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Issue #7: The rising tide of plant-based food innovation



October 31 · Issue #7 · View online

Dedicated to curating tech products and startups solving the world's most pressing problems, including climate change, pollution, and sustainability.

As the generation who popularized avocado on toast, we must ask ourselves, are we being mindful #foodies?
 In this issue we explore an array of product ideas that could potentially replace existing food with healthier and more sustainable solutions. We are happy to see a shift to a healthier and more sustainable diet and the evolution to cleaner and more sustainable ingredients. We believe that this is not just a trend, but a more fundamental, and long time overdue, consumer shift, as the climatic changes at play force us to shift in the next decade.
Join us as we dive in, we dare you to go through this issue without drooling! 

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Munchies for the masses
Food is not only a central part of our daily lives but also at the centre of important nutrition, environmental and social challenges facing the world today. Technology plays one of the key roles in tackling those challenges. An increase in fascinating new food trends (3D printed foods, lab-grown meat and vegetables) is accelerating the potential to create sustainable food options that are both good for our health and our planet
Plant-based foods have outpaced the growth of the whole food and beverage industry in recent years. New ingredients, technologies and formats of meat and dairy replacements are pushing this segment forward.
Image source: The Nielsen Company
Image source: The Nielsen Company
Image source: The Nielsen Company
Image source: The Nielsen Company
Driven by health and environmental concerns, more consumers are displaying a preference for more plant based foods. People are learning the benefits of plant-based; they are embracing plant-based because they feel it’s beneficial, for their health, and for the planet, climate and environment.
It’s never been a better time to choose a less resource-intensive and more animal-friendly diet.
Several emerging start-ups have introduced innovative alternatives to dairy and meat-based products that offer similar or superior taste, texture and nutrition.
Cravings without compromise
Global food demand will grow 50% by 2030 and there will be a significant need for more protein. Today, technology makes it possible to produce high-quality and high-nutrition plant-based foods while eliminating many of the current challenges of conventional agriculture.
Imagine a food system where the most affordable and delicious products are also good for our bodies and the environment.
In one of the previous issues on startups disrupting the food supply, we mentioned that lab-grown burgers could be the food of the future and mentioned a handful of start-ups working on high-tech meat alternatives such as Memphis Meats, Hampton Creek, Just, Finless Foods, SuperMeat, Mosa Meat, and Beyond Meat
Every burger-lover and chicken-nugget-enthusiast will get the opportunity to choose a clean meat or plant-based snack. Sound mouth-watering? Here are some of the companies producing safe, efficient, and delicious plant-based foods:
Good Catch creates the best plant-made seafood—from fish-free tuna to crab-free cakes— all made with nutritious, sustainable ingredients. All Good Catch foods are 100% plant-based, no dairy, no gluten, and no GMOs.
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Sustainable seafood is shrimp-ly the best
Did you know that fishing for wild shrimp is environmentally destructive; with a carbon footprint that is 10 times greater than beef?! But if you’re one of those shrimp lovers à la Bubba from Forrest Gump, don’t panic just yet!
New Wave Foods, a Bay Area startup, founded by two female leaders Dominique Barnes and Michelle Wolf, is one of the interesting companies out there committed to produce healthy and sustainable seafood. They create a lab-made “shrimp” made of plant proteins and algae, without antibiotics, zero cholesterol or allergens. In the near future, the founders plan to add fish sticks, salmon, and tuna to their product line.
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One of the important goals when talking about healthy and sustainable food is to make the healthier food choice the easiest one. Several startups are offering high-quality and ready-to-eat, nutritious and sustainably made variants of some of our favorite products.
Want plant-based chips that taste like bacon? Try Pig-out chips by Outstanding Foods that have all the taste and texture of crispy bacon but are 100% plant based. Better for you, better for the planet and better for the pigs!
If you have a ‘meatless Monday’ in your calendar, try the delicious meatless chicken tenders or meatless meatballs from Gardein, founded by a Canadian chef whose mission is to use the power of vegetables to create healthy fast food. 
For advocates of dairy-free eating, we recommend trying Daiya products, plant-based alternatives to cheeses, yogurts, sauces, pizza, dessert bars, and other popular foods. The company is also dedicated to producing food responsibly and reducing their carbon footprint. 
Another great product for those on a quest to find alternative milk products (without food additives, synthetic vitamins and free from soy, GMO’s and gluten) is Malk, a healthy and wholesome nut-based, creamy milk made of organic ingredients that are sourced with the consumer’s nutrition and the environment in mind.
Algae is taking over, and we’re lichen it
