Veganism is one of the most talked-about lifestyle movements in recent times and has a global influence through its impact on the supply chains of brands and retailers. Veganism has also started to influence many industries including the leather, clothing and footwear sectors, however some businesses are struggling to respond appropriately amidst varying messages surrounding what veganism means.
Growth in demand for vegan products
A growing proportion of the population is adopting a vegan lifestyle. In 2016 the Vegan Society conducted a study that concluded there were approximately 540,000 individuals who identified themselves as Vegan in the UK. Projections vary however some estimates are that this number has increased to 3.5 million in 2018. There is evidence of international growth in the numbers of people choosing to adopt a vegan lifestyle. This growth has led to an increased demand for vegan products and vegan alternative materials.
What do we mean by vegan?
Despite its rise in popularity, there remains some debate about what it strictly means to be a ‘vegan’. There is no universal definition, and those which exist do not agree on the stringency with which the term should be applied. While some organisations classify those who adopt a plant-based diet as adhering to vegan principles, others reserve its use for those who identify as lifestyle vegans who, in addition to adopting a plant-based diet, completely abstain from using animal-based products such as leather.
For a product to adhere to ‘vegan’ principles, there is some agreement that it must not contain any materials which have been derived from, or tested on, animals. In practice, there are multiple materials which contain, or may contain, animal derivatives, and for there to be an assurance that a product is truly ‘vegan’, strict control of the supply-chain is required. Taking the example of vegan footwear, adhesives such as glue are a frequently encountered obstacle as retailers are not always able to guarantee that they contain zero animal by-products. With the growth in veganism looking set to continue, assuring customers that a product is ‘vegan’ offers an additional risk to having little visibility over product supply-chains.
How Eurofins | BLC can support your business
If you are interested in learning more about vegan alternative materials and want to understand the impacts for the leather sector, then Eurofins | BLC can support your business. We can help you ask the right questions, understand the performance characteristics of new materials and avoid the risks of making unsubstantiated claims.