Friday 25 December 2015

5 Important Things to Consider Before You Start a Vegan Food Business

vegan business ideas

If you are a passionate and committed vegan who wants to help other people embrace this lifestyle, starting your a vegan food business might be a natural next step for your career and non-human animal rights advocacy and activism. Starting a vegan restaurant or vegan food shop (one that exclusively serves plant- and fungi based products that exclude deliberate animal torture) not only allows you to make money from doing what you love most, but it also gives you the chance to show people how tasty and appealing vegan food can actually be - and, if you decide to start a vegan worker cooperative, you can also further the case of economic democracy! But before you start, there are some major considerations that you will need to take into account in order to ensure that you are setting yourself up for success - here are some ideas.

1. Vegan Food Delivery: Eco-Transport and Insurance

opening a vegan restaurant

First of all, it is worth considering how you are going to get your food to your customers. Many people start food businesses from home and deliver the meals - if you want to do this, you’ll need to ensure that you are adequately covered by your insurance (car, motorbike or bicycle). You have two options to provide your own vehicle and delivery driver, or simply outsource the delivery service to self employed food delivery drivers. If you choose the latter, you do not need to worry about getting food hire and reward insurance for your business. You can often add on business insurance to your existing policy or you may want to consider taking out a standalone food delivery insurance policy.

vegan worker cooperatives
For ecological and health reasons, if you are someone who is able-bodied, we recommend opting for cycling instead of choosing automobiles and / or motorbikes. Naturally, electric cars might be a necessity for people of different abilities wanting to start a vegan business (nope, veganism is not inherently ableist - carnism, on the other hand, is). If you can walk and / or pedal, we recommend getting a cart that can be latched on to your bicycle or even better, purchasing a tricycle with a cart or a quadracycle with a small, lockable cargo section.

2. Vegan Food Safety and Hygiene

Whether you are cooking and delivering meals from home or are setting up in a commercial kitchen, your food will need to meet safety and hygiene standards before you can start selling it to your customers. When you run any kind of food business, you will be subjected to regular quality checks, and your company could be shut down if you don’t meet the standards. It might be worth taking a course in food safety and hygiene to make it easier for you to comply from the start.

Food safety, when viewed in a wider context, can also mean avoiding fruit, veg and fungi that comes from agricultural practices that promote the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers - many of these not only have potential health risks, their production (like all chemicals') comes at a high environmental cost and they also contribute to the erosion and weaking soil quality, which is devastating. For food safety, we recommend buying raw food materials that are produced according to the guidelines of the organic movement and regenerative agriculture (rather than big ag). Organic, local produce isn't currently part of any country's food safety standards - we believe it should and hopefully will be in the future. If the food that is produced is not safe to eat, not safe for the soil, it's production is not safe for the enviromnent, we do not believe it cannot be considered 'safe'.

3. Local Demand for Plant- and Fungi-based Food

You might love your vegan food, but if there is no local demand for it, your business is not going to do very well. So before you start, it’s a good idea to do some market research in your area and find out how many people would actually be willing to give vegan food a try. Don’t start your business in the hopes that you will be able to convince people to become customers; while it might work in some cases, it’s unlikely to happen with everybody. If there’s no demand in your area and you really want to start a vegan food business, you might consider starting one elsewhere... or even better, consider working with non-human right advocacy activists to spread awarness in the area before you start the business. If there is no demand, it can be generated - when people are made aware of the issues surrounding the flesh-, dairy-, egg and fishing industries, many (if not all) will listen to reasonable arguments and will start reducing their consumption of non-human animal products, perhaps looking for vegan alternatives. Many of them will not go vegan overnight, or maybe never during their lifetimes but with awareness comes demand for food that comes from slightly less exploitative circumstances (note: most fruit, veg and fungi is still produced in wage slavery around the world).

4. Demand for Locally Sourced Vegan Food

how to start a vegan business

After looking at local demand for vegan food, it is also worth looking at demand for locally grown food: the ecological impact of important fruit and veg that could (and probably is) easily grown locally is quite high! We recommend only opting for importing goods if they cannot be grown locally at all (like many spices, for example) and striving to stick to local resources, especially small producers, farmers and worker cooperatives, if possible.

vegan worker coop

5. Competition With Other Vegan Businesses

Is there a gap in the market for a vegan food business in your area, or will you be competing against several others? Understanding what you’re up against will be crucial as you get started and throughout the process of setting up and running your company. If there are competitors to consider, make sure that you have a thorough understanding of what they are doing well and where they’re falling behind, so that you can set your business up to do better. Or alternatively, you might want to consider stepping out of the competitive mindset and getting into a collaborative mindset: instead of competing with them (which will ultimately lead to pushing down each others' prices and hence will be detrimental to workers' wages), complimenting each other, perhaps even forming a chain or a franchise eventually, or at least a vegan food business trade union - we heavily recommend checking out alternative economic practices such as market socialism, for example.

6. Workplace Democracy: Vegan Worker Coops!

We can't express how much we recommend starting a vegan worker cooperative (or, in other words: a democratic workplace, a labour-led firm, a company with workers' self-management) instead of a traditional one that uses (and economically exploits) labour force via wage slavery. In case worker cooperatives are not legal in your country (like in Hungary), there are ways to work around that (e.g. registering as a traditional company but distributing income democratically like Gólya Bisztro in Budapest) but ultimately, if this is the case, we recommend spreading awareness about economic and workplace democracy and starting (or joining) a movement in your native country to legalize these types of companies.

starting a vegan business

If you're lucky enough to be living in a country where coops are already legal, like Spain and England - go for it! England already has Beet the System (relatively new and small vegan worker coop) and Suma (a relatively old and rather big vegetarian worker coop), both food businesses or Bristol's Café Kino. Remember: in coops, profit is distributed evenly, all shareholders are employees and all employees are shareholders, company leaders are (re)elected from the ranks of the workers, by the workers, and leadership positions are temporary. Economic democracy can happen: if we all want it and work for it!

6. Wrap Up: How to Start a Vegan Food Business

vegan food companies

In the end, if you decide to not start a vegan business, you might want to opt for starting or joining a non-profit oriented food enterprise: feeding the houseless, the needy and poor vegan food, the way Food Not Bombs does it. They are a decentralised, international and non-official, volunteer-based organisation that collect leftover fruit and veg from local marketplaces (they accept donations, too), then cook and serve them in the form of soup kitchens. We have worked with them briefly in Budapest at Aurora - wonderful people, beautiful cause, great community!

P.S.: If you're interested in an app designed for vegans & wanna support the vegan movement and us, veganvstravel as well, use this link plz to download Abillionveg. When registering, please use our referral code: TRAVELLINGWEASELS. If you wanna know why we think this is a great app, read here.

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