These 19 #SlaughterFree Startups Are Revolutionising India’s Food Ecosytem

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Home to over 1.3 billion people and poised to overtake China as the most populous country in the world, India faces great challenges ahead to combat hunger and malnutrition on the one hand, and meeting these needs in a sustainable way in a climate-stricken world. In the midst of a global pandemic that has severely disrupted the global food supply chain, the need to transform our vulnerable animal-protein-centric food system has never been more pressing. 

In India, the demand for animal protein is steadily on the rise. Contrary to popular belief that India is a country of vegetarians, in a nationwide poll, reportedly 71% of the Indian population are meat eaters. Alongside population growth and economic development that will soon position India as the largest GDP in the world, even an overall slight rise in consumption of animal protein will have major impacts on the global environment and food system.

Luckily, food techs in India are quickly innovating food solutions to bring about a more sustainable, crisis-resilient and healthier food system, from vegan dairy cheeses and milks to 100% animal-free meat alternatives – and many of them are innovating with mass affordability in mind.

“Whether software or food, Indian entrepreneurs have always had a singular focus on frugal innovation,” said Varun Deshpande, managing director of Good Food Institute (GFI) India, a nonprofit supporting alternative protein development.

“Our diverse, price-sensitive market sets high standards for taste and price, demanding resourcefulness and ingenuity in product development and marketing…We expect a proliferation of delicious, affordable, made-in-India plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation-based meat, egg, and dairy products.”

So what are some of these alternative proteins disrupting India’s food system? Let’s take a look at the 19 startups at the forefront of this movement, who Green Queen recently reached out to for the latest on what they’re up to.

Read: 5 signs that the vegan trend is hitting India in a big way

Good Dot

5 Ways Alt Protein Is Different In Asia GoodDo GoodDot FB
Source: Good Dot

Founding date: 2016

Founders: Abhishek Sinha, Stephanie Downs, Deepak Parihar, Taranum Bhatia & Shruti Sonali

Stage: Available for retail and in foodservice

Good Dot is a plant-based meat startup inspired by the founders’ concerns about health, animal welfare and the impact industrial livestock has on the planet. It launched India’s first vegan chicken analogue, and their product line now includes chicken strip-like “Veg Bytz”, a high-protein mock chicken dubbed “Proteiz” and their classic ready-to-cook product “Vegicken”. All their products are created from a mix of plant protein ingredients, such as soya, pea and wheat protein. 

Mission:

We want to revolutionise food with compassion by offering a tasty, healthy and sustainable alternative to animal meat.

Abhishek Sinha, Co-Founder of Good Dot

GoodDo

Source: GoodDO

Founding date: 2018 

Founders: Abhinav Sinha, Abhishek Sinha, Deepak Parihar & Shruti Sonali

Stage: Commercial presence

GoodDO is a vegan kiosk chain founded by the same team behind plant-based food tech Good Dot. The core mission of GoodDO is to popularise veganism by serving a range of dishes made from Good Dot’s mock meats, catering to both local appetites and those looking for an international fast food bite. Some of their dishes include chicken tikka, curry bowls, biriyani, as well as its vegan “Gurber”, which has notably reached price parity with its conventional meat counterpart at McDonald’s. They currently operate across 3 different Indian cities and will be opening more outlets soon. 

Mission:

Our aim with GoodDO is to bring vegan foods and meat alternatives into the mainstream, and enable making compassionate food choice easy, fun and affordable. 

Abhinav Sinha, Co-Founder of GoodDO

EVO Foods

Source: Evo Foods

Founding date: 2019

Founders: Kartik Dixit & Shraddha Bhansali

Stage: Seed – funded by Ryan Bethencourt and Big Idea Ventures

EVO Foods is India’s first and leading plant-based egg startup using food science and plant biochemistry to develop a vegan egg alternative, which they hope will catalyse much needed disruption for a more sustainable food system. The Mumbai-based food tech’s first product is a 100% plant-based liquid egg made from protein derived from lentils, which contains no cholesterol and antibiotics. It recently received angel investment from veteran vegan entrepreneur and investor Ryan Bethencourt as well as US-Asia impact investment firm Big Idea Ventures. 

Mission:

EVO Foods is on a mission to bring the plant-based revolution to India – we use deep food science to create “clean” protein alternatives to India’s traditional egg, dairy and meat markets.

