Will ‘vegan capitalism’ save the world?
So. The topic of my conversation today. Is a little bit controversial, when. I posted, about it on social media, there was certainly quite a lot of heated, debate, so. The topic of the talk is will, vegan. Capitalism. Changed. The world first. Like to say that my background, is not one of being. A lover of capitalism. It's not even a background in business unlike, Phil who spent a lot of his working life in business, I very, much come from a social, justice background. I've, been involved in feminist, movements, queer rights movements, and of course animal advocacy, in. June 1999. I went, on the first j18. With. Anti-globalization. Anti. Capitalism, marches. This took place in London where I'm from you can tell by the accent, so. I very much come from a social, justice background. And. Next. Slide please and I've. Written, for mainstream, media, and niche media, on the topic of animal advocacy, and other social, justice issues. However. Four. Years ago I, got. Interested in entrepreneurship, and, particularly vegan, entrepreneurs, because of course I'm a consumer, of vegan products, having been vegan for 22, years, I want, to make sure that I buy vegan, products, and support vegan businesses, so, I wrote the book called vegan ventures, how to start and grow an ethical business to give people resources, on how to go about doing that I host, a podcast, called vegan business, talk where, I interview amazing. Vegan entrepreneurs. From around the world on their challenges, and their, success strategies, so I very much became, immersed in this world and what I've seen happen over the last four years as I'm sure you all have is, that. A lot of multinational. Corporations. And mainstream, companies are jumping, on the vegan or the plant-based bandwagon. They're either buying, vegan, businesses, they're investing, in vegan businesses, or they're, bringing out vegan. Or plant-based products. Of their own so. What I'm gonna do in my talk today is talk a little bit up about the pros and cons of this what it means for the vegan movement. Let's. Start with the downsides, I always like to my talks on an up note so, we'll start with, some of the downsides, one, of the criticisms, that I've seen come about is. That particularly, when vegans, and activist, animal activists, rush, into these companies, and buy, these products. It's, supporting. And giving a certain kind of legitimacy, to, these companies, and look this is a fair criticism and, I don't really have a lot of come back to that particular one. The. Other argument I've seen is that companies.
That Bring out plant-based products, when they see the sales of those products, go up they, might use the sales of those plant-based, products and siphon. It over and use it to prop up the sales of their animal-based ones now, that may be a valid criticism but. If you think about it and you know films a businessman, you'll be interesting to see what what he might make of it if you're a business, person and you see that one part of your business is doing really well and the other part is not doing so well it, would make sense to actually put your profits, more into. The one that's actually doing well in this case the plant-based ones. Oops. Oh no, just go back one and. This is a quote from Nestle, now, I am from I'm not in any way holding. Up Nestle, as any kind of paragon, of virtue as, a company, we all know about you know they publicly, been, found, to have awful of breaches of human rights animal rights and the planet but I thought this was interesting they recently announced they were considering, dropping one of their animal based shock putri brands and instead, funneling, money into plant based products, and this is a quote from Nestle CEO, and he says it shows how we are positioning, the company, towards. What is benefiting. From higher growth, so. I think that's evidence, of smart, companies, saying okay the plant based products are making more money let's, put more money into those and produce more of those, so. Another company, Tyson, Tyson. Is one of the biggest meat producers. In. The US but. It's recently, rebrand. It'll repositioned, itself as a protein, company, in other words it's not wedded, to being, a meat and animal meat, company, they've seen the developments, in plant-based meats and also. I think lab-grown meat which, is our another topic but they, are not interested, in just. Being an animal-based, meat, producer, particularly, if it's not going to be good for business so they've rebranded, as a protein, company, so I think those are two examples, of we practically, not, have to worry that because. A company brings out a plant-based product, that they're going to use the sales of that to, help support the sales of the animal-based ones one, of the criticisms, actually. And other of the criticisms, is that when. People are buying the plant-based or the vegan products from the multinational, corporations, it's basically, giving, more money and, more customers, to otherwise, unethical. Companies, now again that is a fairly, valid, criticism. And in, fact next, slide please Burger. King did, report recently in the US there was a lot of hype over the impossible, burger which is the plant-based burger, the impossible, whopper that, amid all that hi burger. King did actually see. Increased, sales of, their traditional, beef whopper so, it is a potentially. A potential. Fair, point next, slide now a friend of mine who's a blogger in the UK some of you may know him his name's Sean and, he blogs his fat gay vegan, and he. Actually wrote an interesting blog post where he was looking at some of these issues and he said that perhaps has vegan, activist, what we need to be doing is for.
