Vegan cheese brand Daiya has been accused of 'betraying its ethics and core values' following announcement of its sale to Japanese pharmaceutical company Otsuka.
The Canadian company, which was acquired for a staggering $325.5 million, has come under fire via petition on change.org, started by 'Keep Veganism Vegan'.
According to the petitioner, the campaign was launched because of Otsuka's position on animal testing, saying: "Otsuka is a known pharmaceutical and nutraceutical company that uses animals in it laboratory testing, as well as in its research and development."
Otsuka's own website says: "Use of laboratory animals in some areas of drug development is still necessary in order to validate the efficacy and safety of potential drug candidates prior to use in humans.
"For testing of Otsuka's non-drug product candidates, laboratory animals are used occasionally, and only when necessary."
'A stunning blow'
The petition describes the sale of Daiya as a 'stunning blow to the people who thought Daiya's values did not include animal testing'.
It says: "What Daiya has now shown us is that anyone can be bought; they too had a price point where the torture and suffering of animals is acceptable, so long as they stand to make much more money for themselves.
"This is not the company we trusted. This is not the company we supported. This is not the company we helped succeed.
"This, should they go ahead with this partnership, is not the company that we believe in anymore."
The petition asks Daiya not to go ahead with the sale, saying: "We think that rejecting animal testing is more important than cashing in on the market for plant-based foods by companies that are only interested in serving this community because of the dollars in our wallets."
At the time of writing, the petition had almost 4,000 signatories, with a target of 5,000.
A number of people gave reasons for their signature, with Texas-based Renee Talamentes saying: "I'm signing because I am a loyal customer of Daiya products and believe that partnering with Otsuka contradicts the core values of a vegan lifestyle.
"If this partnership continues, I can no longer support and be a customer of the Daiya company."
Plant Based News has contacted a Daiya representative for comment. This story will be updated as further information is received.