A Yogurt Maker Goes Vegan?

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted July 08, 2019

After a century as a maker of yogurt and probiotic drinks, Danone SA, a Paris-based company best known in the United States for its Danon and Activia brands, is going vegan.

Well, sort of.

“There is a huge trend of people moving to less animal protein and more vegetable protein. This is across the regions where we operate—in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and Latin America,” CEO Emmanuel Faber told Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper. “We believe that this flexibility in diets is fundamental for the future, for the health of people and also for the health of the planet.”

What does that mean for Danone? Spending money, for one thing: In 2017, the multinational firm spent $10 billion to acquire WhiteWave Foods, an American company whose Silk brand of soy- and almond-based milks are popular. Faber, 55 years old, conceded there was a profit motive behind the move.

No Sustainable Food System?

“We are more and more convinced that there will not be a sustainable food system if it doesn’t help both the planet and people,” Faber noted during a visit to Vancouver, Canada, for an industry forum. “The quest that we have as a global company is to find this sweet spot where you find sustainable diets and sustainable agriculture. This is driving the strategy and drove the choice that we made to buy WhiteWave.”

Faber declared, “When we speak about the food revolution, it’s happening because people are basically activists themselves. You can vote for the world in which you want to live each time you eat and drink.”

Making the switch toward more sustainable sources of food and packaging is a “big and tough transformation” for a company so heavily associated with products from cow’s milk, Faber said. Yet, he added, “The biggest risk that I think we face as a species is the lack of biodiversity of the ingredients, seeds, and animals that are used to make our food,” so the moves are necessary ones.

Danone will still make the majority of its products the way it has for a century, and there’s no immediate sign that animal-based products are going away any time soon. But the very fact that a CEO such as Faber is not only aware of the changes in the market but also is putting big bucks behind those changes is a telling sign that wasn’t apparent just ten years ago.

Diet Reform’s Bible Roots

The history of dietary reform is a long one, and it points back to instructions found in your Bible. More than 150 years ago, a woman named Ellen White received a spiritual message concerning health reform. This divine counsel pointed her back to Genesis 1:29: “I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.”

That message of plant-based eating would change the way the world eats breakfast. Instead of steak the first thing in the morning, cereal was the day’s starting meal. The Battle Creek Sanitarium, opened at White’s suggestion and run for years by John Harvey Kellogg, created many other plant-based meals and staples. The famous and the unknown flocked to “the san” for its health-restoring programs.

While a plant-based lifestyle was seen as “faddish” by many during the twentieth century, a new age of responsible living has taken root. So much scientific evidence has been accumulated about the benefits of healthy living—particularly the “Blue Zones” study linking active, healthy longevity to better diet and the work of Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. showing that a plant-based diet can reverse cardiovascular disease—that it’s impossible to ignore.

Would You Do It?

Even though the price of gasoline goes up and down, few sensible people would consider pumping tap water into a car’s gas tank. Water is abundant, but it’s just not the fuel a gas-powered car needs to run.

At the same time, many of us are doing the same sort of thing with our bodies. Despite having an “instruction manual” from our Maker—the Holy Bible—we persist in eating the most ridiculous things in a quest to please our palates, without much regard for the consequences.

Pastor Doug Batchelor recorded an excellent presentation on the subject of health and diet titled “You Wouldn’t Do This—Would You?” It’s available free on our website, and in less than an hour, you can have valuable insights into better living that might just save your life!

If you imagine that a plant-based diet would be boring, check out our article on “God’s Healing Rainbow” in which writer and food expert Michelle Irwin talks about the varieties of fruits and vegetables available to us, and how they can help us have better health.

Another useful resource is a two-part presentation by Pastor Doug on “Healing, Health, and Holiness,” which takes you through a detailed explanation of God’s laws of good health and why they’re still relevant today. (Hint: Jesus didn’t die to make ham “kosher.”)

And those looking for health principles in writing are invited to download a free copy of the Amazing Health Facts! magazine, which will walk you through the steps needed to start making a difference in your life today!

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