The online publisher Vegan Food & Living has conducted a survey of its followers that shows that shoppers would rather have their food marked as vegan, as opposed to plant-based or meat-free. The Big Vegan Survey conducted by the website ask 1000s of vegans about their opinion on several vegan-related issues, and the 2024 survey asked the question: “How do you prefer your food to be labelled?”. A resounding 74% of participants said that they preferred the term “vegan” to “plant-based”.

The term Plant-Based is often ambiguous and problematic. According to Vegan Food & Living, “Plant-based” is often considered a “watered down” version of veganism, with people sometimes using the term to refer to a plant-rich diet that still includes some animal products like honey.

Those who eat a vegan diet don’t only eat plants, but also eat fungi, algae and bacteria, which are neither animals nor plants, so referring to food with these ingredients as plant-based is incomplete. Also, it’s not a helpful term as it is awkward to use and “based” doesn’t mean “exclusively”.  Additionally, veganism is a philosophy that has generated a lifestyle and a transformative socio-political movement, so ethical vegans may look at the term “vegan” more favourably as it has positive identity connotations — carnists, on the other side, may have the opposite view, and this is why replacing the term vegan for plant-based may be seen as a misguided carnist move aimed to flexitarians.    

Holly Johnson, Vegan Food & Living‘s editor said, “Shopping can be hard work when you’re a vegan…Milk powder can often be found lurking in places you wouldn’t expect to find it, such as Salt & Vinegar crisps, so it’s not surprising that vegans want labelling that clearly shows whether a product is free from all animal products.”

“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’.