Veganism big business 2018 - Emma Sinclair MBE | BRIGHT Zine.jpeg

Veganism is big business in 2018. I know... I am preaching to the converted! But I can’t tell you how many years I have been waiting to be able to say that.

As a child, I never really liked meat or fish unless it was sneakily disguised as something else. Like most children l ate hot dogs, chicken nuggets and the occasional McDonalds but I always insisted that the head and tail be removed when my dad ate fish. And preferably the skin too. It used to make me feel really queasy.

I went veggie at around eleven years old when my parents finally gave up trying to make me eat food I didn’t like – and vegan in my early twenties. The latter was partly initiated by health but looking back, I love that my diet aligns with my goals to leave the world in a better state than I found it.

Meat, fish, dairy and eggs are not food groups for me. But until recently, stocking supermarket shelves and filling restaurant menus with vegan food just wasn’t good business. Demand was low and veganism was niche so choices were limited.

Fast forward to 2018 and a reported 7% of the UK population identify as vegan. That’s a big market to service. I think it was seven people in total twenty years ago!

Tesco have a plant based milk fridge, Waitrose launched a dedicated vegan section and Iceland reported that sales of its plant-based food have risen by 10% over the last year. The UK market for meat-free foods is reportedly worth nearly £600m, food delivery businesses like AllPlants have received mainstream venture capital funding at scale and most good restaurants have a vegan menu. Joy!

Consumer brands are producing vegan, ethical ranges that are, importantly, a commercial success. Tesla delivered a car with non animal- based interior materials, no one misses leather or fur when they shop at Vogue loving Vaute and ASICS have a cool vegan shoe range.

Even the movie business has had wide ranging success with Forks over Knives, investigating plant based diets as a means to counter the obesity epidemic and Cowspiracy, exploring the negative impact of agricultural farming on the environment.

And micro vegan communities are starting to thrive which is critical to nurture and support the burgeoning start up community tapping into this market. From small seeds grow mighty acorns. The tiny artisan businesses of today will be the vegan giants of tomorrow.

Companies like Vevolution are doing a magnificent (and important) job of catalysing this community. Their pitch competition earlier this year, with significant funding available for vegan businesses, put the vegan start up world on the map. Participants pitched solid young businesses with loyal and growing customers that had the potential for profitability. And there were investors ready to back them.

Closer to home, Jonathan McCormack has curated the Portobello Road Vegan Night Market hosting vegan entrepreneurs like Sara Mittersteiner of Pomodoro e Basilico (simply the best burgers in the world) and Ellie Phoebe Brown of Kinda Co (the queen of vegan cheese). We talk constantly about tech incubators to host starts ups, with WeWork popping up on what feels like every street corner of every city. Let’s talk about hubs for vegan entrepreneurs too.

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I know I am preaching to the converted when I say there’s no doubt about it: The world would be a better, healthier, more sustainable place if we all ate less meat. And now it’s not just good... but it’s good business too.

P.S. #GoVegan

Written by Emma Sinclair MBE, Tech Entrepreneur


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