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Sonalie Figueiras. Credit: Lucky Fish Photography

Green Queen’s Sonalie Figuieras on designing better plant-based and alternative proteins

February 9, 2023

Editor’s Note: New Food Order is a podcast brought to by AFN’s parent company AgFunder in collaboration with Food+Tech Connect, co-hosted by AgFunder’s Louisa Burwood-Taylor and Food+Tech Connect’s Danielle Gould.

The views expressed in the podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the team at AFN or AgFunder.


How might we design plant-based, cultivated meat, and precision fermented alternative proteins in the most people and planet-friendly ways?

In this week’s episode of New Food Order, we speak with Sonalie Figueiras, a Hong Kong-based social entrepreneur and fellow journalist. I’ve known Sonalie for many years now as she is editor-in-chief of Green Queen, a news and lifestyle site that’s been at the forefront of covering health, sustainability, and the environment as it relates to our food system from Asia and across the globe with particularly strong reporting on the alternative protein space.

While Sonalie is a vegan, she’s never been a combative member of the vegan lobby echoing her peers and looking to replace animals in the food chain at any cost, which can be offputting. Instead, she has always welcomed debate and open conversation on the best path forward, as well as critiques of the alternative protein space. Sonalie is also the co-founder and CEO of organic sourcing platform Ekowarehouse and climate tech software-as-a-service Source Green, which helps consumer brands quit plastic packaging thanks to proprietary plastic reduction software. And she’s an advisor to multiple mission-driven startups and NGOs, and a venture partner to several VC funds, so she has a broad perspective beyond alt protein too. I’ve come to respect her enormously.

So when we were planning our series of episodes about food product design, we knew we had to speak with her given how thoughtful she is about how these products should be made to be truly better for our planet but also importantly, and often forgotten, for people. Her perspective from Asia is a welcome addition to a loud Western industry too.

I think this quote from her really sums it up:

“I don’t know many companies who are really talking about the ethics of their supply chain in the plant-based world, other than the animal ethics part… I’m talking about the human ethics part of things and fair labor and making sure that everyone who works throughout your supply chain and in your company is being respected and paid a living wage and has a chance at a life with dignity.”

What to expect in this episode:

  • The complexity of designing people and planet-friendly products
  • Sonalie’s five product design principles 
  • The good and the bad of plant-based products
  • Sonalie’s take on slowing plant-based sales
  • Why plant-based companies need to focus on the human ethics of their supply chain 
  • How biotech companies might think about designing people and planet-friendly products
  • Why governments need to invest in cultivated meat and precision fermentation technology

How to listen

You can listen in the player below, or wherever you get your podcasts. And please remember to subscribe and share with anyone you think will find it interesting.

*Giveaway details*

In this week’s episode, you’ll also hear us introduce a new giveaway with our partners at New Hope Network to offer ALL of our listeners an exclusive 25% off discount for an Expo West 2023 badge and ONE lucky listener will have the opportunity to win a free booth at Expo West 2024 ($8k value).

To enter, do the following by February 17th:

  • Head to New Food Order’s show page on Apple Podcasts
  • Make sure you are subscribed
  • Leave us a review – good or bad – but hopefully good! (Scroll to the bottom of the page to do so.)
  • Screenshot the review and email it to Meg at [email protected] – if you’re interested in the 25% discount to this year’s Expo, please call it out in the email.
  • Lastly, click here to register to receive our newsletters. In addition to New Food Order content, AgFunder and Food+Tech Connect publish the leading newsletters for the food and agtech community.
  • Those who follow New Hope Network, Food + Tech Connect and AgFunder on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn will receive a double entry.

Good luck!

New Food Order is sponsored by FoodShot Global and New Hope Network.

It is hosted by Danielle Gould and me, Louisa Burwood-Taylor

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