Kartik Dixit & Shraddha Bhansali, Co-Founders of EVO Foods

Mister Veg

Source: Mister Veg

Founding date: 2018

Founders: Rupinder Singh & Simarjeet Singh 

Stage: Pre-seed – admitted to ProVeg 2020 Incubator

Mister Veg is headquartered in Faridabad and is on a mission to create cruelty-free and nutritious plant-based meat and seafood alternatives for the Indian market. They are focused on providing shelf-stable and affordable meat alternatives. In addition to vegan seafood and meat, Mister Veg’s product line includes plant-based ready-to-eat meals that contain no preservatives but can be kept at room temperature for an extended period of time. While currently self-funded by the founding partners, Mister Veg has recently been admitted to Berlin-based ProVeg Incubator’s latest 2020 batch of food tech startups and is looking to scale-up and fundraise in the future.

Mission:

We want to provide healthy, sustainable, guilt-free delicious food with the power of plants in order to spread happiness in animal life and to save the environment.

Simarjeet Singh, Co-Founder of Mister Veg

Goodmylk

Source: Goodmylk / Green Queen Media

Founding date: 2017

Founder: Abhay Rangan

Stage: Seed – funded by Ginni International, Elisa Khong, Sandeep Singh & VegInvest

Bengaluru-based Goodmylk is a plant-based dairy company that initially started as a door-to-door service. The brand now manufactures a range of dairy-free products such as cashew-oat mylk, peanut curd, plant-based butter and vegan mayonnaise, all of which are available for purchase on their own website and Alibaba-backed grocery app BigBasket. Operator of the brand, Veganarke Enterprises, recently closed its second seed funding round with US$400,000, bringing the total financing raised so far to around US$800,000. 

Mission:

Goodmylk aims to make delicious plant-based food accessible in India.

Abhay Rangan, Founder of Goodmylk

Soft Spot Foods

Source: Soft Spot Foods

Founding date: 2018

Founder: Anushi Patel

Stage: Available for retail and in foodservice

Soft Spot Foods is a vegan creamery brand specialising in 100% plant-based cheeses. Based in Mumbai, the startup produces a range of vegan cheeses made with cashew milk and coconut oil. Its product line includes cheddar cheese, parmesan, mozzarella and a cheese spread, which are sold in over 40 retail outlets across the country. Soft Spot Foods made headlines late last year when it partnered with PizzaExpress India to launch 100% plant-based cheese pizzas on its menus, which won the restaurant a 2019 Vegan Dining Award for the country’s  best vegan margherita by PETA India

Mission:

My motivation has always been environmental impact. India has one of the world’s largest populations and we are one of the largest consumers of dairy products. We want to make it easier for people to transition to a plant-based diet in order to curb the harmful effects of dairy farming.

Anushi Patel, Founder of Soft Spot Foods

Cowvathi

Source: Cowvathi

Founding date: 2017

Founder: Shasvathi Siva

Stage: Available for retail

Cowvathi is a Mumbai-based bootstrapped venture created by Siva, who gave up her career in advertising to offer vegan cheeses and dips for Indian consumers looking for cruelty-free and healthier dairy alternatives. Products include block cheeses, mozzarella and cheddar, which come in different flavours such as chilli, garlic and basil, as well as dairy-free dips and curds. Cowvathi’s line of vegan cheeses are now available in select stores in Mumbai, Khar and Chennai, while delivery is available nationwide. 

Mission:

The mission of the company is to ensure we’re able to make the best ever vegan alternatives, at affordable rates while also saving as many animals as possible and making this planet a greener and more habitable place.

Shasvathi Siva, Founder of Cowvathi

Sain

Source: Sain

Founding date: 2017

Founders: Sheena Jain & Tarun Jain

Stage: Available for retail

Headquartered in Delhi, Sain is a vegan dairy startup offering fresh almond milk products. Its almond milk comes in various flavours, including cacao, vanilla and cardamom. All their products are available online via their website, and customers can purchase bottles individually or subscribe to a monthly plan. They currently only deliver to Delhi and Gurugram, but are looking to expand to more geographical locations and increasing their dairy-free product range in the future given funding opportunities.

