Plant-based eating is the future of food. Restaurants, retailers, and producers are all responding to a marked increase in demand for vegan meats and dairy products. Gone are the days of scouring grocery store shelves hoping to find tofu and canned beans. In addition to the enduring staples of a vegan diet, plant-based eaters can enjoy everything from pate and fish sticks to burgers and chicken nuggets.
How Many Companies Make Plant-Based Meat?
The number of companies producing plant-based meat is consistently increasing as consumer demand for such products goes up. Experts in the area suggest that this increase in demand is likely due to a number of factors.
Consumers are increasingly conscious of animal suffering and welfare. This has driven the popularity of vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian diets as well as the adoption of trends such as meatless Monday, especially in North America and Europe.
Consumers are also increasingly concerned about the environment. Animal agriculture is a leading cause of pollution, potentially emitting up to 51 percent of all greenhouse gases. The industry is also responsible for large amounts of deforestation, water usage, and pollution.
Another driver behind the increasing popularity of vegan meats is that the public is becoming more health-conscious. Because plants do not contain cholesterol like meat does, consumers can limit their intake by consuming more vegan meat alternatives.
Experts also note that key markets such as Brazil, India, and China have been urbanizing with remarkable speed, increasing access to a variety of premium food items including vegan meats, and seeing consumption rise.
All of these factors have worked together and in 2020 the global plant-based meat market reached a value of $8.6 billion. It is expected to grow at a rate of 17 percent between 2021 and 2026.
Who Are the Leaders in Plant-Based Meat?
New options for plant-based meats and proteins appear on grocery shelves seemingly daily. Virtually every kind of animal protein has a delicious plant-based alternative on the market, including plant-based nuggets, crab cakes, beef, eggs, and even sushi fish. Below is a list of just some of the many brands behind these inventive and delectable foods.
1. Amy’s Kitchen
Amy’s Kitchen is known for its frozen entrees and prepared foods, many of which are fully plant-based and contain vegan meats. For example, their vegan supreme pizza contains not only plant-based pepperoni and sausage but also vegan cheese. Amy’s Kitchen plant-based meats can also be purchased in the form of burger patties in a variety of flavors, including Summer Harvest and Black Bean.
2. Beyond Meat
Beyond Meat has taken the plant-based culinary world by storm and skyrocketed in popularity in the Global North since the introduction of its first products in 2012. Their products include burger patties, ground beef, and sausage that can be acquired both in grocery stores and at a variety of restaurants. The brand also recently relaunched its line of chicken products that are currently available through restaurants.
3. Impossible Foods
Impossible Foods is a powerhouse in the world of vegan meats. Their burgers can be acquired from thousands of different restaurants including chains like Burger King, White Castle, and Red Robin. Their sausage, ground beef, and burger patties can also be purchased from retailers.
Chances are that when you think of Kellogg’s, breakfast cereal comes to mind. However, the breakfast giant is also behind the brands Incogmeato and MorningStar Farms. The former’s full line of products includes seasoned sausages, chicken, ground beef, patties, and breakfast links that are all fully plant-based. Incogmeato’s close cousin, MorningStar Farms, has a wide variety of products that are 100 percent plant-based, such as corn dogs and meatballs. However, not all of their products are fully vegan since some contain egg whites.
5. Maple Leaf Foods
Maple Leaf Foods is the Canadian company behind popular brands Lightlife and Field Roast. In addition to offering vegan deli meats, hot dogs, burgers, and bacon, Lightlife also offers flavored tempeh. Field Roast is best known for its plant-based holiday roasts which they offer in three different varieties. In addition to these, the brand also produces pepperoni, deli slices, and even plant-based cheeses among numerous other items.
6. Pinnacle Foods
In 2014, Pinnacle Foods purchased Gardein, a brand of fully vegan meats and prepared foods. The brand’s offerings include various cuts of chicken in a variety of flavors, burger patties, fish fillets flavored pork. Frozen prepared foods such as their plant-based chicken sliders with buns are also available. Pinnacle Foods is now owned by Conga.
