A health enthusiast, a dedicated vegan, a fierce activist, and an entrepreneur at heart, Sonal is the founder and CEO of WhiteCub – an upcoming brand in the F&B industry dedicated to serving vegan alternatives for dairy products. She holds an MSc in Anthropology and has been working in the vegan industry for more than 10 years. She enjoys cooking, practicing yoga, and reading classics in her free time. She also enjoys gardening and interacting with people. She is an expert cook and possesses wizard-like marketing skills, that have contributed to the growth of her brainchild – WhiteCub.
Veganism is the new buzzword doing rounds in the food industry and why not? Joaquin Phoenix’s impeccable speech at the 92nd Oscars, got many people to introspect their eating and lifestyle choices. Particularly, the part about animal rights made many to turn over a new leaf and embark on a vegan lifestyle. Since, then there has been an unprecedented rise in individuals who are embracing veganism. The foundation of veganism is built on the idea of excluding any product that is derived out of animals, including food, dairy, clothing & even make-ups. From an ethical point of view, commoditizing animals is absolutely abstained by people practicing veganism. As more and more people are learning about the importance of animals rights, the significance of veganism is growing at the same pace.
The important question that we ask is, can India ever remain aloof to something that has taken the world by storm and become a global trend? The answer simply is no. Indians have caught up to speed with the rationale behind veganism. In fact India happens to be one of the prime vegan food markets in the Asia Pacific region. In a few years it will better the likes of global powers like USA, Australia and UK to become the biggest vegan food market.
The presence of a large vegetarian population actually made it easy for the enterprises engaged in the trade of vegan products to find grip in the Indian market. Moreover, the boom of digital media helped in marketing and raising awareness about veganism amongst the Indian crowd, thereby propelling its proliferation. Also, the eating behaviour of the people, especially the younger mass is becoming healthier and that is why there is a tendency to switch to plant based vegan food. Read more to know how the Indian demographic is responding to vegan food and products.
- Start up era
Evidently it is the era of start ups in India and every product under the sun is being aggressively popularised and commercialised by them. The incumbent government’s efforts with Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat have provided the much needed impetus to start ups to penetrate their operations in India.
Currently, there exist a slew of Indian start ups that are engaged in the trade of vegan foods and beverages. They are not just making the distribution channel streamlined but have also ensured to do away with the notion that vegan food is expensive. One of the primary steps that have been taken by these vegan start ups is the inclusion of affordable dairy alternatives.
Partnering with e-commerce sites or by adopting a B2C business model, these vegan start ups are focusing on laying out variety of vegan food choices and easy delivery ensuring customer satisfaction.
- Growth of Food Technology
Technology has caught hold of every sector and why would the food industry stay behind. Dining on cruelty free, delicious and sustainable meal is what the food tech experts are striving to create for food enthusiasts. High tech solutions have augmented the extraction of nutrients like protein, calories and fibre from plants and convert them into meat. For instance, by incorporating tech driven solutions, now protein from chickpeas can be extracted, isolated and then processed to form an egg liquid. The resultant egg has zero cholesterol and is far more nutritional. Peas in particular are very popular in the food tech world for engineering because they have high nutritional value and are allergy friendly.
Food scientists now have the acumen and technology to not just extract protein from plants like soy to produce alternatives of meat, but are taking a step further to analyse the structural components of meat. This is done to create a replica of meat, which has the same nutritional profile. A molecule containing iron called heme has been discovered by scientists, which is known to provide meat its peculiar smell and flavour. It can be found in plants as well in different forms and that is how the food tech experts have astutely engineered and fermented it. Many Indian vegan enterprises are harvesting heme from soy and making meat alternatives.
India is also on its way to establishing its first clean meat facility by 2025, which would promote advancements in making of plant based and clean meat. Moving forward into future, there will be no need for the breeding and slaughtering of animals for food products. These engineered vegan meat grown in laboratory are not only free from anti-biotic that the animals are fed, but also hold higher nutritional value.
- Social Media
Don’t we all love looking out for easy and delicious recipes on the internet? Well, the rise of social media has bolstered our engagement to looking at videos of influencers and chefs making appetizing dishes at home. Many food influencers in India are rising to fame because of their content that shows the easiest ways to cook a vegan meal with everything that is available at the disposal of your home. These influencers are making it clear that home-made vegan options are not a rarity.
Fitness influencers are not far behind as well. By making creative content surrounding easy hacks for vegan food, the reach of such influencers is growing every day. Inevitably, the followers are embracing a vegan lifestyle, not just for morality reasons but also to lead a healthy life.
Social media has also made it easy for the entrepreneurs and start ups to market their products. The onset of pandemic has certainly made digital marketing one of the most formidable ways of pitching your product and that is exactly what the vegan industry is eyeing for.
- Indian kitchens have vegan ingredients
If you ever see an Indian kitchen, you would notice that it is filled with ingredients that can be made into a vegan delicacy. What we know is that a vegan diet is comprised of plant based food options and an Indian kitchen is home to all the ingredients that go into such plant based meals. Moreover, the Indian palate is already used to eating a lot of vegan meals on a regular basis, ranging from vegetable pulao, dum aloo, dal tadka, kofta, dosa, sambhar etc.
The future of the Indian vegan food market looks glorious as food technology aims to penetrate the food and fitness space. A gradual diversification of distribution channels from an exclusive online store to convenience stores and speciality stores would help vegan industry to cater to variety of customers.