Every Time these companies add a plant-based, option. Get them to take an animal-based option. Off the menu, which is an interesting thought. Next. Slide, now. I recently had a chance to meet Jack Cowen, the founder, of Hungry Jack's as a media, launch for a new plant-based. Protein. Called v2, foods so, I went from the media launch and Jack was just across the room, I got there quite early there wasn't many people there so like any good animal, activist, I thought I'll take my chances, I'll go over and I will introduce myself to, him so, I went over I said hello jack my name's Katrina Fox I'm the founder of vegan business media can I ask you a question, he said yeah sure so. I said to him look hungry Jack's is bringing. Out a vegan, whopper, I should add, the, parent, company of Hungry Jacks competitive, foods Australia, provided, seed funding, for this new plant based protein, v2, and also CSIRO. Government department was involved in it so I said to Jack okay you've got this plant-based, vegan whopper. On your menu will you consider taking some animal products off the menu to save the planet I didn't. Talk about animals, or animals sufferings I thought climate, change is a bit of a hot buzzword you know it might resonate with him and this was his response. He. Said no we're, not there yet we're, not missionaries. You. Know we're, not here to save the world this is business we, want to make money we want to have additional, customers, we want vegans, coming, in who haven't previously been able to come in we want the vegetarians. In as well as the meat eaters. So. They have something for everyone now of course initially, as an animal activist, I was a bit disappointed but, what do you think I'm going to throw this out to you what do you think the most important, word up, there in Jack's response is anyone. Loud. It's. An interesting one there's one word it's. An interesting one. The. Word is yet, he. Said we're not there yet. In other words they're not ruling it out okay. So I took heart from that also, at that launch when Jack gave his talk he. Said that even he was fooled in a taste test between, the v2, I think it was their plant-based, beef and then, he taste tested animal-based beef, and Jack is from an animal but an animal farming, background, he thought that the v2 plant-based, beef was animal so that's quite interesting, and a game-changer, also, at the launch was the Minister Karen Andrews the Minister for industry Science and Technology she, announced to everyone that she was, a committed, carnivore. Not. Just any old carnival a committed. Carnivore, now, I did look to see if she had a tail and a mane and I couldn't see one but whatever. But. What was interesting that even she said they, had a lot of firm dishes, out they all had the v2 plant-based meat in it one of them was a kofta, dish and she said. If I didn't know otherwise I would have thought I just, a lamb kofta, so, I think this is really interesting we're. In kind of quite quite interesting times, but even these people, who are so invested, in the meat industries, are. Starting, to have. Little awakenings, and realize that this plant-based, thing this plant-based, vegan trend, it's going nowhere because. It's the right thing to do, now, another criticism that, I've, seen. Come. About, as to particularly, when these companies buy. A bring, out their own vegan products, it's taking money away from ethical. Vegan, businesses, now again that is a valid argument first I would say to this is that vegan, business owners cannot, rest on their laurels you've, got to continue to be innovative to. Be more creative bring, out products that these mainstream guys, cannot.