7. Quorn Foods
When purchasing Quorn products look for the ones marked vegan, as some of their products, including all their refrigerated offerings, contain egg whites. The brand still offers a wide variety of fully vegan products including their chipotle cutlets, buffalo dippers, and fishless sticks.
Sunfed is a brand based out of New Zealand and offers “Chicken Free Chicken, Bull Free Beef, and Boar Free Bacon.” The company’s products are ideal for seasoning and preparation in virtually any recipe.
Gardein is a very popular brand that offers a variety of plant-based options such as fishless filets, chicken nuggets, and tenders, and sauced and seasoned plant-based meats. The brand also offers convenient frozen prepared foods such as black bean sliders with buns.
10. MorningStar Farms
Perhaps one of the most familiar plant-based meat brands in the United States, MorningStar Farms has been available on grocery store shelves since 1975. Though not all of their products are presently vegan the company has committed to making the transition to being fully plant-based by the end of 2021. In the meantime, a number of their products are already vegan, including their grillers veggie burgers, and chik’n patties.
11. Vbites Group
Vbites is a fully vegan brand that produces a considerable range of products in the United Kingdom for global distribution. The brand has been around since 1993 and offers a wide array of vegan meats and cheeses. While the company produces all the standard offerings such as burger patties and chicken nuggets, they also manufacture plant-based pates, salmon slices, and other less prominent products.
12. Gold & Green
This Finnish brand can be found in restaurants around the world and in grocery stores in Finland and the Netherlands. The products available for purchase at retailers include oat-based meats seasoned in a variety of flavors including their tomato and Mexico offerings. Earlier this year the brand partnered with Taco Bell to bring vegan meat offerings to all 53 locations of the fast food chain in the United Kingdom.
13. BOCA Foods
While most of BOCA’s offerings are vegan, consumers should make sure to check when purchasing, as some, such as their All American burgers, do contain animal products. Among the brand’s numerous vegan offerings are turkey burgers, chick’n patties, and even falafel bites.
14. Eat JUST
While not strictly a producer of vegan meats, no list of plant-based proteins would be complete without Eat JUST and their ingenious and delicious vegan egg. The brand’s line is small and consists of only vegan liquid and folded eggs and sous vide. However, these products are extremely versatile and can be used to make frittatas and scrambled eggs, or on sandwiches.
15. The Very Good Butchers
In addition to having a restaurant in British Columbia, The Very Good Butchers offer their products in retail locations across Canada and in the Western United States. Consumers in Canada and the U.S. can also order their line of products for delivery from the company’s website. Their products include vegan stuffed breast, bratwurst, burgers, meatballs, and cheeses.
Is There an ETF for Plant-Based Foods?
While there is not an exchange traded fund (ETF) explicitly for plant-based food in the United States there is the U.S. Vegan Climate ETF. This ETF avoids investing in companies that are involved in the slaughter or mistreatment of animals and does not invest at all in companies that are dependent on a variety of activities that cause harm to animals, the environment, or people. Some examples of such activities are animal testing, animal farming, burning of fossil fuels, and military armaments.
How To Invest in Plant-Based Companies
Investing in plant-based companies is simple and can be done either through a broker, an online trading platform or through many types of retirement accounts. You could choose to invest in an ETF such as the U.S. Vegan Climate ETF. Another option would be to invest in individual companies. There are a variety of plant-based food companies that are public including Beyond Meat, Maple Leaf Foods, and Oatly, a popular producer of oat-based dairy products.
Eating Plant-Based Is Easier Than Ever
With so many options to choose from, plant-based eating is easier than ever. Consumers are recognizing the environmental, welfare, and health detriments of a diet full of animal-derived meats and dairy. The decision to eat more plant-based meals and reduce meat consumption becomes even easier when we recognize the intelligence of the animals being slaughtered and consumed.
Grace is an animal advocate with a passion for social justice within the animal protection movement.