We’re a proud bunch, so when someone in the vegan world seems to be doing great things and clearly has plans for more, we want to celebrate and shout about them.
The term up-and-comer gives me pause. I think it’s because I’m almost in my forties and only now feel as though I’m reaching my stride and doing something not only worthwhile but that also maximises the usefulness of my talents.
Because of my age, I wouldn’t call myself an ‘up-and-comer. Maybe more of a splutter-and-starter, because I need coffee and a moment of reflection before I get going.
With this in mind, I’ve chosen to write about some of the vegan people I admire, who I feel are at an important juncture in their careers. Let’s forget about age and look at accomplishments and potential. If only we could do that in all walks of life, what a happier place the world would be. And how much more positive social media would look too. We can but dream.
It’s easy to assume that it’s only those starting alt-meat operations or creating new plant-based milks who are making a significant impact on the world as vegan entrepreneurs (Vegpreneurs?), but that’s not the case. Here, I’ve brought together a selection of very different people, with expertise, influence and creativity from every corner of the business world, because as a combined force, they are executing actual change.
Here are eight vegan entrepreneurs trailblazing in their areas.
Chris Margetts has a special story to tell. Coming from the bustle of the fast-fashion industry, he recognised that systemic and meaningful change needed to come from within and set about launching his own vegan, ethical and sustainable label.
Signposting a deliberate breakaway from his previous career path, Humans Are Vain is the resulting brand that focuses on timeless pieces that don’t need to be replaced every season in the name of staying current. It also makes a blistering statement as to the inherent issues associated with fast fashion, thanks to an inspired moniker.
Tina Newman is the living embodiment of an all-round beautiful vegan. A qualified animal nursing assistant, talented makeup artist and mum to three (one furry offspring), she has found the time to unleash her passion for veganism in written form.
Her children’s books are designed to show little ones how amazing it is to be plant-based and Vivi the Supervegan has become a must-have for vegan families everywhere. More titles are sure to follow, and I can’t wait to see how the message of kindness to animals develops as Vivi gets older.
Am I a little biased because Loui Blake comes from my hometown? Maybe, but that doesn’t undermine the enormous impact he has made in the vegan world or what he no doubt has planned for the future.
Founder of a vegan restaurant chain, an angel investor and guest speaker, he is making metaphorical and literal noise about how turning plant-based in 2015 changed his life forever. If you ever need a little motivational pick-me-up, some inspiration or even advice, this is the guy to turn to.
Another champion of sustainable manufacturing, Joey Pringle came from a background in less than earth-friendly fashion manufacturing. After a fortuitous meeting, he jumped at the opportunity to make a difference and bring his heart to the world of Chinese factory production.
Some would say that this was a tall order but today, Veshin is making phenomenal strides forward, using sustainable, vegan alternatives to animal leather and creating high-quality goods with consideration sewn into every seam. With such a specialist facility up and running, it’s only a matter of time before everybody is talking about Veshin, so get in the know now.
If you think one mum can’t make a difference in the world, Laura Chepner will change your mind. Having successfully campaigned for vegan meals to be added to the menu at her own daughter’s primary school, she immediately identified the need for the move to be made standard practice.
That’s how Primary Veducation was founded. Chepner has created valuable resources to be used in and by schools to be more vegan-inclusive and supportive. It’s essential for young minds to feel ‘seen’ and by making veganism normal, even from a young age and within a formal educational framework, the benefits are tangible. Chepner is also available to consult directly, making her expertise super easy to access.
I know that as a parent to a small vegan, I’d love to think that the school my little one eventually goes to will understand her needs and support them with love and knowledge.
6. Darko Mandich
CEO and co-founder of MeliBio, Darko Mandich pulls no punches when it comes to highlighting the value and uniqueness of the work he is doing with business partner Aaron M Schaller. Having described honest bees as “lazy”, it should come as no surprise that he set out to produce honey without them, but the really interesting thing here is that the product is vegan.
Making genuine honey, just without the involvement of bees at all, Mandich has broken through one of the last taboos of veganism, creating a product that doesn’t need to be justified or substituted. Saving both bees and the ecosystem from damaging overproduction, this is not only a person but also a company to keep your eyes peeled for.
A proud vegan and ethical business owner, Prashant Kumbhat launched Get Vegan Grub, a unique plant-based only food delivery service. There’s an extra twist though. Offering restaurants the lowest rate of commission out of all delivery partners, Kumbhat also seeks to treat his employees with more decency and respect than any of the more well-known competitors.
Everyone is part of the family, with equality and equity being used to promote the message of veganism. Nationwide roll-out will see this company take things to the next level and I can’t wait to see it happen, because I’ve interviewed Kumbhat personally and his passion is not only genuine, it is infectious and inspiring too.
Dark Green PR, Ed Hopkins’ marketing agency, is the answer to a question that far too few people were asking: how can we make a tangible difference from a public relations office? The solution was to weaponise great strategy and professional promotion tools while working exclusively with companies that are seeking to tackle climate change.
Bringing the two together, Hopkins has been able to carve a niche, while also gaining reputable brands more airtime and views than their less-than-eco counterparts. His client list is impressive, to say the least, and as word spreads, it’s a clear indicator that he is surpassing even his own projections.
From teaching our children that it’s not only okay, but amazing, to be vegan, to offering us more choice in terms of restaurants and food and proving that fashion doesn’t have to be harmful, there are some truly amazing vegan professionals out there, so make sure you’re not snoozing on their impact.