As January rolls around each year, a new wave of individuals embark on the journey of Veganuary, a month-long pledge to follow a vegan diet.
This growing movement, however, seems to hit a nerve with mainstream media, who often portray it as a fleeting trend or a misguided attempt at activism. But why does the concept of Veganuary, veganism and plant-based, in general, prove so hard for the mainstream media to digest as if it were a 'bitter pill'.
Source: PFN AI Prompt -MSN struggling to swallow the bitter pill!
Sophie Shand, CEO of Dutch based Studio Flora Branding (shown left) says this phenomenon is very evident. 'The idea of veganism being a trend, has become a trend. This media fad is opportunistic, and Veganuary presents exactly that, the perfect opportunity to jump on the bandwagon of “has the vegan bubble burst?” or “a waning, melancholic fad', says Sophie Shand.
Sophie Shand says at the heart of this media skepticism are several key issues:
-Mischaracterisation of Vegan Diets: Vegan diets are often portrayed as difficult, impossible to maintain, protein-deficient, and heavily reliant on supplements. This narrative overlooks the diversity and nutritional adequacy of well-planned vegan diets.
-Selective Data Use: Media reports frequently cherry-pick data to suit anti-vegan narratives. For instance, the impact of soy cultivation on deforestation is disproportionately attributed to veganism, ignoring its broader use in animal feed.
-Vegaphobia: Vegans are often depicted as preachy, overly woke, or part of a brainwashing cult. This stigmatisation creates a barrier to understanding the true ethos of veganism.
-Gender Prejudices: Men who adopt vegan diets face stereotypes of being weak or less masculine, reflecting broader societal gender norms.
Sophie Shand explains further. 'Veganism confronts a truth that challenges deeply ingrained belief systems which portray meat as 'normal, natural, and necessary. This makes it exceptionally difficult to present veganism in a light which is acceptable to the general population'.
This societal conditioning, known as 'Carnism', plays a significant role. Carnism is the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals. It's so entrenched in our culture even substantial scientific evidence from organisations like the WHO, Cambridge University, or the IPCC can be conveniently overlooked.
Moreover, the role of the meat and fast food industries cannot be understated. These industries have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and often engage in campaigns or narratives designed to undermine the vegan movement.
'From a strategy perspective, veganism is in dire need of a rebrand. Consumers' fear of being 'brainwashed', the push-back against Veganuary, and the equating of scientific evidence with propaganda are all barriers that need to be addressed', adds Sophie Shand.
Source: PFN AI Prompt show the meat industry 'bogeyman' standing over MSN & the fastfood sector.
Despite these challenges, veganism offers undeniable environmental benefits. The UN has recently stated a shift towards plant-based food intake can significantly reduce carbon emissions. Yet, the mainstream media often fails to adequately highlight these benefits.
While presenting veganism positively remains a challenge, the media's role should be to educate, inform, and uncover truths. Instead, what we often see is a persistent desire to continue along a path of cliched narratives catering to a populist and divisive anti-vegan sentiment.
As Sophie Shand aptly puts it, 'the appeal of plant-based as a carbon reducer is undeniable, yet the mainstream media's digestion of this fact remains painfully slow'.
For more information on Veganuary CLICK HERE
For more information on Flora Branding CLICK HERE
Article inspiration from Sophie Shand via LinkedIn