Viva! took an all-vegan milkshake bar across the country, giving out free vegan milkshakes at university fresher fairs!
In recent years, the UK has seen a steady decline in the demand for animal-based products whilst sales of plant-based products continue to grow. A quarter of Brits now choose plant milks over dairy, and this is forecast to keep on growing.
However, despite increased awareness about veganism, many people are still unaware that the life-cycle of a dairy cow is a continual exploitation of the female reproductive system. She is artificially inseminated at a young age, carries her baby for nine months, only for the calf to be ripped away from her shortly after birth. This practice is standard across the dairy industry and is used to produce ice cream, milk, cheese, butter and yogurt. This happens in all dairy farms, from small organic to large zero grazing mega-dairies.
To show the British public how easy (and tasty) it is to switch out dairy milk for a cruelty-free plant-based alternative, we took our Viva!shake milkshake stall on a Freshers Tour.
The 16-24 age category consistently ranks as the demographic most interested in veganism, and we reached thousands of new students, distributing our new Student Guide to Eating Vegan, and encouraging as many as possible to choose vegan – what better way to do so than over a milkshake?
Across the five universities, we spoke to a whopping 3,000 students. Many showed an overwhelming desire to reduce their environmental impact on our planet and quickly made the connection that animal agriculture simply isn’t sustainable. Others were shocked to learn about the inherent cruelty of the dairy industry. We had several people wishing that Viva! would set up a vegan milkshake shop on campus because they loved the shakes so much, with a huge proportion saying that oat milk, in particular, was simply superior to dairy in taste, ethics, and sustainability.
Our conversations may have started with dairy, but we engaged with so many students on the need to adopt a vegan lifestyle, discussing the horrific fate of male chicks in the egg industry, the horrors of slaughterhouses – whether the animal is raised free-range, organic or intensively – and the fact that we simply don’t need to buy into this cruelty to be healthy or fit. A lot of the more sporty students were interested to learn about the health benefits of veganism, but by far the most popular leaflet was our new Student Guide to Eating Vegan, equipped with quick, cheap and tasty recipes along with a handy shopping list of vegan essentials.
Far more of our conversations with students were on how to be vegan rather than why; most of them were already on board with the arguments, and so Viva! was there to encourage students to make the jump towards a kinder, more sustainable lifestyle.
Over six events we gave out an average of 500 shakes a day, and there was a huge range in our conversations. For some students, it was the very first time trying plant milks, and it was clear that they had their doubts before taking the first sip. “It’ll just taste like soya, won’t it?” one student reckoned, with another thinking it wouldn’t be much more flavoursome than water.
They all gave it a go though and were surprised to find how creamy and tasty dairy-free milks can be. When students learnt about the 95,000 male calves killed in 2015 as a by-product of the British dairy industry, and how young dairy cows are when they’re sent to slaughter, several quickly made the connection and decided they would move towards veganism that day.
We’d like to say thank you to Sheffield, Manchester Metropolitan, Nottingham, Southampton and Cambridge Universities for a warm welcome. Stay tuned for our next tour in 2021!
The best thing to do in order to stop supporting the cruel dairy industry is to try dairy-free! It’s easy, healthy and tasty. You can still have chocolate, cake, yogurt, cream, milk and cheese alternatives!