A powerful group of plant-based investors known as the ‘vegan mafia’ is plunging cash into innovative animal-free products, according to a report by mainstream media outlet CNBC.
The article describes the ‘mafia’ as a ‘group of powerful vegans across the country who fund start-ups, and try to wean people from their dependence on animal products’.
According to mafia member Ryan Bethencourt, who runs bio-tech accelerator IndieBio: “There’s a whole community of us that are building and funding vegan companies.”
Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are listed as some of the most significant plant-based tech start-ups for investors.
CBNC lists the ‘vegan mafia’ members as:
-Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise, a self-driving car technology acquired by General Motors for more than $1 billion
-Former Wall Street trader Kevin Boylan, who runs a fund for plant-centric companies called PowerPlant Ventures
-His business partner Mark Rampolla, founder of ZICO Coconut Water
-Jody Rasch, a former Moody’s senior vice president managing a fund called VegInvest
-Seth Bannon, a social entrepreneur and founding partner at a seed fund called Fifty Years
-Lisa Feria, CEO of Stray Dog Capital, a fund that also invests in early-stage companies
Not for vegans
There is a common thread among the members of the group – they are not investing in products aimed at vegans.
The article says: “Instead, they are investing in products that appeal to the masses because they are healthier and cheaper.
“One example of that is Geltor, which is designed to be less expensive than gelatin — which that involves boiling the skin, tendons, bones from cows and pigs in a vat — as well as cruelty-free.
“Or [former Wall Street trader Kevin] Boylan’s portfolio company, an eatery chain called Veggie Grill, which primarily serves people who also eat meat.”
Ethics – and cash
While the companies’ investors pump cash into undoubtedly ethical benefits, they also have great potential for financial success.
Kyle Vogt says: “These are fundamentally great businesses. And if they succeed, they will have an advantage over food that was raised in the traditional way.”
Seth Bannon believes better commercial alternatives are needed to prompt people to turn away from meat, saying: “The case for giving up meat is clear. There’s a health case, an environmental case.
“But we have largely given up on education as a tool for convincing people.”