Imagine Meats, the vegan meat brand created by Bollywood celebrity couple Riteish and Genelia Deshmukh, has just launched in Mumbai. Available online and in retail locations across the city, the range includes plant-based chicken, mutton, kebabs and keemas. Two years in the making, the founders say the anticipated rollout was intended to coincide with the Hindu festival Ganesh Chaturthi to help consumers celebrate ethically and sustainably.
Indian megastars Riteish and Genelia Deshmukh have just launched their plant-based meat brand, Imagine Meats. Rolling out across Mumbai on Friday (September 10), the brand’s range of vegan meat alternatives and ready meals will be available online through its direct-to-consumer website and e-commerce platform Nature’s Basket, as well as in Reliance Retail outlets in the city.
Imagine Meats will offer a “diverse selection” of plant-based meats and ready meals, including keemas, kebabs, nuggets and burger patties, as well as meatless chicken and mutton biryanis. The offerings have been developed over the past two years, with recipes tailored to Indian culinary traditions to cater to local tastes.
The startup’s line-up of vegan meat alternatives contain a base of pea protein, and other 100% plant-based ingredients such as coconut oil.
Riteish and Genelia Deshmukh first announced their plans to build a plant-based meat brand back in July last year, at the time saying they would be working with global ingredients firm Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and with support from nonprofit GFI India.
The Deshmukhs said they intentionally debuted Imagine Meats on the same day as Ganesh Chaturthi “so consumers can have their indulgence and remain vegetarian during the Hindu holiday season”.
‘Solution to meat cravings’
Commenting on the launch of Imagine Meats in Mumbai, Riteish Deshmukh said that he hopes the brand will provide a “solution” to mainstream consumers’ meat cravings, offering an alternative that is healthier, sustainable and ethical, but does not compromise on taste.
“As a former carnivore, I know that millions like me are looking for a solution to their meat cravings,” he shared. “We’ve worked for over 2 years to make this a reality. With our wide range of craveable plant-based meats, we want to enable everybody to Imagine Meat.”
“Imagine Meats is our labour of love, allowing people to upgrade their meat and eat without guilt in line with their values,” added Genelia Deshmukh, who further revealed that the brand will soon be expanding distribution to more Indian cities in the near future.
The startup also plans to add more dishes to its range, as well as forge new partnerships with other companies.
India’s plant-based industry
The launch of Imagine Meats comes as the Indian plant-based industry is quickly picking up speed. Just this week, Indian authorities announced a draft of the country’s first-ever food safety standards for vegan food, which includes guidelines on labelling, definitions and logo certifications.
While foreign brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods dominate the global vegan meat market, homegrown startups offering locally-tailored alternatives are now emerging in India—and investors are bullish about their future.
Indian plant-based pioneer GoodDot, for instance, which also runs the country’s first vegan fast food chain GoodDo, secured the first VC funding within the Indian plant-based meat segment last month. Vegan dairy maker Goodmylk and plant protein ingredients firm Proeon have since announced funding rounds as well.
For GFI India managing director Varun Deshpande, the proliferation of plant-based innovation in India is going to provide the necessary solutions to build a more sustainable food system.
“The clock is ticking on climate change, food and water insecurity, and public health crises like future pandemics. Plant-based meats offer huge promise to provide consumers and producers with a simple switch rather than a sacrifice,” he says. “The launch of Imagine Meats is an exciting development towards making this a reality and helping the Indian market for smart protein truly take off.”
All images courtesy of Imagine Meats, unless otherwise credited.