Mission:

Sain was started with the aim of providing fresh dairy free Almond mylks to people’s breakfast tables on an everyday basis. No preservatives no emulsifiers no chemicals…just almonds!

Sheena Jain, Co-Founder of Sain

Oh Veg

Source: Oh Veg

Founding date: 2019

Founder: Mehul Mittal 

Stage: Seed / Available for retail

OhVeg is a Jaipur-based plant-based meat startup on a mission to both reduce the carbon footprint and improve the nutritional quality of protein. Their 100% vegan product line includes meat chunks, shreds and slices that can replace conventional meat in home-cooked meals, and are made from chickpeas, wheat protein and beetroot with no additives or synthetic ingredients. Customers can choose to purchase their products online in individual packs or opt for a monthly subscription plan. Having raised an undisclosed seed funding amount, the company is looking forward to initiating their Series A round of financing in the next few months.

Mission:

We strive to inspire people to fuse more plant-based goodness in their diet to help sustain a healthier lifestyle, that’s why we made OhVeg a 100% plant-based protein with an ambition to decrease our climate impact drastically while increasing the health of as many people as possible. 

Mehul Mittal, Founder of OhVeg

Oats’Up

Source: Oats’Up

Founding date: 2020

Founder: Animesh Gupta

Stage: Pre-seed

Oats’Up is a brand created by plant-based food and beverage company Healthy Desires. While a completely bootstrapped startup and in post-validation pilot stage, they have announced that their main product will be an oat milk beverage, which isn’t watery or chalky and can be used to create dairy-free drinks or vegan recipes. They have begun generating traction through collaborations with local gyms and cafés.

Mission:

Oats’Up took birth to change people’s perspective towards oats from healthy & boring to super healthy & interesting through oat based beverages which are 100% plant-based and without all those unnecessary stuff that nobody wants in their food.

Animesh Gupta, Founder of Oats’Up

Plantmade 

Source: Plantmade

Founding date: 2019

Founder: Rahul Dewan

Stage: Pre-seed

Plantmade is a vegan brand creating plant-based alternatives to popular animal-based food items such as egg, meat and dairy. While little details about the startup have been revealed, Plantmade has announced that their first product is a vegan mung-bean-based scrambled egg or anda bhurji, which will match the nutritional profile of regular eggs without any artificial flavourings or preservatives. Other products in the pipeline include a vegan version of paneer, which is a fresh cheese popular in India. 

Mission:

We at Plantmade are on a mission to create significant environmental and social impact by making plant-made sources of food easily accessible.

Prakarshi Pulkit, Chief of Innovation at Plantmade

PlantByte Foods

Source: PlantByte

Founding date: 2017

Founder: Arthi Deiva

Stage: Available for retail

PlantByte is a Bangalore-based startup that aims to prove 100% plant-based and natural functional foods suitable for people with an active lifestyle, with a focus on improving people’s health while protecting the planet. Their main product brand is STRIVE, a vegan protein shake beverage that comes in several flavours, which is made with pea protein as its primary ingredient. It is the first company in India to launch a completely vegan ready-made protein drink. 

Mission:

We want people to experience better health, through smart, functional, plant-based foods such as our ready-to-drink, daily nutrition shake that is nutritionally more robust than it’s dairy and many non-dairy alternatives in India. 

Arthi Deiva, Founder of PlantByte Foods

GREENEST

Source: Greenest

Founding date: 2017

Founders: Gaurav Sharma, Kannan Krishnamoorthy & Dinesh Jain

Stage: Bootstrapped with plans to raise a seed round after institutional scale up

GREENEST is a plant-based foods brand created by Upstablish Food Technologies Private Limited, a food tech company working to address the fast-growing protein and nutritional needs of India. The brand currently has a line of plant-based kebabs, meatballs, burger patties and keema, all made out of textured soy proteins and already sold in 9 foodservice locations across New Delhi and Bangalore. All of Greenest’s vegan protein products contain no additives, preservatives or artificial flavours, and the brand is looking to incorporate pea proteins in the future. In the coming months, Greenest has plans to launch its plant-based products across over 200 locations across India, and also hope to retail to consumers next year.

Mission:

Greenest wants to bring about a mammoth change in the way Indians consume protein and wants to contribute in building the plant based food space in Asia by creating the next generation of plant based meals to improve the nutrition, taste and environmental footprint of our food.