Algae-based products are one of the most exciting innovations in the food category; these products are potentially so disruptive because the innovation helps make the food that we already love, better for us and better for the planet.
These products are made from a native algae strain, which naturally converts sugars into oils and proteins. Algae provides lots of protein while using relatively little in the way of scarce resources. Pond scum or food of the future? Algae is the foundation of the next generation of farming and food. 
One of the most exciting facts about algae-based products is their ability to improve healthdecrease calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol – without compromising taste. Let’s take a look at a few interesting products and companies working in this space.
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One of the hottest algae-based products on the market today is algae oil, an everyday cooking oil made from algae; has the highest amount of good fats and the lowest amount of saturated fat and calories compared to other cooking oils. Today, algae oils are already used in daily products such as cookies, milk, non-dairy creamers, vegan eggs, salad dressing, ice-cream, smoothies, and protein powders. 
Algae oil is also one of the most sustainably produced cooking oils.
TerraVia, a San Francisco Bay Area food, nutrition and specialty ingredients company, is harnessing the power of algae. Its Thrive Algae Oil can be used for cooking, baking, sautéing, frying, or stir-frying.
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Roquette, is a global leader in plant-based ingredients and a pioneer of new vegetable proteins.
In collaboration with its customers and partners, they address current and future societal challenges by unlocking the potential of nature to offer the best ingredients for food, and nutrition. These ingredients respond to unique and essential needs, and enable healthier lifestyles.
And there’s more to come. Big companies like Nestlé and Unilever are developing algae into some of their products and drinks. 
Where to look for innovations in food?
The Global Food Innovation Summit is the leading event in this space that brings together thousands of innovators from all over the world who are on a mission to build a better food system for all. Hundreds of startups, food and technology companies, investors, and policy makers come together to share their products and experiences.
We all know the arguments that being vegetarian is better for the environment and for the animals – but in a carnivorous culture, it can be hard to make the change. Graham Hill has a powerful, pragmatic suggestion: Be a weekday veg. Your footprint will be smaller, you will feel better about the animals, be healthier, and even save money.
So, what’s stopping you from giving weekday veg a shot? 
Seeds&Chips - The Global Food Innovation Summit 2018
Moreover, they recently announced their Made JUST platform, which is essentially a way to share their deep database of sustainable, functional tools with participating startups that will be able to create and iterate on new, sustainable products more rapidly.
Made JUST Teaser on Vimeo
Worth a listen
Eat for good podcast aims to answer the question ‘how can we eat in a way that nourishes us without starving the planet?’
Some of our favorite episodes:
  • With Liz Dee, the founder of Vegan Ladyboss, a global collective that works to empower and support vegan women in advancing their careers and animal advocacy. 
  • With Ethan Brown, the Founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, a company dedicated to building meat directly from plants. 
  • With Bruce Friedrich, the Co-Founder of the Good Food Institute, a non-profit that is working to transform animal agriculture by promoting the development of innovative alternatives to meat and seafood. 
  • With Bill Glaser, founder and CEO of Outstanding Foods which makes tasty as hell plant-based food products that make it easier for anyone to eat healthier.  
A TED Talk to watch
We all know the arguments that being vegetarian is better for the environment and for the animals – but in a carnivorous culture, it can be hard to make the change. Graham Hill has a powerful, pragmatic suggestion: Be a weekday veg. Your footprint will be smaller, you will feel better about the animals, be healthier, and even save money.
So, what’s stopping you from giving weekday veg a shot? 
Why I'm a weekday vegetarian | Graham Hill - YouTube
Bag it up! DIY your own fabric, grocery bags
In the previous issues we mentioned that we can’t rely on technology as a magic fix for our current environment problems. We all can make a difference by changing our habits and routines in our daily life in favor of more sustainable, green and eco-friendly choices. 
Here is a great example of a simple step for a positive change. Aleks’ friend Kate made these beautiful bags that she uses for groceries. Fabric bags for shopping are a simple and convenient option to replace plastic bags when shopping. 
Single-use plastic is a large problem that most people are a part of. Making bags like these will take you 30 min, you can use them for years, and avoid using hundreds of plastic bags! Even a small step contributes to big and positive changes for our planet. 🌎
Wrapping up
Systemic food shifts suggest plant foods are primed to radically change the way we eat, representing a new food culture. Innovations in a variety of technologies will be critical in reshaping food systems for nutrition, health, inclusion, and sustainability. Technology, however, is just one of a wide range of solutions; how we adapt to them and the immediacy of our adoption is just as important and fundamental. 
With love,
Aleksandra, Andrea, and Jessica. 💚
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