Founded by Australian duo Lara Young and Susan McCarthy, VEats is a new plant-based platform focussed on helping consumers looking for convenient plant-based options in the country. They describe the digital solution as a “first-of-its-kind” for the market, enabling users to explore all businesses with animal-free food options within a designated city. Whilst a user finds a restaurant they want to go to on the site, tables can be booked at restaurants, food can be ordered for delivery and takeaways can be queued.
The Australian-based VEats platform is currently being piloted, with a Sydney-first rollout. Coordinating the launch to happen as part of Veganuary, the founding team is thinking on an international scale. U.K. expansion is in the planning stage, with Brighton and London as first targets. Bamford Capital is on board as an equity partner and business advisor for domestic and global ambitions.
Personal experience leading the way
Young and McCarthy have more than three decades of combined business and marketing expertise. The two have worked together before, they created a joint digital marketing agency. VEats is being launched alongside as something of a passion project, particularly for Young.
“Having grown up as a meat eater all my life, it never crossed my mind that there was another way of living,” she explained in a press statement. “At the age of 36 I was overweight, overworked, managing being a wife, a mother of three, running two businesses and everything else life had to throw at me. Food was always there to comfort me.
“Being a massive foodie, I had to learn about a whole new way of eating. The journey wasn’t easy and I spent hours and days researching restaurants, checking menus, calling ahead to get them to accommodate me, and trying to veganise food through other delivery platforms. I knew that if it was hard for me, it would be hard for anyone trying to make the transition to plant-based eating. That’s when I had the idea for VEats.”
Building a network
Young and McCarthy say they have 600 businesses listed on the VEats platform already, spanning the breadth of Sydney. Included are fully plant-based companies, as well as any offering three or more animal-free food options. The two are confident that as Veganuary comes to a close, more than 50 directory inclusions will offer table booking and delivery options. Sydney was selected for the pilot launch due to its plethora of vegan hubs. Newtown has become synonymous with plant-based eating, with its ‘vegan mile’ reportedly growing by the week.
Confirmed restaurant partners include KoshariKorner, Gigi Pizzeria and recently-opened Flave. Meal delivery service Just Add Vegan has linked up as well. In a coup for the founders, Australia’s leading online ordering platform Order Up! has come on board. It will give directory-listed businesses cost-effective access to ordering and pick-up functionalities. “We are proud to be partnering with the team at VEats to help make plant-based eating easy and accessible in your everyday life,” Clive Thorpe, CCO of Order Up! said in a statement.
Australia’s plant-based market
Australia is making strides to become a leading producer of animal-free products. Wide Open Agriculture is a perfect example of a domestic company seeking to disrupt the status quo. In this case, the dairy industry, which is the country’s fourth largest sector. Having bagged $20 million at the end of last year to ramp up production of plant milk, it represents a significant consumer mindset shift.
Fellow Australian brand ProForm Foods received in the region of $5 million last year, from Harvest Road. With new facilities completed, expansion of a Sydney location is planned, alongside global distribution.
It’s not all positive news, however. Australia’s meat industry has taken umbrage at the rise in popularity of animal-free foods. It claims that consumers are confused by packaging and are accidentally buying and eating plant-based meats. Supported by a survey paid for by various meat, seafood and poultry companies, claims were later discredited in a report released by Food Frontier.
Lead image courtesy of VEats.