WWhether it’s your local pub finally adding an option to their menu for the first time or a plant-based version of your favorite dessert hitting the supermarket shelves, the availability of vegan food has taken leaps and bounds. these last years.

The number of vegans in the UK quadrupled between 2014 and 2019, with 600,000 people falling into this category, according to data from the Vegan Society. Veganuary, the campaign in which people go vegan for the month of January, hit a record 585,000 registrations this year, up from just 3,300 in 2014.

There is money in the trend: The global plant-based meat market alone is expected to grow from $ 3.6 billion (£ 2.6 billion) in 2020 to $ 4.2 billion. dollars by 2021, according to market research group Markets and Markets. However, for individuals who want to put their money where they say it is, the options are not always obvious.

Which is unfortunate because Claire Smith, Managing Director of Beyond Investing, a vegan investment platform, and creator of the US Vegan Climate Index, says they are generally aware of society and the environment and are likely to ” be interested in what happens to their money. “If they look at the labels and verify that the food they eat is definitely not from an animal, they will likely be concerned about where their money is going,” she says.

Applying vegan principles – like avoiding companies that test on animals or operate animals – to investments can involve a lot of research and will limit the number of companies you can invest in. Lee Coates, an ethical money, environmental, social and corporate governance consultant who has spent years researching the best funds for vegans to invest in, says they “don’t have a lot of choice.”

In the UK there are no dedicated funds to just hide your money, and information on where to invest is hard to come by.

“The best approach is to seek ethical fund solutions that eliminate exposure to a wide range of problems, such as animal testing,” says David Henry, investment manager at Quilter Cheviot. “It’s worth talking to a financial advisor with access to fund selection tools to make sure your investment choices match your goals and ethics. “

You can use an investment platform such as Fidelity, AJ Bell or Hargreaves Lansdown to buy these funds. However, you will need to check the individual holdings within the fund to see if they comply with your principles.

Coates says, “For example, you might consider buying a pure wind fund and think it’s not just green but vegan, but you should see if there are any affiliates to allow grazing on the hill, which could then mean that it is rented out to a local farmer to generate profit.

Tech funds may seem like a safer option, but he says you “should look at their procurement policies and whether they undertake animal testing.” He adds that property can be good because “it is generally ethically neutral”.

Coates recommends the Janus Henderson Global Sustainable Equity Fund, which invests in companies contributing to positive environmental or social change and is “financially very successful and meets vegan criteria”. He also suggests the Aegon Ethical Equity Fund and the Aegon Corporate Ethics Bond, which he says abides by vegan principles – “for example, no factory farming, no retailing of meat and produce. dairy “.

Alternatively, you can also invest directly through the stock market, choosing cruelty-free companies or purely vegan companies. Many of them are listed on stock exchanges outside the UK, such as Beyond Meat, the maker of the Beyond Burger, Else Nutrition, an Israeli producer of plant-based infant formula, or the US food producer. Herbal Tattooed Chef.

Haz Feliks of Aylesbury has “invested primarily in technology companies, avoiding any business that operates or is associated with animal agriculture.” Photography: Haz Feliks

Haz Feliks, 40, a technology-enhanced learning manager living in Aylesbury, invests in individual company stocks through his Isa life, pension and personal trading account. “Just like my daily purchases and groceries, it’s important for me to make ethical choices with my investments and my savings,” he says. “Working in technology and passionate about technology, I have mainly invested in technology companies, avoiding any companies that operate or are associated with animal agriculture. He invested in Tesla early on and is currently investing in Beyond Meat and other companies “that meet the criteria of being plant or technology based.”

A vegetarian for four years and founder of the breakfast delivery company Oatsu, Lauren O’Donnell, 28, invests between £ 25-50 a month in ethical funds and also owns shares in Beyond Meat and Oatly . “I try to focus on companies that have focused on a plant-based solution,” says O’Donnell. “There is particularly a lot of choice when it comes to food and to some extent clothing, but with investment there could be more resources to make it easier for investors to make more sustainable choices and ethical. “

Another option is to invest in vegan businesses through crowdfunding platforms such as Seedrs and Crowdcube. So far this year, Seedrs claims that 42 plant-focused companies have used its platform, up 400% from the previous year. One is the chef’s vegan delivery service to customer Allplants, which has raised £ 4.5million. Crowdcube reports that more than 4,000 individual investors have committed nearly £ 6million to vegan businesses on its platform this year.

Stephanie Peritore, 46, founder and CEO of Mindful Bites, invests in vegan businesses through her Isa and through crowdfunding.

“It gives me access to transaction flows to phenomenal companies like Pip & Nut. I have invested in around 25 companies and tend to invest around £ 20,000 each time.

A meatless burger patty called Beyond Burger made by Beyond Meat is on display in a grocery store in the United States
Many cruelty-free or purely vegan companies are listed on stock exchanges outside of the UK, such as Beyond Meat, the maker of the Beyond Burger. Photograph: Steve Helber / AP

Most people’s biggest investment is their retirement, and you might find that your work retirement is far from vegan. “If you were automatically enrolled in an employer-sponsored pension plan, you will likely be invested in the default fund option,” says Henry. “It’s worth seeing if the pension plan has an ethical or sustainable fund option that you can invest in instead. While these funds are unlikely to invest solely on vegan grounds, they may exclude some companies. For example, Nest’s ethical fund will avoid investing in companies that test cosmetics on animals and will only invest in companies that adhere to animal welfare codes of practice.

Coates refers to a landmark 2020 decision where ethical veganism was seen as a philosophical belief and opened the door for people entitled to vegan-friendly pensions. “A good employer would understand if you want a vegan pension,” says Coates. “Talk to your boss. Get together with other vegan employees. He recommends the Aegon Ethical Equity Fund as a retirement plan whether you are self-employed or self-employed. Otherwise – and one for the self-employed – it might be better to open a self-invested personal pension, so you can choose the funds yourself.

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