Vegan vs. Plant-based?

At the beginning of May, we witnessed one of the most successful IPOs in about 20 years. It was Beyond Meat’s debut to the NYSE, with the new shares closing the day a whopping +163% above its initial listing price. For sure what we used to call, back in my finance days, a “hot” one.

As part of the commentary surrounding the share price action, I found myself drawn into a LinkedIn debate. One of my connections was wondering why vegetarians and vegans wouldn’t just be happy with eating a mushroom burger and posed the question of why such euphoria? “If they are vegetarian, should they really be hankering after something that tastes like meat?” So that prompted me to get involved in the discussion. Last September I attended the Good Food Institute’s annual conference on plant-based meat alternatives. I was surprised to see Big Food so well-represented at the event, with their biochemists speaking on how they were using flavorings to try to replicate the taste of bbq. I too had the same thought. “Why don’t people just eat more lentils and mushrooms?” And then I understood.

This burgeoning market is not really aimed at the vegetarians or vegans, though I am sure they are buyers of convenience, but rather at the MASSIVE flexitarian market — the omnivore market — that is looking to incorporate more plant-based eating. That was the aha I felt compelled to share on LinkedIn. Plant-based eating is all the rage these days. It is the confluence of those who want to improve their health, do good for the planet, and avoid cruelty to animals. However a whole food, plant-based diet is one that predominantly focuses on health, while graciously appreciating the positive impact on the climate and on society. Many of these highly-processed meat and dairy alternatives, while being free from animal products, contain inflammatory oils, sugar, artificial flavorings and colorings, which are certainly not health supportive. A whole food, plant-based diet is not manufactured by Big Food. It is one that brings us back to real eating. It can require some prep (enter Plantable for those who need a helping hand) but rewards you in spades in terms of how you feel.