The Indian market is warming up to vegan or plant milk. This is also creating an overlap with packaged-dairy consumers and has caught the attention of many dairy brands as well.
These brands have a belief that plant milk is inferior, they are now putting pressure on food safety regulators to push it back. This tussle is now moved to court.
If not a success, soy, oat, and other alternatives to milk, have become quite popular. As the Indian market has very little scope for plant alternatives for milk and meat products, reports have estimated this industry’s worth around Rs 200-300 crore.
India’s big dairy brands— Amul, Mother Dairy, along with several national and local milk cooperatives largely dominate the market with a net worth of Rs 1.5 lakh crore. And with a net worth like this, any industry will be concerned seeing the growing popularity of plant-based milk.
“If you make plant-based products, you have to make sure you say they are synthetic products with some natural ingredients, with artificial color, flavor… You eat food because of three things — taste, nutrition, and affordability. These products do not meet any of these parameters. They are not natural products. They are nutritionally very inferior to milk protein,” said RS Sodhi, the managing director of Amul.
On World Vegan Day many celebrities declared their love for veganism, they might have turned vegan for ethical or health reasons but the youngsters dying to keep up with their favorite star are keen on taking up this lifestyle.
For a country like India where the majority of its population falls below the poverty line, finding substitutes for dairy is not at all practical. PETA India advised Amul to start producing vegan milk. Amul lashed out at this.
Amul vs PETA
Dairy giant, Amul came up with a public interest advertisement, the brand claimed to bust myths about plant-based beverages, they aim to tell non-profit entities that there is no animal cruelty taking place in the dairy industry.
The brand tries to highlight the cultural and spiritual importance of dairy in India. The ad was said to present “facts” against “myths” about vegan milk.
In the ad, Amul made sure to mention how milk has been an integral part of Indian lives ever since the Harappan civilization from about 4,500 years ago and how the Hindu deity, Lord Krishna, is the caretaker of holy cows, who was also known as “milkman of India.”
The ad also pointed out that cows who are worshipped in India, will not be treated with cruelty just to yield milk for human consumption. Milk is a completely natural superfood, plus vegetarian, whereas plant-based beverages contain all kinds of additives, stabilizers, thickening agents, and also they are six times costlier than milk.
This move came after a month PETA asked Amul to switch up to vegan milk. The latter’s response was sharp and quick. The non-profit organization told Amul that they can benefit from the booming vegan food and milk market in a letter, they wanted to play the “If you can’t beat them, join them” card by pointing out the interest in vegan milk.
Hitting back, Amul’s vice-chairman Valamji Humbal advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban PETA as they were ruining people’s livelihood and cleared out all rumors of animal cruelty by stating “people in India raise milch animals as family members,” he also added that PETA was trying to break the Indian dairy industry by spreading false rumors about it.
“They are not plant-based; they are chemical-based. They are artificial,” said Sodhi “Don’t you know dairy farmers are mostly landless? Your (PETA) designs may kill their only source of livelihood. Mind it milk is in our faith, our traditions, our taste, our food habits an easy and always available source of nutrition,” he said in response to PETA’s letter.
PETA India’s CEO Dr. Manilal Valliyate, on the other hand, stated that Amul is showing itself as the bully, who is unable to see or appreciate the public’s concern for animals and has become a business that cannot change despite its changing consumer trends.
“But no amount of bullying is going to change the fact that vegan eating is taking the world by storm,” he said.
This fight is going on for some time now, and no one seems to back down from their viewpoint. It was recently found that Amul has taken PETA to court over this, the decision is still pending.
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This post is tagged under: plant milk, vegan, India, Dairy brands, packaged-dairy, consumers, food safety, meat products, Amul, Mother Dairy, RS Sodhi, managing director, synthetic products, World Vegan Day, celebrities, youngsters, poverty line, substitutes, PETA, non-profit entities, public interest advertisement, cultural, Harappan civilization, spiritual, Hindu deity, Lord Krishna, holy cow, worship, brands, myths, facts, courts, human consumption, rumors, animal cruelty, vice-chairman, Valamji Humbal, CEO, Dr. Manilal Valliyate, bully, consumer trends