16 June 2020
Author: Britt Berden
Niche visual depictions of animal-free food are challenging preconceptions of conventional vegan representations. Art directors are pushing this language to become more pleasurable and gratifying. Through the use of visual stimulation and visceral textures, creatives are subverting cues from the meat industry to represent an ethical lifestyle without compromising on indulgence.
Cathrine Disney and Anjli Vyas, co-founders of Revolting Vegans, encourage a critical dialogue through dinners and gatherings that aim to redefine our complex relationships between food and contemporary living. Their wilfully rebellious aesthetic communicates the cruelty-free mindset without overlooking sustainability and social awareness. These dinners are an evolution of Cathrine’s master’s thesis research in which she asked: ‘As a vegan, how can I morally indulge my insatiable desire for meat?’ ‘I began to explore really oozy, juicy, messy food photography,’ she says, ‘the kind that is often associated with junk food – bleeding burgers, stringy pizza cheese and dollops of sauce.’
London-based futures research agency FranklinTill Studio follows a similar approach, emphasising a guilt-free approach in its recent collaboration with London photographer Louise Hagger. With nods to 1970s food styling, vegan hotdogs by Vausages and seaweed-marinated banana blossom ‘fish’ are portrayed through the use of shiny textures and luscious dripping sauces. It's a bold approach that injects a blast of saturated colour, which gives consumers a refreshingly different representation of modern veganism, one that is as rich and indulgent as non-plant-based food marketing.
Designers are proposing a shift away from monotonous organic packaging with a tongue-in-cheek, no-fuzz and poppy approach that borrows cues from the fast food industry.
The packaging of Eclipse ice cream, for example, shows a quirky approach with candy-coloured packaging and curved typography. The retro design brings a nostalgic energy to it. Temple of Seitan, on the other hand, communicates in a more grounded way. Its bold static red-white colour palette uses rigid typography, showing a modern and crisp approach. Finally, Amy Pastre and Courtney Rowson, the co-founders of SDCO Partners, designed the packaging for Off Track and found that it was important to introduce new terminology around vegan food, in particular how being plant-based is just a new way to view an existing category.