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Before you buy an electric car, or stop travelling overseas, chew on this for a second.
Researchers at the University of Oxford discovered in a study that meat and dairy production is responsible for 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, and eliminating meat and dairy from your diet could reduce your carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. In fact, if everyone successfully cut these foods out of their diets, global farmland use would decline by a whopping 75%, equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined.
Switching to a fully (or at least mostly) plant-based is the single most impactful change any individual can make for the future of the planet. And the best part is, that doesn’t even mean sacrificing on taste like it may have twenty years ago.
We sat down with Jonathan Petrides, co-founder of the superstar plant-based brand allplants to find out more about how sustainability sits at the core of the business.
How did allplants come about? Was there a specific problem you envisioned solving?
In late 2015, my brother and I both experimented with eating no meat, dairy or eggs. At the time, it felt like a huge step and we didn’t know where to start. We created allplants to make it exciting, easy and delicious to eat more plants, and less meat, at a moment’s notice.
We’d taken on the challenge after learning that eating a plant-based diet is the most impactful decision any individual can make to lighten our footprint on the planet. After a few months, we both felt more energetic, passionate and emboldened by the change of diet, so we set out to help others to give it a go on their terms.
What advice would you give to other early stage businesses looking to make a meaningful impact on the world?
It doesn’t matter what sector you are in, there’s positive change to make in every industry. Go hunting for those neglected negative externalities and you’ll be amazed at how creative you and your team will get at solving the wasteful, destructive and irresponsible business as usual norms and flipping them into something you, your team and your customers will be proud to be part of.
Also, it’s worth a thoughtful question to narrow your focus to that area where your company has a responsibility to act and an opportunity for outsized impact, as well as the leverage to bring about change.
For example, it doesn’t make much sense for us, a food company, to channel a significant amount of energy into advancing the renewables sector. We can actively support the energy transition but there just isn’t enough crossover compared with something like flipping everyone’s diets onto plants, nutrition or farming for us to choose that as our point of impact. It’s really easy to be pulled in the direction of general travel and public opinion, but if it doesn’t truly align, it will be tough to generate major impact. Focus your energy where it’s going to make the biggest difference.
What advice would you give to an individual looking to reduce their environmental impact?
Not to overwhelm you with statistics, but the numbers paint a pretty good picture:
Livestock is the leading cause of resource consumption, accounting for 30% world’s water consumption, 45% of global land use and 91% of Amazon destruction. It’s also the leading cause of ocean dead zones, habitat destruction and species extinction (90% soybean grown is fed to livestock). I’d suggest giving Mike Berners-Lee’s novels How Bad are Bananas and There is no Planet B a read, if you want to educate yourself on this topic.
The most significant action anyone can take in addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and soil health is eating more plant-based. Assuming that individual isn’t Jeff Bezos… Jeff, if you’re reading this, you can do a hell of a lot more!
Why do you think crowdfunding is a good option for sustainable businesses? And why did you choose this for allplants?
Since day one, every allplants employee has been an owner of allplants and we’ve always hoped that our customers and community could become owners too. Building communities that are really invested in and supportive of the highs and lows of a business’s journey is really valuable to help us enable sustainable and ethical practices.
Our business works, and can continue to inspire the planet to eat more plants, because of the strong community of chefs, customers and team behind the scenes. Building a community of owners is our way of bringing more people on the inside, as we continue accelerating the movement and share in making the change we want to see in the world together..
In your opinion, how do you get more people investing in sustainable businesses like yours?
I don’t think we need to encourage this, it’s happening.
Investing in any business looking to drive a more sustainable future is simply sound business. That’s why you’re seeing major private equity and global markets mobilise away from destructive industries and get behind innovative industries building the future.
Our planet needs change right now, and it needs it fast. Businesses, governments and households across the world are continuing to become more and more aware of this, and meanwhile the imperative for change also continues to escalate – with growing biodiversity loss, climate warming, rising sea levels. So we have an ever growing need, and an ever-growing awareness which is rapidly turning into demand for change.
Any business at the sharp-end of making this change happen fast is racing into an important, growing and massive market.
Looking to the future, what can we expect to see next from allplants?
From a sustainability perspective,we have massive ambitions. In the next five years, we will have thoroughly audited our entire supply chain, literally walking through absolutely everything: waste, emissions, working conditions, diversity, and farming practices – from all the way up-stream where the seed is planted, through to manufacturing and out to customers. We’ll be reporting our findings and subsequent improvements made (both good and bad) publicly.
Part of pushing for sustainability is maintaining transparency and coming to terms with the fact that there is always something more we can be doing. We want to look beyond just our own supply chain and out into the food system as a whole. By engaging with everyone involved, we can improve industry practices, collaborate on policies and work with other innovative brands who have ideas that may very well change the world.
In 2020, allplants raised £4,503,887 from 1,857 investors on Seedrs.