Interest in veganism is on the rise. It’s been Googled 550% more over the past five years. The number of vegans in the US grew six times to 19.6 million in 2017, from nearly 4 million in 2014.
Though not exactly veganism (purists would agree), 1 in 3 Americans have stopped or reduced their meat consumption.
That means even some of us carnivores are replacing wagyu with tempeh, statistically speaking.
Snapshot: The Rise of the Vegan
Source: Google Trends, ReportBuyer, OnePoll
Over in the APAC region, people are catching on quick. Australia was the most popular country for veganism in 2018. New Zealand came in at third place. So it’s safe to say the world is shifting towards a more plant-based diet. Even partially.
(I’ve learned it’s often called ‘Flexitarian‘, and there are even cookbooks, an active subreddit, and meet-up groups. Some call it ‘Reducetarian’, like Brian Kateman whose conference is coming up soon in Washington DC – meet our editor Louisa there!)
But despite this rise, vegans still find it hard to know where to eat out or find vegan products, according to Vikas Garg, founder and CEO of abillionveg.
Enter, abillionveg. Fresh out with $2.6m funding in its pocket.
“We’re solving a real problem that people who live a certain lifestyle face multiple times a day,” said Garg, speaking exclusively to AFN.
The Singapore-based ‘Yelp for vegans’ recently closed a $2m seed round led by US-based 500 Startups, bringing its total funding to $2.6m. Other big names include 1/0 Capital, Calibre Ventures and Blue Horizon.
It’s yet another pat on the back for the ag + food tech scene in Singapore.
Check out why we think Singapore’s the Asian hotbed for startups, here.
And despite the veganism stats that would point to greater interest in the US, Garg says he’s surprised that most of the interest came closer to home.
“I’m pleasantly surprised how much interest and capital ended up coming in from investors in Southeast Asia, rather than the US, where I expected most would have come from.”
Securing the funding, however, came with a degree of difficulty. This, despite it taking only three months.
“We’re too niche, small, young for the big consumer platform investors. On top of that, we weren’t within the wheelhouse of investors that are looking at the plant-based space. They mostly look at food products,” shared Garg. The fresh dough goes to expanding their team. Garg expects it to last his team till early 2021, when he expects to kick off the next round of funding.
So how does abillionveg work?
The app provides users a platform where they post reviews and recommendations for vegan-friendly food, restaurants, and products. abillionveg also operates on a ‘good begets good’ belief system” users that post reviews earn credits, which can be converted to donations for animal and marine life welfare organizations.
“We have plant-based food and product reviews in 91 countries and growing,” said Garg. “We want to help a billion people join the (plant-based) movement by 2030 and donate $1 billion to support animal welfare causes.”
Since its launch in May 2018, abillionveg has built up a catalogue of 50,000 reviews. That’s across 30,000 vegan dishes and over 8,000 consumer products. And Garg says its user base is growing rapidly in developed countries.
“We see 40% to 50% growth per month in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK.”
Though the abillionveg founder identifies social media giants TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google and Instagram as competitors, we at AFN think the growing number of related apps on the Apple store and Google Play are tugging at the heartstrings of abillionveg’s target audience. Vegans are lapping up apps like Happy Cow, Forks Over Knives, Vanilla Bean, Food Monster and mainstay Yelp (who recently added a ‘Liked by Vegans’ filter in December).
What sort of vegan apps do you use? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.