that is “Whole Food Based” vitamins.
If you’re a supplement fanboy like I was, you might have noticed when GOL released their “Kind Life” multivitamins. This new formulation boasts that their vitamins are “100% whole food based”.
Wait.. I thought they sold “RAW Vitamin Code” supplements for years with that same tagline?
You’re right.. Garden of Life was caught lying.
Their RAW formula vitamins:
- Start as USP supplements. (Artificial, lab-synthesized vitamins that you’d find in every generic brand.)
- They take those USP vitamins and feed them to a yeast/probiotic mixture.
- Lastly, the mixture is dried, put into a capsule, and called “Whole Food”.
That’s not a food, that’s an artificial vitamin consumed by a yeast. Not. Whole. Foods.
Wait! It get’s better:
Years later, they release their new “Kind Life” line of vitamins. At the giant dinner training for the state, Garden of Life tells us:
“We’re sorry. We lied. RAW vitamins weren’t really whole food, but this formula is!!”
-Actual Quote from Trainer
So, technically now whole food supplements are real.. but they were just a big fat marketing lie until 2015! Garden of Life knew (and admitted) they were spreading a misconception.
Here are Some Highlights From Their “Vitamin Code” Product Page:
(Notice all the Registered Trademarks? That’s how they get away it)
- Vitamin Code® is a cutting edge line of RAW whole food vitamin supplements
- Vitamin Code utilizes a dual probiotic cultivation process that emulates the growing process found in the plant kingdom
- (Note: emulates. Not from the plant kingdom, but something that pretends)
- Nobel Prize-winning science inspired this process to “grow” food vitamins, similar to vegetables in the soil.
- (Note: the quotations around “grow” are actually on their page.. I didn’t add them!!)
- These individually cultivated vitamins and minerals are called RAW Food-Created Nutrients™
- (Note: not actual food-created nutrients, just a trademarked phrase!)
- RAW means these food vitamins are uncooked, untreated and unadulterated, delivered with probiotics and enzymes and absolutely no synthetic vitamins!
- (Hmmmmm.. Misleading much??)
Step over to their “MyKind” Vitamin Page and You’ll find:
- “Finally, there’s a whole food multi from real, honest, nutritious foods […]”
- “[mykind vitamins are made] from over 30 organic fruits, vegetables and herbs […]”
- [mykind vitamins are] made from real whole food, including organic fruits, veggies and herbs such as lemons, apples, basil, red cabbage, celery, tomatoes and many other real organic foods to give men the nutritional “punch” they need in a natural form
Wait! They’re both “Whole food” vitamins? What’s the deal!? (Notice that it’s printed on the front of both the RAW and MyKind vitamin boxes..)
One Step Forward, Three Steps Back
At this point, you might be wondering what McDonald’s had to do with this.
Remember when I said to hold onto your enthusiasm? You’re gonna need it.
After leaving the supplement industry (thank god!), I found myself “outside-the-loop” with new products.
Nothing could have prepared me for the next display I saw at the store.
My jaw hit the floor when I found their latest product line, “Garden of Life SPORT”, promotes Whey protein. (Whey is a milk protein, if you didn’t know.)
How are we, as vegans, supposed to feel when a “pro-vegan” company completely reverses their stance and starts promoting animal protein as superior? After countless hours of being told why “plant protein is superior”, how can you just abandon your customers like that?
That’s like the Federal Government telling us “Drugs are horrible, no one should do them.. but they’re actually healthy if you buy them from us!!”
I would feel extremely awkward if I still worked in the supplement aisle, for sure.
Customer: “Uhhh, I thought you said GOL used plant-protein because it’s superior. I see here they’re selling whey now?”
My response: “NO F**KING WHEY!”
But! But! They Weren’t Completely Vegan!
You caught me. Garden of Life never said they were a vegan company. They just used our community for monetary gains and ditched us as soon as it was viable.
They have sold fish oil, goat-whey protein, and other non-vegan items for years. But, last time I checked, none of these are whole food ingredients. So why is that part of your “mission” as a company?
Here we have some of the most non-vegan companies in the world taking steps forward. All the meanwhile, “vegan-friendly” companies are sabotaging our movement.
You and I both know veganism is the future. Why can’t these companies help move society in that direction (rather than fighting it)?
The Good, The Bad… and The “Eh”?
In summary, I don’t hate Garden of Life. What I do hate is dishonest companies spreading misinformation. Especially when the company promotes veganism on such a prominent level, it hurts our movement when their dishonestly comes to light.
If I wasn’t vegan, it would completely discredit the vegan movement (or at least anything the company had directly promoted).
This is why I am choosing to switch out my Garden of Life products. Sure, some of your stuff is amazing, but times are changing. You’re not the only vegan protein around anymore, and other brands are quickly picking up your slack. (Plus, you can’t charge like you’re the only one anymore, either! 💰)
I support companies that truly align themselves with the movements they represent.. Not companies that see our loving and trusting community merely as a paycheck.
Disclaimer: I do not guarantee any of the information in this post. I’ve never worked for Garden of Life, never seen their behind-the-scenes process, etc. I am simply compiling information passed onto me by representatives from the company. However, things change all the time and the information provided may eventually be out of date.