Yet Compete, with piss-weak, an independent, ethical business owners at the moment, cannot, compete, on price because. You're not producing, in a mass-market way so you've got to try and compete in other ways the allergy market, for example, I know in the UK one of the UK's, largest and. Oldest, rather vegan. Chocolate and dairy. Companies, have, made, good inroads in the allergy, market, and, apparently I found out yesterday my friend just in oh I can see is here from vegan style told, me apparently there is an allergy market, growing in fashion, as well people are allergic to certain things in, leather which. Is awesome. So let's hope more people get allergic to leather. But. Also, I think. You're. Not the only big and shoe store in town anymore you're not the only vegan cheese in town so you've got to be more creative and, innovative so, I think there are ways that vegan business owners can stand apart also, tapping into customers, who not only want to buy a nice plant, based product, or a nice vegan, product but they actually care who is making it they actually care about the company and their ethics. Now. For the positives as I said I like to, lead. A lead on an up, point I put them all together look at the end of the day these. Big multinational. Corporations. They've all got more resources, more money. More staff more, advertising. And, it got more distribution, and sales channels, and what that means is that there. Is potential, for far greater reach, of vegan, products, both physically, so they're not just in your trendy health stores in the inner city but they are everywhere, they're in the the big places the supermarkets. And the suburbs where where people can buy them and they also can become more accessible financially. Because, these large companies can, compete on price and, make the cost of vegan products, lower, so, I know it's a bit of an ethical trade-off, it's a bit of an ethical dilemma I think for us as animal activists, because this is unprecedented these. Multinational. Corporations. In the past have, never been concerned about vegans. Or veganism, so the very fact that they're taking this seriously, I think is really quite exciting, so I think we're in a little bit of a transitionary. Period. Just, to give you a couple of examples of that so field, roast is a, popular. Vegan, Canadian plant-based, meat company, they were required last year by Maple, Leaf Foods one of Canada's, largest meat. Producers, they experienced. In just the past 12, months an 81. Percent year-on-year. Sales. Of their products since being acquired, sweet. Earth another very popular vegan. Brand, got. Acquired by Nestle and. They. What they've done is they've made use of Nestle's. Distribution. Networks, to, get their product, sold in thousands. More stores, so, again it is it's. A bit of an ethical dilemma and a challenge, but we can't deny the fact that there are these positives. I've. Said this before I think I've said it on this stage before I've said it in many many talks and in Elliott many other places we must make it easy as possible, for, people to, choose a vegan product, or service. We have to. We. Are not the norm I'll. Give an example when. I first went vegan 22. Years ago living, still living in the UK what. An one of my favorite, before I went vegan one of my favorite, snacks was, a British Twix, those of you don't know what that is it's basically two fingers, with caramel, and cookie covered in chocolate I loved it so I pulled up to the petrol, filled, up my car with petrol, or gas if than the Americans in the room went to pay and you know how at the till they have all the Suites there and I was standing in the queue and I could see a Twix remember not long been vegan and I'll see it all my god there's a trick so I thought I love Twix oh I really want the Twix oh my god I can't have Twix anymore but then what I did in my head because, I've been involved in animal activism I then remembered that. The. Twix was a result of beautiful, sweet cows being, hooked up to milking machines, getting. Mastitis, from, infected, others being, there hoping female. Reproductive. Systems, being hijacked, to, produce milk, for their butt meant for their babies, that we steal that we don't need and then their babies get stolen then, I remembered as well there was a bit of blood and pus in, there so the Twix suddenly, looked very different and I didn't want it anymore, but. The. Majority, of people are not gonna do that right. We are not the norm I am special, I wear, vegan, glitter boots okay. From. Vegan style I should say here in Melbourne. So, we're not the norm we have to remember that as animal activists, I know that we get very carried away and when we see the light we, think immediately, everybody.
