Apologies for the slightly sporadic posting over the last few days – I’ve been crazy busy on a big new project which we’ll be unveiling very soon! Trust me – it’s gonna be worth the wait!
But back to business! Earlier this week I read an interesting piece in the New York Daily News that seven 7-Eleven stores in Manhattan will soon be carrying some specifically labeled “vegan” foods. For those that don’t know what being a vegan involves, it’s a type of vegetarian diet that excludes all products derived from animals in any form such as eggs, milk, butter and cheese. It’s not a diet I could ever commit to, I just love steak and I eat eggs almost daily. Plus, I think animal products can provide some really great nutrition that can’t be matched by vegetarian diets. But I respect the commitment following such a diet must involve.
Of course what’s funny is that 7-Eleven already carries many vegan items as do a lot of other food stores. After all what are fruits, beans, vegetables, legumes, some veggie burgers, soups, potato chips, taco shells and a whole slew of other products. So is this really a news story – or more a gimmick to lure in new customers.
In fact I’d wager that you’d have a HARDER time finding a healthy food at 7-Eleven at the moment than finding a food that classifies as vegan! And I don’t know that the move will really attract all that much business. I’m sure that being vegan is a way of life as much as a diet and I can’t see many people with such strict diets buying their food next to greasy, fattening, hot dogs rolling away on the rotisserie at the counter. In my opinion 7-Eleven is a place where people shop for fast food on the go – energy drinks, beer, cigarettes, and in my case – protein shakes and bars after I hit the gym.
Even though I don’t follow a vegetarian lifestyle for many reasons, I respect people’s choices to eat (and believe) as they chose. But I’d bet that the number of obese vegans is quite low in comparison to the rest of the population who follow a more traditional (i.e. unhealthy) diet. So I’m not sure why 7-Eleven isn’t spending its resources and marketing dollars making more of its products healthier rather than targeting a fairly niche market.
We all know American obesity rates are going through the roof with almost 2/3 of the US population now overweight or obese. At the same time 7-Eleven has almost 8,000 stores across America. Personally I think the chain could have quite an impact at lowering those numbers.
In the meantime recent polls demonstrate that only about 6% of the population is vegetarian, and of those, only about 5% admit to being vegan. Now I’m not a math scholar, but I don’t have to be to realize that is not a lot of people. So why 7-Eleven chose to target vegans and not make it a priority to help with a national epidemic escapes me.
I understand the wisdom of expanding into new markets but as a corporation I do wish 7-Eleven saw the bigger picture – and the bigger problem. Why not spend that money elsewhere and help solve the real issues at hand – instead of selling more sugar loaded Slushee’s and other fattening foods with monster calorie levels. Ironically, people that are healthier generally live longer, and would theoretically be around longer to shop at 7-Eleven, instead of dying of a heart attack at age 55! It makes sense both morally and financially.
I’d like to see 7-Eleven offer foods that were healthier alternatives for the masses to eat, not just one particular segment of the population (they do admittedly offer a Pick Smart range but it’s a token effort). I can’t find anything in there I’d eat save for a few nutrition bars and shakes. One reason people make bad dietary choices is they don’t have any other options, and it would be nice to see that start to change. The fact that even chains like McDonalds, KFC and Burger King have introduced healthier options is a clear sign towards where the market is headed. Is 7-Eleven really doing all it can to improve the health of our nation?
But what do you think? Should 7-Eleven have prioritized a Vegan Diet Menu? Are you Vegan and do you shop at the store? I’d love to hear your comments…