By Ghanim al-Sulaiti
2019 has been labelled the ‘Year of the Vegan’ – and the plant-based industry is growing faster than ever before. This week in the US, a new vegan-themed exchange-traded fund has hit the New York Stock Exchange, trading under the name US Vegan Climate (VEGN).
According to a report from GlobalData, the number of US consumers being identifyed as vegan grew over 600% in a three-year period. This is why the company, known as Beyond Investing, has launched a vegan and cruelty-free investment platform on the world’s most famous stock market, giving everyone the chance to invest ethically, and sustainably. It excludes all companies engaged in animal exploitation, defence, human rights abuses, fossil fuels extraction and energy production, and other environmentally damaging activities – and instead means that obtaining shares, buying or selling in ‘US Vegan Climate (VEGN)’ is a vegan way of trading.
The company says it seeks to provide market-capitalisation to US companies that satisfy its rigorous vegan standards, and will attempt to ensure that companies in the group do not harm animals, and are not involved in animal testing, animal-derived products, or animals in sports or entertainment.
While I think it will be difficult to guarantee vegan, ethical activity across multiple businesses, it’s encouraging to see investor interest in socially responsible themes such as veganism rising. Increasingly, more and more people want to know the ethics and morals of businesses they are involved with.
In fact, companies worldwide are tapping into the vegan market in order to be a part of the growing number of people opting to eat plant-based. This year, Burger King across US introduced a plant-based meat burger produced by Impossible Foods. The fast-food chain reported a sales rise of 28% in April, the same month the Impossible Whopper joined the Burger King menu. Burger King also said that the number of brand new customers dining at its restaurants increased by 15 percent in April. In Australia, ‘Hungry Jacks’ the fast food burger franchise launched its Vegan Cheeseburger in 2018. What happened? They reported a 50% increase in meat-free food sales.
When fried chicken giant KFC added its first vegan burger option in the UK, it sold out in four days. The meat-free sandwich, called the Imposter Burger, sold 500% more than the average new product.
The great news? It’s not just the restaurants that want to be a part of our ethical way of life. British fashion giant Topshop launched its first vegan shoe range in April. The cruelty-free leather shoes, which are handmade in Spain, are approved by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the largest animal rights organisation in the world.
Footwear and clothing brand Dr Martens now offer vegan versions of its popular boot. The cruelty-free option has helped the company almost triple its revenues from £160mn in 2013 to £454mn in 2019, and Dr Martens CEO Kenny Wilson told media that its vegan range is growing at “multiple hundreds of percent.”
The author is an expert in vegan wellbeing and health. Instagram handle: @Ghanim92
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