Like in America, meat producers in Europe have entered the plant-based market driving customers that could have gone to vegan companies into supporting animal exploitation, which could be a strategy to guarantee that animal meat production is not affected by the growth of veganism. Meat producers are much bigger than their vegan counterparts, so every time they create a plant-based version of their products vegan companies find it hard to compete. Once meat companies tricked vegans into buying their plant-based products, they could use the money to exploit more animals.

In Spain, Campofrío Food Group, a subsidiary of Sigma Alimentos, is a European leader in the processed meat market with 3,000 employees and operating in 80 countries. In 2017, the pig flesh processing giant expanded to the plant-based category with Vegalia, its first plant-based brand. However, while their vegetarian pizza, sausages, and sandwich slices, contain eggs, making it unsuitable for vegans, in 2020, the brand launched the Magic Burger, the brand’s first vegan-friendly made from soy, peas, and mushrooms. Since then, the brand has added two other vegan products, chicken flavour fingers and nuggets to continue attracting the cash from vegans that would otherwise have gone to vegan companies.

In Germany, Ponnath Group have several subsidiaries, including Ponnath Die Meistermetzger, the oldest meat producer in the country that specialises in cooked sausage, raw sausage, ham lard, and frozen products. In 2015, Ponnath expanded into the plant-based meat category with the launch of Veggie Gourmet Ponnath. In the Netherlands, the Jan Zandbergen Group supplies and produces animal meat products. Over the years, it has tried to produce fake meat alternatives, and it is the exclusive EU distributor for the British plant-based brand Moving Mountains.

As vegan organisations are not explicitly campaigning against vegans giving money to meat producers that marked plant-based products (and some organisations give them even free publicity), many vegans may continue to directly fund animal exploitation, not even realising that this is what they are doing. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.