What do you think of when you hear the word IKEA? If its build-it-yourself furniture with the power to test your relationship when attempts are made to construct that queen sized bed in tandem with your partner, you’re correct. If it’s Swedish meatballs served in their cafes and frozen food sections, you’re also correct.
“How could you not see that it was the shorter, metal disc thing and not the longer metal disc thing? There was a picture right there, Laura! Geez!”
Known for the meaty dish, IKEA found itself in hot water in 2014 when news broke that their signature fare was found to contain trace amounts of horse meat. The company quickly recalled the product, which typically is a blend of both pork and beef, but backlash was heard far and wide about the gaffe.
Following closely on the heels of the scandal, the company announced that they would be rolling (heh heh, get it?) out two other kinds of meatballs to add to their menu – one chicken and one vegetarian – in an effort to provide more sustainable choices.
“The world loves IKEA meatballs,” Mona Liss, a corporate spokeswoman said at the time of the announcement. “They’re not going away. But sustainability initiatives are a cornerstone of IKEA.”
They have a point.
While excitement surrounding the concept of a sustainable, vegetarian meatball was huge, the company quickly clarified that the product would contain egg and dairy ingredients – making it an unsuitable choice for vegans. It also put a pall on the claim for sustainability, considering that products that rely on animal ingredients have a higher carbon footprint than their entirely plant-based counterparts.
Petitions were quickly set up to plead with IKEA CEO, Peter Agnefjäll, to make the vegetarian menu addition vegan friendly, with a petition from PETA garnering 25,000 signatures alone. Considering that in just 2013, IKEA sold 97.4 million of the little pork and beef blend balls, the offering’s popularity is undeniable. By providing a version that not only utilizes sustainable ingredients but also removes cruelty from the equation, IKEA would be taking a powerful step toward a future where vegan options are as ubiquitous as the little wooden dowels that hold one of their bookshelves together.
Excitingly enough, consumer voices were heard! The vegetarian Swedish Meatball will now be vegan, with a spokesperson for the company telling British activist group Viva! in a statement, ”IKEA wants to offer healthy food choices that are delicious, sustainable and affordable for the many people, based on the IKEA Swedish identity. IKEA Food is currently developing the food range to provide options that meet the many different preferences of our customers. One of the exciting new products is a Veggie ball which will be launched in our stores from April and onwards. The veggie ball does not have any animal content and is therefore also suitable for vegans.”
Brace yourselves IKEA…conscious consumers are coming.
This is a prime example of how speaking out can effect change for the world around us. Thanks to consumers like you, who voiced a preference and companies like IKEA who listened, another step can be made in the right direction. Now if we could just figure out what we did with that allen wrench…
Lead Image Credit: Munchkie