Vegan Cheese Company Daiya Isn’t So “Vegan” Anymore

To many people who become “vegan,” it’s not so much a diet as it is a lifestyle.

This means not only eating cruelty-free foods, but reflecting that philosophy in your everyday choices and actions as well. Here at CE, we encourage people to vote with their dollar. If you dislike the actions of a company, one of the best ways to “fight” said company is to simply not support them. After all, without demand, there would be no need to supply consumers. For those of us who avoid or don’t consume dairy, the vegan food company Daiya provides numerous dairy-free cheese alternatives, and is well-known throughout the vegan community given their wide range of products free from dairy, gluten, and soy. However, Daiya was recently acquired by the international Big Pharma company Otsuka for CA $405 million. This speaks a lot about Daiya as a company, whose core values claim to include both health and animal welfare. Not only is Otsuka a pharmaceutical giant that creates numerous drugs with dangerous side effects, but they also test on animals. To me, if a company tests on animals, they are not vegan. According to the statement issued on the acquisition, acquiring Daiya “expands Otsuka’s product portfolio, adding a new category of plant-based products in North America, and provides Daiya with a like-minded partner with expertise in consumer brands, RD and manufacturing, and global markets.” There’s no question that it was a smart business move for Otsuka. Daiya has been thriving as a company and the popularity of plant-based diets has risen consistently over the past decade. Adopting them will likely be a necessary shift in the future to not only save our environment and our health but also to satisfy increasing global food demand. Terry Tierney, Daiya’s CEO, considers the acquisition to be an “honour.” “With aligned values and vision, Daiya and Otsuka have a tremendous opportunity to bring the incredible benefits of a plant-forward lifestyle to people around the world,” Tierney said. “Our partnership with Otsuka enables us to leverage their expertise and vast resources to continue growing our line of great-tasting, allergy-friendly food products that have delighted consumers for more than 10 years.” His wording seems strange, given that their values are far from being aligned. Many vegans choose to eat plant-based because they’re interested in improving their overall health, which doesn’t align with the values of most pharmaceutical companies. It’s no secret that Big Pharma often creates pills with adverse side effects because they profit off of sick people. This is not an industry most health advocates support wholeheartedly. Additionally, Otsuka tests on animals, which means they are directly contributing to animal cruelty. Animal testing is unnecessary, yet countless companies continue to use it because it’s still considered a “norm” within many industries, including Big Pharma. As a result, you have animals being brutally tortured by way of drug addiction, skin burns, crushed spinal cords, tumour growth, forced blindness or deafness, seizures, poison, and far more. As a result, people all over the world are boycotting Daiya to show the company that their recent acquisition is not something they will support.

There’s even a petition titled “Keep Daiya Vegan,” which you can sign here. People are claiming that Daiya has “sold out” and that their values don’t reflect those that are so strongly held by much of the vegan community. It’s not just the public, even vegan businesses that use Daiya products in their kitchens are boycotting them.

The Toronto-based vegan pizzeria, Apiecalypse Now, goes through a whopping 20 cases of Daiya cheese per week, an amount that no other supplier can satisfy. In response to the recent acquisition, Apiecalypse Now will be donating all proceeds from the sale of Daiya in their restaurant to a local animal sanctuary because they do not feel comfortable profiting in any way from animal testing. This specific pizzeria is the largest single purchaser in Canada of Daiya products outside of grocery stores. Although this is only an interim solution during Daiya’s transition period, they are encouraging the public to sign the petition to stop this acquisition. This is a real problem for vegan businesses. To me, Daiya’s actions suggest to the public that “if you don’t sell out, you can’t become a successful global business,” which is simply untrue. Remaining in alignment with your values is precisely the definition of success we should all be pushing. No amount of money can justify a poor moral decision. This acquisition is an important lesson on being the change. If you want the world to be a brighter place, full of healthier people and less violence, then we need to set that example for others. To me, Daiya sold out to a Big Pharma company. However, there are many other vegan companies that are still thriving, without compromising their beliefs. It’s entirely possible to achieve success without abandoning your morals, and to me, you cannot be successful if you’re making unethical decisions and going against your core values. This could also be seen as a push for many vegans to consume less vegan junk food. At the end of the day, Daiya products aren’t necessarily good for your body, as they’re extremely high in fat and full of processed ingredients. Though they’re certainly better for your health than many animal products, they’re still not “healthy” per se. So, instead of supporting Daiya, perhaps try some nut cheeses or other healthier vegan alternatives instead! .

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