Tag Archives: Whole Foods labels

Whole Foods botches its new vegan/vegetarian labels

22 Feb

How hard was this. Really. You’re Whole Foods. Shouldn’t you know the difference between vegan and vegetarian? I’m not talking about the employees — oh wait, sorry, “team members” — who can vary from super knowledgeable to super ignorant. I’m talking about the people whose job it was to come up with new labeling for Whole Foods pre-packaged foods. And yet they completely screwed it up. In their attempt to use symbols to let people know which items are vegan and which are vegetarian, they’ve actually made things worse.

VEG

VEG

The initial problem is the symbols themselves. Here’s the first one: VEG. That’s right, they decided the best way to distinguish between a vegan item and a vegetarian one was to use the three letters that begin both words. But I suppose, whichever one this might be, the other one will be clear, and that by process of elimination I’ll realize which one VEG stands for. So the other symbol they’re using is… VN. Yup, the first and last letters of each word.

VN

VN

But it gets worse. (You know I don’t tell stories unless they have a but it gets worse part.) And the way it gets worse is that NEITHER OF THESE ITEMS IS VEGAN:

The VN orzo "contains milk" so "VEG" can't mean vegan.

The VN orzo “contains milk” so “VN” can’t mean vegan.

And…

The "VEG" dip contains eggs AND milk (AND honey) so "VEG" can't mean vegan.

The VEG dip contains eggs AND milk so “VEG” can’t mean vegan.

Could I have been mistaken in my assumption that at least one of these abbreviations was supposed to mean “vegan”? Is it possible that VN stands for Gluten-Free? Or that VEG means there’s no nuts? Because how else to explain this?

And did you ever try to contact Whole Foods to tell them about a problem? Ha! Their website is set up so that you can only send your complaint/compliment to a local store. You can’t send a complaint to a national customer service center, even though one exists, at their corporate headquarters in Austin. The problem though, is that the local stores NEVER respond to your email. Not unless you sleuth out the number for the corporate headquarters, get the switchboard to transfer you to their customer service center, and then mention that the local store never responded. Then about an hour later you get an email from the local store manager — sorry, “team leader” — pretending that they just got your email a minute ago and answered it rather than a week ago and ignored it.

And certainly don’t bother sending an email to the head honcho John Mackey. “Mr. Mackey automatically forwards any emails he receives to customer service.” Well, of course. Why would he ever read an email from a customer let alone respond to one. Only an idiot like Steve Jobs would have done something like that!

But maybe I’ll try to contact them anyway, because I’ve got a solution. Stick a “T” in your vegetarian abbreviation, like VGT, or VTN, you know, BECAUSE THERE’S NO “T” IN VEGAN. That way people can tell the two apart, you know, ASSUMING WHOLE FOODS TAKES THE MILK OUT OF THE ONE THAT’S SUPPOSED TO BE VEGAN.

Not that the person who came up with this new secret code will do anything about it. Because I’m starting to think VEG stands for VEGETATIVE STATE.

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