Vegans threaten to Up-root Wine Industry

South Africa’s growing vegan community is taking the local wine industry to task, accusing it of discriminatory marketing material in wineries’ media releases and tasting notes. According to Petunia Worteldy, president of the South African Association for Vegan Rights (Saaver), wineries continue to promote their products as suitable partners for meat, poultry and fish, hardly ever recommending the wines be enjoyed with vegan dishes.

“Despite the progressive move towards vegan wines shown by an increasing number of producers, when it comes to recommending wine pairings it is meat, flesh, and more meat,” says Worteldy. “These tasting notes are soaked with the blood of innocent animals, press releases dampened by the tears of bleating lambs. Especially with the new vintages hitting the market, consumers are advised to drink Cabernet Sauvignon with ‘hearty beef stews’, Pinotage with ‘braaied lamb-chops’ and Chardonnay with ‘roast chicken’.

“It truly is ghastly and does the wines a disservice – instead of anticipating a glass of crisp, bright Sauvignon Blanc, myself and other vegans shudder in horror upon reading the bottle’s back-label suggesting the wine be enjoyed with a raw, bloody slice of murdered tuna.”

According to Worteldy this lack of respect for the vegan community also shows the paucity of creativity in wine marketing. “It is just cut-and-paste stuff where every vintage of Shiraz gets associated with steak or osso buco,” she says. “So the wine might be made to vegan methods, but what does that help when you suggest I drink it with a ox-tail plucked from the corpse of a dead cow? Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, which is probably covered by a leather boot as well.”

Saaver, based in the coastal suburb of Glencairn outside Cape Town, is a not-for-profit organisation that is, says Worteldy, more than willing to consult to wineries who wish for their marketing material and wine recommendations to be more inclusive.

“A Cabernet Franc wine, for example, is a delicious accompaniment to grilled tofu with an organic lemon and parsley dressing,” she says. “Pinot Noir goes tremendously well with a delicious loaf of chopped mushrooms. And if you are into Riesling or Gewurztraminer, how about lentil and cauliflower curry served on a bed whole-grain rice. White wine afficionados will have no reason to deprive the ocean of its fish population when they taste the winning combination of an unwooded Chardonnay served with stewed kelp leaves and sea-grass consommé – delicious, especially when enjoyed while burning incense and listening to boot-leg Chrissie Hynde tunes.”

A delicious-looking vegan burger.

Worteldy says that while Saaver follows a friendly, peace-loving approach, but being wine-lovers, vegans demand to be included in the wine industry’s promotional and marketing narratives.

“Ignore vegans at your peril – if you haven’t realised this you should stop making wine and open organic open-air butcheries to show where your mind really lies,” she says. “Our community is growing, our community is strong and we are united in ensuring that vegans are no-longer seen as a fringe sector but a mainstream force to be reckoned with. But before a change of mind-set can occur, there must be change in heart. Thus, we implore on wineries to look into their hearts by dropping the pork wontons for some tofu pot-sticks so that we can unite as one.

“And remember – in vegan veritas.”

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4 thoughts on “Vegans threaten to Up-root Wine Industry

  1. Ha ha ha!!! The writer is correct, the back label of every Shiraz in the country states “excellent with braaied Skaap tjoppies”. And has done so for 50 years – we need to move on. We are in 21st century now!
    So my challenge is out to the first producer to pair his wine with vegetarian dishes only , might win a meal without the judges at Plant in Campsbay depending on the extent of the vegetarian and vegan dishes he/she selects . Judges decision is final

  2. The hardest part of being a vegan is not telling anyone.
    Petunia should inform Seeva members to spare themselves the blood and guts trauma and simply refrain reading back labels on wine bottles.

  3. “Petunia Worteldy”?! Seriously? ….

    But I agree with Braam – its hard to keep veganism a secret, and getting any attention paid to the condition is a constant struggle.

  4. What proportion of the wine drinking population is vegan. And why should our very natural taste for meat and fish be driven away when the wines we drink pair so well with ghem. I loathe you and I’m allergic to mushrooms but I love word and a good steak. Sushi is never good without fish. It is perhaps appropriate that the critic’s name mostly comprises the Afrikaans word for root. Cheers!

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