Monday 6 May 2019

Stop Fighting Veganism, It Has Already Won!

Take a minute to imagine you work in the procurement and product division of supermarket giant Sainsbury’s. You walk into your quarterly sales review to hear that one product has outperformed projected sales targets by 300 per cent.

The product in question? It’s the range of vegan cheeses launched in the store last year.
Shock overwhelms you: you fall off your chair, abruptly broken out of your meeting-induced slumber. Your business brain kicks in and you start frantically planning how to make more vegan products available in Sainsbury’s as soon as possible.

That’s right people: the age of veganism has dawned.

Like the tide crashing into the shore, it’s an unstoppable force. Because guess what: it’s not just Sainsbury’s experiencing this overwhelming financial success.
Just this week Italian restaurant chain Zizzi announced that sales of its vegan products have increased by a massive 150 per cent. Look at Devon-based business Tideford Organics - after 20 years of trading bosses decided a total vegan revamp was in order. The result is better product performance than ever before.

In unstable political times, the era of ‘alternative facts’, Donald Trump, and hard isolationist Brexit, the success of vegan businesses is a beacon of hope for the UK economy.

Along with Judy Nadel, I am one of the founders of Vevolution - vegan events and tech start-up. As part of my job, I regularly speak to entrepreneurs who are launching exciting vegan businesses that start turning profits almost instantly.

Restaurants likes of Temple of Hackney, Club Mexicana, Mooshies and What The Pitta are almost always at full capacity.

Cem Yildiz Co-Founder of vegan kebab shop What The Pitta recently told me: “Most of our customers tend to have become vegan in the last 12 months and a lot of that is thanks to the awareness raised on social media or Netflix, whether that’s piss-taking memes or hard-hitting documentaries.
“London has always been known for its diversity and veganism and ethical living is a growing trend amongst millennials who are eating out more than ever so it makes complete sense that the city meets the demand.”
When chain eatery Pret a Manger launched its all veggie store in London last year, CEO Clive Schlee fully expected profits for the store to fall during the pop-up. Yet sales increased considerably and the company took the decision to keep the store open permanently.
The venture capital world is also waking up to the potential of veganism. Last year New Crop Capital launched as the world’s first humane venture capital fund. And anecdotally I am hearing of investors looking for opportunities to invest in vegan businesses.
Look I get it. You might not like the idea of veganism much. I honestly used to feel the same way but once you start to look at the evidence that is supporting a societal shift towards veganism it is hard to look away.
We live in a time of tremendous environmental and social decay. Veganism affords us the opportunity to slow down climate change. Additionally, scientists have found that vegetarians and vegans generally live longer healthier lives. It’s a way to live a kinder life, and one not contributing to the 150 billion animals killed each year for food.

I consider myself to be a fairly normal person. I like football, a few drinks, and dinner with friends. I buy records and play the guitar. I am probably quite a lot like you. I just chose to stop fighting veganism and it felt good. I started running marathons, I looked healthier, ok my hair is still going grey but the point is my quality of life didn’t suffer in fact it is enhanced.

And when conservative organisations like the BBC start commissioning Newsnight pieces and films about veganism you know the issue is well and truly now in the public interest.

By choosing to eat more vegan food, or even better going fully vegan, you are choosing the winning side, the progressive side. You’re choosing the side that encourages change for the better. You’re supporting businesses that are working in a way that isn’t destructive to all elements of our society.

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