Else As soon as they know about the atrocities going, on that. They're going to immediately become vegans, and they'll go with out rather, than choose a meat based product the majority, of people won't so we must make it easy for them to go vegan and to choose vegan. Now. The good news is that more, and more people who, describe, themselves as, meat lovers, are becoming more open to, plant-based, alternatives. So, this is an event that I was at earlier this year in, Sydney it was part of the good food festival, and it, was a vegan Cajun. And Creole event, so all the food provided, was. By a vegan, chef our base chef. Shannen. Martinez, from. Smith & Daughters and Smith, in deli in Melbourne, and there was a big brass band, and it, was amazing array, of delicious food, now, I went, along on my own and I, was seated on a table with these two women so, they're both friends the one in them they door describes, herself as vegetarian. And aiming to be vegan and the. One on the left is he looking, said. That she, said to me oh look I'm sorry but I'm a big. Meat lover so, I said so well can I ask you a question and. She said yes so I said if you, could, eat meat. Or if you could eat a product that tasted, like meat looked, like me smelled, like animal-based, meat, sizzled. Felt. Like, literally, mimicked animal-based meat, in in every way would, you eat it but was made of plants would you eat it and she said yeah I would and then she said to me I really. Love ribs, should. If you can, replicate. The. Whole experience, of eating ribs in a vegan way I'd, be really open, to that so. I think we can take heart from that that. People really are becoming. Much. More open, to to. Eating these plant-based, analogues. That really mimic, animal-based. Meats. Now. I might be being optimistic but I like to think that if we, can show these large, multinational. Corporations, that acting, in an ethical, manner means. Profits. For them then, they, will move towards, of. Creating. Animal free products, and products that are are ethically made, at. The end of the day money talks, and I, think this is going to be really important, for us to continue.
To, Educate the public to keep, up the drive in the, sales of plant-based. Products. Plant-based, meats dairy products. And another products of course so, I think that's the way we're going to do it because if they can then say oh okay, people want to buy ethically made products, this is where our sales are let's. Invest more money in that and hopefully phase out their animal-based products. Now. We're already seeing that happening, to, some degree in the, US for example, Elmhurst. Dairy in New York which, was the one of the East Coast's largest. Dairy producers. I saw, its profits go down the business wasn't really working and, so they, closed the entire animal-based. Dairy. Farming. Practices, and switched. To creating. Only plant-based. Beverages. And then, just this year, 2019. I don't know if I'm gonna pronounce this right guac on that C dairy in California. Which is one of California's. Largest. Dairy. Producers. Has announced that it too is going to close down and instead. Shift, to nut, based farming. So, we're starting to see this happen, which is fantastic. So. Right now I think we need a combination of both we, need of course ethical, independent. Vegan, businesses, and we, also need, the multinational. Corporations. I think we're in a transitionary. Period where. Vegan. And plant-based, products have, really taken, off so. I think, we need both at the moment, to to. Continue that growth. Ultimately. Though of course we, want to scale up vegan, companies, we, want them money flowing, into, ethical. Vegan, owned, companies. And. We're. Seeing that happening, now I think it's really exciting there. Are now a whole, range of, vegan. And vegan friendly investors. Who really, want to support vegan, and plant-based businesses. If you go to vegan, business media, website, which is vegan business, mediacom, there's a blog post on there called how to find, an investor for your vegan business, and, I've got a whole list of vegan, and vegan friendly investors. Including. The types of businesses, they're interested, in investing, in and how, to pitch, them now, I'm just going to highlight a couple of, those in the middle top here, we've. Got Eliseo Rob and, Alisa. Has, created an organization called. Vegan investors. And. They run regular, online, virtual, pitch, events, and what, I really like about Alissa, is, that, she's very keen, to. To. Invest in businesses, that are run by women and also, people from other backgrounds who've been traditionally, overlooked. By. Investors. Such as people of color, and gender, diverse people, but, she's really interested, and keen to support businesses. Vegan, businesses, that are going to have a massive, impact. Because. She wants to create help to create that big an economy, and next, to her as well we have got Claire. Smith now. Claire. Created. With her team created, the world's, first vegan, exchange-traded. Fund, which launched, on the New York Stock Exchange earlier. This year and. Claire. Also, is going to be launching in 2020. The beyond animal. Platform. Which is an integrated, digital, platform, that's, designed to. Create. And support a vegan, economy, so, there's some really exciting things happening. In this space and it's fantastic to see money flowing into, ethical. Vegan companies, so, I think it's a time to be positive. Regardless. Of what your thoughts are around capitalism. And as I've said it's, not a perfect, system but, it's what we've got right now and, I think it's important, to make the most of that work as ethically, as possible, and get. That money flowing into, vegan. Companies, and getting, vegan, products, and services, out to the masses, that's. Going to be the way that we create, a vegan world. You.