Gaurav Sharma, Co-Founder of Greenest / Upstablish

Vezlay

Source: Vezlay

Founding date: 2011

Founder: Amit Bajaj

Stage: Available in retail

Based out of Delhi, Vezlay manufactures a wide of range of ready-to-cook vegan-friendly meat substitute products made primarily from soy protein and wheat protein. Many of theses cater directly to Indian cuisine, such as its soya seekh kabab and shami kabab, but it also offers plant-based substitutes to international fast food fare such as its soya vegget, a vegan version of chicken nuggets made from textured soy protein.

Mission:

Our mission is to provide innovative nutritious foods and meat substitutes to our generation in a cost-effective manner.

Promod Kr, General Manager at Vezlay

Live Yum Foods

Source: Live Yum

Founding date: 2019

Founders: Taanya Ravi & Victor Sjodin

Stage: Available for retail and B2B

Live Yum Foods is a plant-based cheese startup based out of Bangalore offering vegan mozzarella, cheddar cheese shreds and cream cheese made from potato starch, refined coconut oil and vegan natural flavours. The startup, which has so far received angel funding, was created from the founders’ passion to fight animal abuse across India’s factory farms and slaughterhouses. It hopes to be able to roll out more plant-based dairy alternatives in the future such as butter. Currently, the brand ships nationwide and is also available in a number of foodservice locations in the country.

Mission:

We aim to be India’s premier vegan and allergen-free cheese company priced for the people.

Taanya Ravi, Co-Founder & Executive Director at Live Yum Foods

Supplant Foods

Founding date: 2019

Founder: Chirag Sabunani

Stage: Self-funded

Supplant Foods is a startup focused on developing vegan ingredients for the ready made plant-based snacks sector. It has created a highly functional and flavourless chickpea flour that is suitable for use in plant-based dairy products, which is currently in patent-pending stage. Supplant is also working on a range of functional proteins derived from lentils and other unique crops in India for other vegan protein alternatives.

Mission:

Supplant is developing and manufacturing innovative functional ingredients that help create a sustainable, slaughter free world. 

Chirag Sabunani, Founder of Supplant

ClearMeat

Founding date: 2018

Founders: Siddharth Manvati & Pawan Dhar

Stage: Pre-seed

ClearMeat is India’s first cultivated meat company growing slaughter-free and eco-friendly animal protein in its labs. Its first product expected to launch around mid-2021 is a lab-grown chicken keema, and the company has already received interest from B2B chains in Israel, Turkey and its home country, India. Currently, ClearMeat has already attracted funding from Gastrotrope, a venture under Tokyo-based angel investment firm Mistletoe.

Mission:

The mission of ClearMeat is to be India’s first eco-friendly, nutritious and affordable cell based meat initiative.

Siddharth Manvati, Co-Founder of ClearMeat

Devigere Biosolutions

Founding date: 2020

Founders: Smitha Devigere & Abhishek Devigere

Stage: Self-funded

Headquartered in Davangere, Devigere Biosolutions is a plant-based startup working on extracting and functionalising proteins from native Indian crops to supply the plant-based sector while boosting income for local farmers. The main crops that the startup is extracting plant proteins from are horse gram, which it has already created a prototype for, and moth bean.

Mission:

We aim to produce sustainable and clean-label plant protein concentrates from Indian pulses.

Smitha Devigere, Co-Founder of Devigere Biosolutions

Schoolboy Robotics

Founding date: 2017

Founder: Shubhankar Takle & Nihal Singh

Stage: Self-funded

Schoolboy Robotics initially began as an education and 3D-printing startup, but with its expertise in the field of casting and 3D-printing, it is now planning to rebrand as a company creating scaffolds for cultivated meats. They have recently secured a Biotechnology Ignition Grant from the Government of India Department of Biotechnology to drive their transition into the cultivated food tech field, which upon receiving the funds they plan to use to conduct proof-of-concept experiments. While the startup’s lab work has been disrupted by the pandemic, they are using their resources to 3D-print personal protective equipment to help combat the coronavirus.

Mission:

Our mission is to be the best ancillary company in the cellular agriculture world.

Shubhankar Takle, Founder of Schoolboy Robotics

Lead image designed by Green Queen Media.


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