This is a difficult one. Many companies have been in the news, for selling out their companies to bigger companies. They do this to get enough funding to sell more. Of course if they sell more, more animals are helped. But others are pretty black-and-white about this – that you could crowdfund for ethical investors. Or simply sell less, and don’t give profits to bigger companies that are using your success to harm animals and the planet.
Oatly is one of the world’s most successful oat milk companies. Based in Sweden, it has removed palm oil from its oat cream, sells to baristas (a market worth millions – they love the foaming oat milk for cappuccinos) and the founder managed to not pay millions in advertising, when the Swedish Dairy Board criticised his ad (playing piano and singing badly in a field) claiming that his milk was ‘like milk, but for humans’. The criticism went viral, and it caused so many sales, he said he wished he had done the ad sooner.
However, recently the company has sold to Blackstone, a company with a poor environmental record and links to Trump. One critic said ‘I don’t want my money going to the destruction of the planet, just so I can have a creamy coffee in the morning’. Oatly’s response was that if we just ‘shut out the companies that make less sustainable choices, we won’t give them the chance to improve, and global capital will steer in a worse direction’. What do you think?
There is an alternative. This wonderful way to promote local oat milk, works with cattle farmers to have their cows live out lives on the farm (aka sanctuary style) and then supports them to grow and sell and delivery locally-produced oat milk in glass bottles, for a growing market. No food waste, no plastic containers, and it helps to retain long-loved family farms, while saving cows too. What a great idea.
Another example of people for and against is Beyond Meat, which has used its vegan chicken to sell to KFC, so now they offer a sustainable ‘green bucket of chicken’ for their billions of customers.
Another company that has come under recent criticism is the Ayurvedic tea and herbal brand Pukka in the UK. Many people now boycott it, as it was bought by Unilever, which is likely the world’s most unethical company. Again the arguments are the same. No doubt the motives are good. But there is something not quite right (a bit like reading a book from an indie bookstore that’s printed on recycled paper, always feels better than if you ordered it from a big corporate online store).
Years ago, The Body Shop faced a wrath of anger, when it sold out to L’Oreal. Now it’s been bought by another company (and animal testing sales have only stopped due to politics, not due to the ethics of L’oreal). Other ‘ethical brands’ that have been bought by others include:
- Ecover and Method (cleaning and laundry brands) are both now owned by a big animal-testing corporate giant. Do yourself a favour and head to the local health store to buy truly ethical brands for homes.
- Alpro milk, yogurt and desserts are owned by Danone, a big corporate brand with ethical issues, including the marketing of baby formula (along with Nestle, the world’s most boycotted brand – which owns the pet food company Lily’s Kitchen.
- Although the updated plant-based cookbook is fabulous, Linda McCartney commercial foods are owned by a company that sells factory-farmed animal foods.
- Green & Black chocolate is owned by the company that used to be called Cadbury. So although its own chocolate is either vegan or Fair Trade organic, the company that owns it is not. Mondelez has Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for ethical sourcing of cocoa.
- KVD Beauty is vegan brand, but is now owned by a company Louis Vutton that makes items from leather, silk and fur. An investigation found that crocodiles were being kept on cruel farms in Vietnam, to be slaughtered for their skins.
- Innocent Smoothies are now owned by Coca-Cola, a brand that is boycotted by many due to funding cruel rodeos in the US.
But surely crowdfunding investors is a better way? This is what Wearth London (a vegan zero waste store) is doing instead.