A new era of vegan founders has been born. Some have created successful vegan brands with big profits, while others are pursuing social justice in the food industry and beyond.
Many people have been conditioned to eat meat, fish, and dairy in their diets, but veganism has a unique appeal for some because it’s not only cruelty-free, but it’s also environmentally friendly. That’s why there are many vegan companies out there that are committed to creating a more sustainable planet. Some have even aimed to make veganism the norm instead of the exception.
New conferences and summits about plant-based products have emerged in recent years. Those became a great place for vegan founders to meet other entrepreneurs.
VEGPRENEUR is an online community that helps connect plant-based entrepreneurs and investors. The Animal & Vegan Advocacy (AVA) Summit is a gathering of various experts and speakers from across the animal advocacy sector and will help accelerate systemic change for animals and the environment. Vegan Women Summit is bringing compassionate female leaders to build a kinder, more sustainable world.
The vegan Founder Carina Ayden is an environmentalist, animal rights advocate, and serial entrepreneur. Her recent venture is Unimaginable Foods – a vegan food company that is committed to future-proof everyone’s favorite snacks and building resilience into our food system.
What inspired you to become vegan?
The health benefits of a plant-based diet are scientifically proven; the environmental footprint of a vegan diet is incomparably lower than that of unsustainable animal agriculture. Yet, I became vegan for ethical reasons. I don’t believe in cruelty and will not be paying in perpetuity for the suffering of animal persons. Also, it just makes sense from the point of sustainability and human life: how do we sustain human civilization on Earth when most of the resources we use today are finite, and the pollution levels are reaching the ultimate height? The answer is to stop placing humans at the center of the natural world. We are a spec, a tiny part of the larger ecosystem upon which we depend on. This will allow us to live in a cleaner, less polluted world where more nutritious food will become more accessible and abundant.
What made you start this company?
I’m obsessed with healthy snacks, and there was a white space in the particular snack categories that I wanted to innovate. Even though I’m a foodie, I’m not interested in just making another delicious cookie or a loaf of bread. There are plenty of tasty things out there already. I look at everything that I do from a place of “how can we innovate the old wheel without having people change their habits”?
What would you want the general public to know about animal agriculture?
Besides the extreme cruelty, and horrors of industrial animal farming, which so many people don’t want to think of know about, I want everyone to know that it’s a fundamentally colonial way of thinking. It’s a modern-day slavery for another living person who has the right to live and not suffer.
For some these beliefs are ‘radical’ – for me, the pillars of who I am.
Besides the heinous, filthy conditions animals spend their short lives trapped in factory farming, this industry is one of the leading polluters in the world. It degrades the environment and pollutes the waterways and groundwater with toxic elements like antibiotics, pathogens, and waste materials.
Environmental degradation has become so politicized, which further confuses people. To grasp the complex system failure when you are within this system is complicated. Most of us don’t know our neighbors and I want people to think globally and be concerned about what happens on the other continent or the country. Unless pollution is visible or already causes illnesses, people are challenged to be mugged into thinking ‘large scale.’
Ultimately, we should be the guardians of our nature and environment because every part of the ecosystem is connected.
The cleaner and more compassionate world is the only world in which we humans have longevity.
Who are the vegan CEOs you admire?
The Founder of the tastiest plant-based cheeses Miyoko Shniier is the most excellent woman I ever met. Once I met her at the gathering of the Plant Based Food Association (PBFA) during the Expo West and then at the Animal Rights Conference in Los Angeles. The first vegan co-founder I ever met was the Beyond Meat co-Founder in 2014. I admire a few more wonderful leaders, and I also love their products. But Miyoko left an impression of a gentle powerhouse.
What does your ideal food brand look like and what drives you the most in what you do?
100% vegan. 100% circular.
I do it for people like myself, for those who want to live healthy and sustainable lifestyles. Also, it has to do with energy. My energy level is always high thanks to my diet, and I want to keep it that way for as long as possible.