Why did I decide to go into the vegan business?

As a business owner, my first answer is, of course, financial attractiveness. There is a lot of money in this market.

In Austria vegetarian/vegan restaurant food market is currently around EUR 1 bn and grows at ~11% annually (CAGR). In Germany this number is around EUR 7.5 bn and the growth rate is ~20% per annuum. And we are talking only about strict vegetarian/vegan customer wallets here. In both Austria and Germany almost 40% of non-vegetarians say that they prefer to take a vegetarian/vegan option at a restaurant, if the option is good (this adds many more billions to the mixture, I’ll save you the details).

But regardless of the money, veganism is a future-proof business to be in. What do I mean by that? Veganism is a wave, is a hype, which is here to stay. I like to compare it with the gym and fitness wave, which appeared ~15 years ago. Remember how back then everybody in Europe started going to the gyms and now going to the gym is a common place? Back then small local gyms and fitness studios started to pop up all over the place. The market then consolidated, and a few big chain players emerged in each country. I expect the same happening with the plant-based restaurant business. Today more and more people want to eat vegan, at least a few times a week. Currently, the market is dominated by small local players (“my hipster friend with a beard opened a little vegan place, where he makes a great vegan lentil curry” type of places). However, the trend towards system gastronomy and consolidation is already here (see, for example, Copper Branch in Canada and the US).

And why is this veganism wave here to stay?

Firstly, because eating more plant-based food and less animal foods is good for your health. It is scientifically proven, and this knowledge is currently starting to reach the general public. Go to Google Scholar and search for articles on the effect of animal foods on health in peer-reviewed scientific journals (e.g. The Lancet Oncology, Annals of Internal Medicine, etc.) and you will be shocked. At least, I know I was when I did exactly this 3 years ago. Try searching for anything from “red meat” to “milk” to “eggs” and “fish”. You might not be able to fall asleep after reading this. Just make sure you go only for peer-reviewed independent scientific journals, not for “Medical Journal of the Association of the Poultry Producers of the United States” or open access self-published journals.

Secondly, veganism is great for the environment. Animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to the ongoing climate change crisis. Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than all of the world’s transportation systems combined. More and more people understand that and make a conscious choice of avoiding eating animal products because of that. At the time when even school children go out on the streets to appeal to policy makers to do something for the planet, this point doesn’t need further explanation.

Thirdly, veganism is obviously good for the animals. In our post-industrial society more and more people have a problem with industrial growing and slaughtering of the living sentient beings. More and more people cannot live with a cognitive dissonance of “oh look how cute and sweet a little piggy is” in the children’s book and later having some pork for dinner. With the unfolding of history, the human community becomes more and more compassionate and humane, for the lack of the better word, and this will have an impact on the agriculture and the way we eat. I personally believe that in a few centuries time we humans will look at today’s animal agricultural practices the same way we today look at the medieval burning of witches or ancient human sacrifices, – namely with horror and disgust. More and more people feel the same way already today and therefore decide to go vegan.

So, for all those reasons, the vegan market has a huge growth potential. Veganism is here to stay, it is the future. And if you look at the investor’s community, it has already recognized this as a fact. Just think of the Beyond Meat’s IPO, seed round of the vegan restaurant chain ByChloe, or the latest venture of Lewis Hamilton.