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Vibrant Veganism

Food

Published by:

16 June 2020

Author: Britt Berden

Image: Desires of the Flesh by Cathrine Disney

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Plant-based products are being boldly redefined by creative practitioners who are pushing for a visceral approach that shows desire without compromise.

In the past couple of years we have seen a shift in people changing from meat-based diets to plant-based diets. In the UK alone, veganism has risen by 300% in the past five years (source: WTVOX) and The Economist declared that 2019 is ‘The Year of the Vegan’. This ethical and conscious mindset isn’t limited to plant-based diets, but is also increasingly holistically integrated into our homes and the products we use. Despite all this progress, veganism is often still associated with a bland colour palette, clichéd illustrations of animals and an unfulfilled stomach. These tropes perpetuate the idea that vegan consumers don’t have similar desires and needs as meat-eaters.

The homely, organic visual representation that has defined vegan messaging up to this point is outdated. It lacks imagination and innovation, and does not connect to a new generation of consumers who want to be associated with ethically and environmentally conscious brands. For any business offering plant-based products, it is vital to communicate that a vegan lifestyle can come without sacrifices.

Through the use of clashing colours, dynamic materials and artificial textures, a different visual language is emerging. Pioneering visual practitioners such as Cathrine Disney, FranklinTill and brands such as Eclipse and Vausages are at the forefront of this vibrant new wave of vegan marketing. Their images champion celebration over concessions, making it a feast for your appetite, wardrobe and way of life. ‘Vegan brands are increasingly focusing on creating gratifying plant-based alternatives that are tender and succulent, that ooze and dribble, that evoke the sensory pleasures of eating meat,’ explains Cathrine Disney, co-founder of Revolting Vegans.

‘Vegan brands are increasingly focusing on creating gratifying plant-based alternatives that evoke the sensory pleasures of eating meat.’
Cathrine Disney, co-founder, Revolting Vegans.

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.

 

Screenshot 2020-06-16 at 10.39.49

 

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