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Why there is a necessity of vegetarian & cruelty free food certification
Saturday, 29 January, 2022, 12 : 00 PM [IST]
Abhishek Biswas
In recent years, there has been a proliferation of vegetarian and vegan symbols on food packages, keeping pace with the retail sales of plant based food products and the growth of the vegetarian market. A 2010 study estimated that around 1, 450 million people were vegetarian by necessity and a further 75 million by choice, accounting for approximately 21.8% of the global population.

People may be vegetarian or vegan due to religious beliefs, because of ethical concerns, such as animal rights and environmental protection, or health issues. Whatever the reason, these consumers need to be certain the products they buy have not come into contact with animal products. To gain this trust of the consumers a vegetarian certification is much needed so that the consumers can believe that what they are having is 100% vegetarian and cruelty free.

A common problem is that a product may look to be purely plant-based but actually contain a hidden meat product, the jeopardy of accidentally consuming hidden ingredients is one of the reasons for vegetarians and vegans demanding greater clarity and more easily accessed information on packaging which is possible only if the product receives vegetarian certification.

The label can only be applied to product packaging following successful verification against a demanding list of criteria. It is a reliable, safe guide for consumers, and allows manufacturers to clearly position their products for the correct target group. Certification can only be achieved after testing all ingredients and raw materials that constitute the product for animal substances. This includes a thorough examination of non-declarable additives. Due to thorough examination, it creates a sense of trust among the consumers while purchasing vegetarian products.

Covid-19 pandemic has impacted drastically on the growth of vegetarian consumers and has encouraged some consumers to choose animal-free diets. This in turn has contributed to an increase in the development of new products by plant protein firms and to a boost in consumer perception of the health benefits of plants, both as part of their diet and in healing remedies. Increasingly, consumers are more conscious of food safety and food origin, and the Covid-19 led disruption of global supply chains has strengthened demand for shopping and dining locally. So, if a product receives the vegetarian certification, it can build a trust among the consumers that they are consuming pure vegetarian food products.

A vegetarian certification gives a consumer the information and confidence which is needed to consume a vegetarian food product. The vegetarian certification means that the product is aligned with the vegetarian standards. The consumers demand trust, authenticity, transparency, information and answers which they get by looking at the Vegetarian certification on the product and it helps to increase the sales of the products.

Vegans or vegetarians want to be able to shop, eat and drink with confidence. The vegetarian certification gives the consumer the peace of mind they need to buy and enjoy the product. The ‘vegan' and ‘plant based' claims are increasingly in demand also in the non-food sectors; the growth lever is not the only animal rights ethics but also a greater attention to health and the growing environmental awareness that guides consumers towards new models and lifestyles.

The only way to fulfil the demands of vegetarians and to build a trust among them is a certification that can find excellent synergies with vegetarian certification. The vegetarian, vegan and plant based certification can also be extended to non-food products that meet the requirements set by the specification.

Covid-19 and the business interruption across the world has impacted global food supply chains and consumer habits. In response, the industry has made significant effort to be flexible and adapt ways of working to ensure food production and supply. Due to the pandemic, many people have a fear in them while consuming animal products and are shifting to veganism and vegetarianism but they have a doubt while choosing vegetarian products. To remove the sense of fear in them a vegetarian certification is the need of an hour for the consumers as they now look for vegetarian marks on any food item they wish to buy. Hence, vegetarian certification is a necessity for the consumers.

(The author is founder at Sattvik Council of India)
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