Of all the words and phrases food companies use to promote the health or dietary benefits of their wares—sugar-free, low-calorie, diet, low-calorie—none is more of a turnoff than the word “vegan.” That’s according to a study of 2,200 American adults conducted by Morning Consult, which found that 35 percent said the word “vegan” made a food package less appealing, the highest of any phrase or word presented.
“Diet” came in a close second, with 31 percent of respondents saying that made food less appealing, followed by “sugar-free.” It’s easy to see why those two are unappetizing: they indicate that something is lacking or missing from a food. But vegan? Vegan could theoretically be used on a label for foods that are already naturally vegan. Do vegan, gluten-free tortilla chips sound less appealing than regular tortilla chips, even if they’re the same thing? The survey seems to say they do.
But there’s a potential work-around for food companies trying to appeal to vegan consumers while not alienating meat-eaters. Other surveys indicate “plant-based” sounds more appealing than “vegan,” conveying more freedom of choice and less restriction. So, food companies, you have your marching orders: Ditch the v-word and get down with #plantbasedlife.