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World Vegan Day: Plant-based meats are the future, says Genelia

Venkatesha Babu Bengaluru | Updated on November 01, 2021

Globally, ‘veg meats’ are growing and this sector attracted more than $3.1 billion in funding in 2020 alone

November 1 is celebrated as World Vegan Day. Speaking on the occasion, Bollywood couple Riteish and Genelia Deshmukh who recently launched Imagine Meats a plant-based meat substitute, food venture, expressed confidence it will gain wide traction. Globally, ‘veg meats’ are growing and this sector attracted more than $3.1 billion in funding in 2020 alone. The company recently won a PETA India Vegan Food Award. In an interview with BusinessLine co-founder Genelia talks about why they chose to enter the segment and what the company’s plans are. Excerpts:

Need for Imagine Meats

While both me and Riteish come from meat-eating families, I had given up eating meat about five years ago and Riteish did about a year and half back due to Mannat (prayers). More importantly this was primarily linked to issues in the nature of cruel animal farming, health benefits and ensuring we reduced our carbon footprint. Internationally, ‘veg meats’ or plant-based substitutes for meat have been all the rage, but are still yet to become mainstream in India.

When Riteish started missing his meat, that is when searching for substitutes. we hit upon animal-free, plant-based substitutes which were as tasty, succulent and replicate the texture and experience of meat-eating. Since during the lockdown we were in the US, I decided to study nutrition at Cornell to understand the science. Imagine Meats was thus an idea born about two years back but became operational just over the last couple of months.

On differentiation

Yes, I agree that there are a few players already in this category in the Indian market. However this market is still in its infancy and the opportunity available is huge. What sets Imagine apart is the range of offering and our footprint. The plant protein-based products are made with no cholesterol, no animal hormones or antibiotics, making it an ideal solution for those who want to indulge in the rich experience of meat-eating without the guilt of harming animals.

People today are constantly on the lookout for alternative options to help supplement their protein intake and have a well-balanced meal and at the same time reduce their meat consumption. Though we have been around just the last couple of months we already offer a portfolio of nine products including seekh kabab, chicken nuggets, biryani, burger patties and sausages - . all in plant-based substitutes without meat. Our range spans breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. It has been carefully crafted in such a way that the protein content in them is as high as in any meat.

In the next month we intend to launch four more varieties including butter chicken.

Investments, retail

Right now Riteish and I have invested. But several venture capital and private equity investors have expressed support. Also, while manufacturing is done by a partner, we ensure quality control. Our protein is imported from Berlin, which is why we keep saying we are from ‘Berlin to Babhalgaon’ our native village. Initially we wanted to launch in just five markets, but since interest was high we are already in eight, and in the next four months, we will be in 25-30 major cities.

Apart from being online through our website, we are also on Nature’s Basket and Jio Mart. We will be launching more categories including shrimp, fish, mutton and pork substitutes.

Published on October 31, 2021

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