Food company Rude Health, famous for their nut milk, cereals and energy bars popular with vegans, have alienated the community it markets to by posting a pro dairy Instagram post and a blog entry on their website which insinuates that veganism is a fad diet.
The Instagram post, dated 17 October, reads:
"We may be dairy alternative producers but that doesn't mean we are against dairy. Quite the opposite. We are for good quality, proper milk...we're talking whole milk. Full fat milk. We don't use skimmed milk powder in any of our foods. Nature has provided us with an ingredients that is the perfect balance of protein, good fats and natural sugars (lactose). Why mess with it? When they take cream out of milk, they remove most of the texture and all of the joy. We are not skimmed milk people, we live life to the full, with full fat dairy products. See link in bio for more."
Not surprisingly many of their vegan followers were shocked by the statement and many took to the social media app to voice their discontent.
Vegan_Jules_living_easy wrote: "Keep the cream in the milk cause that’s where the real joy is? Nope sorry joy comes from not seeing a calf being torn away from their mother so humans can drink her milk that does not belong to them. #misplacedjoy#notyourmum #notyourmilk"
Hampshirevegan joined in: "Disappointed, I thought you were going to be part of the future of food. Another customer lost, until your ridiculous attitude changes."
ashleytaylor4754: "Absolutely written off your whole customer base - biggest marketing blunder in history... unreal! Haha"
linaisms added: "OH I forgot it was natural to forcefully impregnate a sentient being, take their titty milk and erase their child of existence! OOPS THANKS FOR REMINDING ME"
In another bizarre move by Rude Health, co-founder and brand director Camilla Barnard wrote a blog post on the company's website titled 'Stay Brilliant' (which you can read here), insinuating that veganism and vegetarianism were just passing diets.
The post, which was intended to discuss cutting out food types, seemed to take aim at various food fads, and included veganism in the 'rant' (as the post is categorised in their URL).
"First there was clean eating which promised (no guarantees) that if you cut out meat, fish, dairy, gluten & grains from your diet, you would glow with wellness. Then there was paleo, in homage to caveme (sic), meaning you could eat as much meat, fish and dairy as you like, but no grains. Confusingly, almond milk & grain-free granola was apparently a big hit with paleo man.
Now it’s vegetarianism and veganism, promising to save you from cancer and early death and save the animals while you’re at it, if you believe What the Health, Okja and other propaganda films masquerading as documentaries on Netflix. You can eat as much gluten as you like on these, which is unusual, but bread without the butter is a bitter win."
Many vegans took to Twitter to condemn the Rude Health's posts, calling their action 'brand suicide' and accusing them of alienating their customer base.
It looks like a monumental PR fiasco for the brand, summed up by one Instagram user when they asked if Donald Trump had taken over their feed.
Rude Health have released the following statement:
“For those who know us only for our dairy-free drinks, which happen to be vegan as well as dairy-free, it may seem strange that Rude Health does not promote itself as a vegan company. This said, we are not against vegetarianism, veganism or any other food or lifestyle choice. What we are concerned about is anxiety around food and anxiety around eating or not eating certain foods or food groups.
“Our range is about quality and choice and our focus is on flavour, responsible sourcing and the enjoyment of food, so much so, that we tend to rant about it from time to time, be that on social media, on our website, or in a field in North Wales. We worry about people feeling confused or guilty about the food they eat. We rave about eating as a social activity and about reconnecting with food, through education. We rave about choice.
“At Rude Health we believe food is more than a way to simply nourish us; it should be a pleasurable, social and thoughtful part of our lives. We eat to live and live to eat and embrace all foods as long as they are sustainably produced and as unrefined as possible. What we really want is for everyone to be in rude health. How each and every one of us achieves this goal is truly personal and very individual.”
Nick Barnard and Camilla Barnard, Co-founders of Rude Health.
Ethica Magazine have contacted Rude Health to clarify whether they thought referring to film Okjia and documentary What The Health as propaganda might be seen as critical or offensive. We also asked them whether they thought about the fact that vegans don't avoid eating certain foods because of 'anxiety' but for ethical reasons. Furthermore we have asked them to expand on whether a post about milk on Instagram would alienate vegan customers and make them think the company might be expanding their food range including dairy.
We will be updating the story as soon as we hear from Rude Health.