Guest post from freelancer writer Gergana Mileva.Veganism’s surging popularity is now a global phenomenon. Big chains such as Marks & Spencer, Pret a Manger, and Pizza Hut are introducing a wide range of vegan options to their loyal patrons. Others are taking the plunge into veganism. Guinness, for example, decided to stop using fish bladders in their brewing process, after two and a half centuries of carrying out this practice.
While the traditional food industry is still trying to catch up, new competitors are also entering the market. All sorts of business startups and YouTube channels are supporting this movement and encouraging more and more people to embrace the plant-based lifestyle. So, what does this mean for the plant-based market?
Is 2019 the year of mainstream veganism?
I’ve asked some experts on vegan initiatives to shed some light on the future of this industry. Here, you will discover why the vegan market is worth investing in this coming year.
Claire Smith, CIO of Beyond Impact Advisors
Founder of Beyond Impact Advisors, Claire Smith is a vegan, an environmentalist, and an entrepreneur with 33 years of experience in finance and investment. She created a platform that empowers companies whose products contain vegan, cruelty-free, and plant-based alternatives instead of animal-derived material. Smith has been investing in sustainable consumer products since 2017.
I caught up with the amazing woman behind Beyond Impact Advisors to find out about the future of the vegan industry and why vegan businesses are worth investing in this 2019.
“In terms of opportunities in the vegan market, I have been conscious of the rising trend towards adopting plant-based diets since 2015,” she admitted. Initially, she created companies in food and accessories. The longer she worked in these industries, the more she realized that she had the potential to expand the vegan trend.
And so she did.
She started investing her own time and money to move the vegan market forward by empowering cruelty-free and eco-friendly companies to grow to scale.
Smith says that we have so much potential to diminish the exploitation of animals in products and services. By embracing alternative ingredients or methods, we can put an end to animal testing and animal-derived ingredients. Apart from practicing sustainable consumption, there are other ways of showing support for the vegan lifestyle. Technology, media, hospitality, and financial services, she says, are some of the areas where we can promote veganism.
Another factor that often encourages people to pursue a vegan lifestyle is a circular economy, where we maximize the use of plants. Smith is confident that we can improve the economics of plant-based businesses if we make better use of all plant parts instead of utilizing one part and discarding the rest or feeding them to animals, which, according to her, only provides an effective subsidy to animal agriculture.
When I asked about vegan investment opportunities in 2019, she said, “The timing is right for investing in alternatives to animal use since recent years have seen an explosion of expertise, within data analytics and machine learning for selection of plant properties, and within tissue engineering, cell culture, and bioprinting to enable the development of cellular agriculture, as well as synthetic biology directly producing those molecules that were formerly only created by living organisms.”
Smith believes that our effort to perfect these burgeoning technologies and reduce the cost of inputs would increase vegan products’ competitiveness against animal-derived items within three to five years. We could even save billions of animals in the process.
She also told me, “Concerns over climate change, environmental pollution, water shortage, as well as health risks of zoonotic diseases and ineffectiveness of antibiotics, are propelling governments to encourage the public to change their consumption habits and reduce the planetary load.”
With the World Health Organization labeling processed meat as a carcinogen, making it as unhealthy as a cigarette, Smith says that meat taxes and the removal of subsidies won’t be a distant prospect. Of course, that will be great for the future of the market. “Governmental support is critical in respect of novel foods legislation and approvals of cellular agriculture, especially in the face of opposition from vested interests.”