In 2015, the revenue of Hampton Creek, a startup from San Francisco selling plant-based food, increased by 350% (1) . In 2014, the sales of Beyond Meat, another company manufacturing vegan substitutes for products of animal origin, increased by 250%. Cruelty-free, healthy, affordable and tasty food appears to be not only a matter of moral concern but also an idea for a thriving business.
Hampton Creek - Beyond Eggs
In 2013, along with Beyond Meat and Nu-Tec Food Science, Hampton Creek was listed by Bill Gates in his Future of Food as a company that provides healthy plant-based alternatives for meat and dairy products. Li Ka-shing, Jerry Yang and Khosla Ventures also believed and even invested in Hampton Creek's project, Beyond Eggs. The idea of this project was to find the right mix of plants that are easy to cultivate, and combined together in the form of powder would imitate the taste and flavour of eggs. Beyond Eggs was hoped to be a cheaper, cholesterol- and gluten-free healthy replacement for eggs in products such as mayonnaise and cookies. The company now sells their Just Mayo, Just Cookie Dough, and other cookies and dressings in the biggest American supermarkets, chain stores and discount retailers such as Target, Walmart and Kroger. They're constantly developing and working on other products, e.g. in 2016 they may release Just Scrambled (an egg-free substitute of scrambled eggs).
This is a Polish startup that sells plant-based alternatives for such meat products as sausages, bacon and roasted meat. This meatless butchers also offers plant-based mayonnaise, lard and barbecue sauce. They managed to start their business from money raised via the Internet. People who wanted to support their project chose one of three options of donation and received a bonus for their help (products or future discounts). In a relatively short amount of time, Vegan Baczer gained popularity in Poland and they discussed their idea in media, gave press and radio interviews, abd presented their products at the Care Conference 2016. Their vegan meat-like products may not taste exactly like their meat counterparts but they’re very similar (for me, even better).
Supermeat - non-vegan but cruelty-free
This company works on chicken-cultured meat products made from animal cells. Supermeat is now collecting money for mass production of its invention. If they get what they need, cultured meat will start to be produced in factories. They also aim to manufacture their product cheaper than traditional meat. If cultured meat supplants its non-cruelty-free counterpart, it has a chance to become an affordable and sustainable source of food. It may not only become the vegan alternative for meat but may also be the solution to hunger or malnutrition in underdeveloped countries.
With Supermeat’s method, meat is created from small stem cell samples taken from a chicken. These cells are incubated in a media rich in nutrients which help them to grow and divide, then with the aid of scaffolds and technology, muscle and fat tissues are made. The outcome is biologically the same meat that comes from chickens. From the perspective of ethics, environment and our own health, cultured meat production is better that the conventional ways of obtaining meat. In contrast to farming, animals are not involved in the process – they are neither slaughtered nor harmed through fattening, mutilating, forced fertilization, etc. For people who do not eat meat for ethical reasons (such as the belief that abusing and killing sentient beings is immoral), cultured meat may be an appealing alternative. It’s also environmental friendly in contrast to conventional meat production – it causes no detrimental effects on the environment like deforestation, air pollution, water and energy waste, etc. Cultured meat may also be better for our health, for instance it may be produced fat-free or with reduced fat and it does not come from animals stuffed with antibiotics or suffering from a pandemic disease.
This Polish company produces vegan cheese alternatives that are made from natural ingredients such as soya, coconut oil and cashews. Just like the above-mentioned companies, Serotonina does its best to produce food that is not only vegan but also healthy – without preservatives or unnecessary additives. Their products are variations on traditional kinds of cheese, for instance Gorgon with blue and green spirulina veins is based on gorgonzola, and sweet and sour Czader Almondo with roasted almonds is based on cheddar. Serotonina’s products can be found at food festivals and in health food stores, and it also cooperates with restaurants and pizzerias. Similar businesses are Vromage from Los Angeles, a company selling vegan cheese made from nuts and seeds, and Riverdel in New York, a shop with a fine selection of vegan cheese and other vegan gourmet products.
Zmiany Zmiany (Changes Changes)
Again, a Polish company and again food that is both healthy and tasty. Zmiany Zmiany produces vegan and gluten-free nutrition bars without any additives, sugar, sweeteners, syrups or unhealthy fat. The bars are sold in various local shops and health food stores in most Polish cities. As its owners say,
All of this started from a shared idea. We value good quality products of plant origin. We like healthy snacks. We were looking for something for us. At that time in Poland nobody made similar products and imported bars appeared in shops rather irregularly. We started up, we made it, and we’re still doing it.
When it comes to the future of vegan startups, Zmiany Zmiany thinks that:
From a business point of view, it’s a branch that is well-developing and interesting for investments. Not only do people from the vegan community (who want to combine their world perspective with work) think so but also people who are just entrepreneurial. This trend is proved by the better supplied store chains and the recently growing number of vegan shops, bars, restaurants and ice cream parlors. We hope that it’s an upward trend and keep our fingers crossed for every new initiative that promotes a healthy and ethical attitude to the surrounding world.