Plant-based eating is growing drastically as more and more evidence has concluded the diet may be better for human and planetary health. Sales of plant-based meat and dairy products reached a whopping $29.4 billion last year and could increase to over $160 billion by 2030. And while turkey is the traditional meal of choice on Thanksgiving, an estimated 45 million of them will be plant-based.
Just ahead of the holidays, here are three companies offering vegan Thanksgiving alternatives (that aren’t Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods).
Founded in 2018 by then 19-year-old entrepreneur Ben Pasternak, Simulate creates vegan simulations of meat products and accepts customer feedback to create better iterations that more closely resemble their animal-derived counterparts. The startup claims to have achieved the most indistinguishable taste and texture from chicken thanks to its advanced soy protein technology.
NUGGS, the brand’s most well-known product, are made with a proprietary blend of soy and wheat and have undergone several rounds of consumer-driven changes to bring them as close to the flavor and texture of chicken nuggets as possible. In addition to NUGGS, Simulate also released DISCS — plant-based chicken patties currently in their first iteration — and plans to release dinosaur-shaped NUGGS in the future.
To date, Simulate has raised $57 million in funding from various venture capital firms and angel investors and its sales are projected to reach $40 million in 2021. As a vegan Thanksgiving alternative, Simulate’s products are available at retailers nationwide, including Walmart, Whole Foods, Target and Sam’s Club.
The Very Good Butchers
Believing in “butchering beans, not animals,” The Very Good Butchers’ plant-based meats are handcrafted with only whole-food ingredients, including beans, grains, vegetables and spices. The Canadian company offers a slew of boxes with items like vegan bratwursts, bacon, burgers, charcuterie meats and cheeses.
Launched in 2016, The Very Good Butchers started out selling its products at local farmer’s markets and quickly expanded its offerings through various retailers. In 2018, the company made an appearance on Dragon’s Den — the Canadian version of the American investment reality TV show Shark Tank — and despite not receiving an investment, the Dragons were intrigued. The Very Good Butchers recently went public to scale production capacity and move forward with a rollout to North American grocery stores.
For Thanksgiving, the company is offering a Festive Box that includes its best-selling Stuffed Beast, along with vegan burgers, bangers, pepperoni and cheeses.
Looking and tasting like its chicken counterpart, Daring Foods offers four plant-based chicken products, including Original, Breaded, Lemon & Herb and Cajun. Founded by Ross Mackay in 2018, the company’s mission is to eliminate chickens from the food system by providing a viable vegan alternative. The brand’s Original chicken pieces are made of only a handful of ingredients, including soy protein, sunflower oil, water and spices.
Just last month, Daring Foods secured $65 million in Series C funding, bringing the company’s total funding to $113.8 million. Notable investors include record producer Steve Aoki, professional tennis player Naomi Osaka, hedge fund manager Chase Coleman and professional football player Cameron Newton, as well as Drake, who invested in a previous funding round.
The company’s products can be found in Whole Foods, Sprouts and Kroger, with its products set to launch into 3,000 Walmart locations soon. As a vegan Thanksgiving alternative, Daring Foods has many plant-based eaters covered.