What vegan can learn from glutenfree

The vegan movement can learn something from the glutenfree “movement” (obviously it’s not a movement, but for lack of a better word). It hit me when I saw a woman posting something on Facebook. She wrote that for her, being glutenfree is a matter of life and death (she suffers from celiac disease and even a gram of gluten can have serious consequences), while there’s all these people who kind of “pretend” they need to be glutenfree. This makes it difficult for her to make e.g. waiters in restaurants understand that they have to take her special diet request very seriously (because, you know, that last gluten free person didn’t mind a little bit of this or that in their dish – sounds familiar?). However, she said, it is thanks to all these would-be glutenfree intolerants that she now can choose among a wealth of food products, in both stores and restaurants – products which a couple of years ago were simply not available.

glutenfree

Maybe you can see the parallel (probably not 100% correct, as parallels usually aren’t) with our vegan movement: here too, we have a small group of genuine vegans on the one hand, for whom eating vegan is extremely important, and on the other hand, a much bigger group of people who like to eat vegetarian/vegan now and then (to different degrees). Lots of the “genuine” ones will complain about the “loose” types and call them hypocrites or fakers, but we have to face it: they are a larger group than the one (or two) percent vegans, and it is they who create demand.

Let me say this again, because it is important: it is the big group of meat reducers that is creating the demand for vegetarian products. Food producers mainly cater to this group when creating vegetarian products. The increased choice of products, however, makes it easier to become stricter and stricter, more and more vegan.

So instead of calling the meat reducers names, let’s keep in mind that is because of them that being vegan is now so much easier than it used to be.

I leave it to you to think about the strategy take aways 🙂

4 thoughts on “What vegan can learn from glutenfree

  1. While I agree with your conclusion, I was expecting more of a marketing/ campaigning help from the post. Why? I am still at a loss how gluten-free could become so big in such a short time – and even find its way in practically all hip restaurants in the western world (something that still needs to happen for vegan dishes). They must have done something right that vegan campaigning still didn’t do (and it can’t be just ’embracing the part-time vegans’ – first of all, you have to create them in order to embrace them). Did the incredibly powerful (and wealthy) meat and dairy industry secretly sponsor these products, e.g. by creating things like the Paleo diet or sponsoring books like Wheat Belly? Or is it just that cutting out gluten is a lot easier than saying goodbye to animal products?

    1. Right now my main point is exactly to embrace vegans. I think the leniency within that “movement” counts for a lot. But you are right, there must be something more. I do not think that going glutenfree is easier than going vegan. Though maybe (but i must say i don’t know) many of the “pretenders” don’t go *entirely* glutenfree?
      Another lesson may be that health as a motivator can be very strong?
      Then there is the possibility that people going (partly or entirely) glutenfree actually feel different/better, either through placebo or because of something real (even though the evidence seems to point out going glutenfree is useless for most people). I for myself do experience, for instance, that eating bread makes me very tired (i’m pretty sure it’s not imaginary). Maybe that’s another possibility: while avoiding gluten may not have an effect in itself, something else is avoided along with the gluten (sugars, grains…), which could have an effect? Or maybe more of something else (sth healthy) is eaten instead.
      I’m still taking into account that going glutenfree or reducing gluten can have some real effect, and i don’t want to dismiss it too easily (like omnivores dismiss the people ditching animal products too easily).

      there’s some articles out there:
      http://www.salon.com/2010/09/16/us_fea_food_gluten_free_boom/
      (this speaks also of the celebrity factor)

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