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Sainsbury’s Placing Vegan ‘Meat’ in the Meat Aisle – Is It the Right Thing to Do?

UK supermarket Sainsbury’s has recently announced their decision to place vegan ‘meat’ in the meat aisle of their stores, following the news that they are introducing two new products. The products are made by Danish manufacturer Naturli’ Foods, with a mushroom ‘bleeding’ burger and vegan mince launching into stores at the end of the month. Veganism continues to rise, with consumers having a list of reasons to go vegan. Predominantly, animal welfare and environmental concerns are at the top of people’s agendas for making the switch to a plant based diet and a vegan lifestyle.

Is it a good idea to stock vegan products next to meat?

There are undoubtedly arguments for and against placing vegan ‘meat’ in the meat aisle. Obvious reasons for not placing vegan products in these aisles in stores is because as vegans, the decision to avoid any association with meat and animal products is a conscious one – and walking down a meat aisle is less than ideal when going about your weekly shop.

However, let’s think about the bigger picture here. If placing vegan items that resemble the appearance of meat in the meat aisles is going to make consumers think twice about what they buy, surely that’s a win for veganism? In any UK supermarket, meat-free items are located in a different aisle, and unless people are intentionally going to purchase these items, its unlikely omnivores will shop in these aisles. In addition to this, the flexitarian market is a booming sector for food manufacturers, as more people are reducing meat and animal products from their diets. It is estimated that there are 22 million flexitarians in the UK and although they might not be vegan just yet, the product placement of these new items from Naturli’ Foods could be the catalyst to another surge in a reduction in meat consumption as veganism shows no sign of slowing down, and is far from a fad.

Ultimately, flexitarians are the target market for these new products. Retailers provide the products needed for people to make this change to their lifestyle and become vegan; however it’s changing the mind-set of consumers that can be the difficult part. The efforts from Sainsbury’s to become the first UK supermarket stocking vegan ‘meat’ in standard meat aisles is welcomed. As a vegan community these actions should be encouraged to not only normalise meat alternatives in a world where it’s deemed the unusual choice, but to promote a healthier, more ethical lifestyle.

Will this product placement reduce meat consumption and increase the vegan population?

This is the burning question: will it work? In theory, we’d like people to turn vegan overnight, but we all know that realistically, this isn’t always the case. Changing the way consumers think about their products by placing them side by side is a great way to initiate conversation and provoke thought about what is being served at dinner time. Not everyone responds to graphic footage of the meat, dairy and egg industry in the same way, pleading ignorance is bliss. Some people respond better to gentle encouragement and the rest falls into place, and we have to hope that this is the result that will come from the new product placement in Sainsbury’s.

What are your thoughts on Sainsbury’s stocking vegan products alongside meat? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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