Fact Check

Are These Vegan Foods Left Unsold During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Even looming food shortages are apparently not enough to prompt some consumers to try soy- and tofu-based products.

Published March 17, 2020

A photograph shows store shelves stripped of all foodstuffs except for vegan products during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic that began spreading globally in the first part of 2020 prompted runs on grocery stores and other food outlets that left many store shelves stripped bare of consumables. As social media users began sharing photographs of barren shelves to document the extent of the situation, a few delighted in posting pictures that showed a few foodstuffs left behind in otherwise empty stores — with the implication that these comestibles were so awful tasting that people were unwilling to purchase them, even in a time of crisis.

One common subject of such photographs was food identified (correctly or otherwise) as being "vegan" (i.e., containing no animal products). One particular picture of that nature was shared by multiple Facebook and Twitter users:

Although the photograph may be fairly representative of the general concept and does picture some vegan food products, it did not originate with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The earliest versions of this picture we were able to find online had been posted well over two years before the COVID-19 outbreak and dated from September 2017 — just after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas and Louisiana in August 2017 and prompted a similar run on grocery stores by residents in the storm's path:


David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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