Update 3/21: After the publication of this post, Baileys announced their original formulation contained beeswax – which would not make the product vegan – however, the company has since released an all vegan version, read about it here. 

Great news, Green Monsters, if you like your cocktails creamy, things are about to get a whole lot easier. Baileys, famous for their coffee-flavored liqueur, has just introduced an entirely new vegan liqueur made from almond milk! Yup, you heard that right, now you can make all of the Irish Car Bombs and White Russians you want!  The new product, “Almande,” blends the nutty flavor of almond milk with real vanilla to create a deliciously creamy and incredibly versatile drink.

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So, why has Baileys decided to launch this product suddenly? Well, while the company hasn’t issued an official statement revealing the motivation for their decision, but just one look at the booming plant-based food and beverage sector should give you an inkling. Currently at $3.5 billion with an 8.7 percent growth rate, the plant-based food industry is the sector to invest in nowadays. And, unsurprisingly we are seeing more companies jump on the bandwagon every month.

Considering Baileys is already known for their creamy drinks and simply had to sub out regular milk for almond to make this product, it was kind of a no-brainer. Plus, the company is also clearly capitalizing on the recent shift in consumers attitudes toward their foods and beverages. While in the past, soda and sugary drinks reigned supreme, nowadays people want foods and drinks they can feel good about putting in their body. Of course, alcohol is not exactly a kale smoothie, but the fact of the matter is that for people, alcohol is an indulgence regardless of the diet they follow on a day-to-day basis. And if they’re going to indulge anyway, at least this cocktail is healthier than say, a strawberry daiquiri or a Red Bull Vodka.

Of course, Bailey’s is also appealing to the allergen-prone consumer as well as people who are generally trying to leave dairy out of their routine. And with 36 percent of consumers actually preferring milk alternatives, catering to this type of consumer is not just considerate, it’s a smart business move.

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At the surface, this may not seem like the most groundbreaking launch in terms of vegan products, but in many ways it is.

As Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder of One Green Planet has said, “A whole new food ecosystem is rising, driven by companies that are not only responding to consumer demand by offering more plant-based options but are in fact accelerating this shift in food habits by introducing innovative new products to the market. The first page in the story that will propel us into the future of food, dominated by sustainable, plant-based products is being written today.”

Bailey’s and Ben & Jerry’s, who launched their vegan ice cream products last year, are huge companies. They make enough money that, if they really wanted to, they could completely ignore the demand for dairy-free products, and probably do just fine. However, the fact that they do see an opportunity in this market and they realize that to ignore this market would be to ignore a new wave of consumers is incredibly important. If we are going to reshape the food system, we need to hit every market, from health food right down to indulgences like alcohol.

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Image source: Baileys