Plant Based Solutions is a new consultancy offering sales and marketing advice to vegan food manufacturers, and also helping businesses that buy, sell, and serve food to offer more and better vegan options.
Some food manufacturers PBS is working with include The Vegg, DF Mavens ice cream, Treeline Cheese, and Chicago Vegan Foods. You’ll get to try products from those companies and more at the Plant Based Solutions launch party along with a great menu (details below) from the always excellent Chickpea & Olive.
The launch party will be held from 6-8:30pm on Saturday, January 12 at Metropolitan Community Church of New York, 446 West 36th Street, between 9th & 10th Avenues, NYC.
Plant Based Solutions founder David Benzaquen is a long-time vegan, and has worked as a lobbyist and political organizer for various organizations, including three years at Farm Sanctuary. (Do you remember a guy who used to show up at Vegan Drinks dressed in a cow suit? That’s David!)
I asked him a bunch of questions about PBS and Saturday’s event.
Jason: Why start Plant Based Solutions now? Is the U.S. more ready for than this than we would have been, say, 5 years ago?
David: 2013 is the breakout year for veganism. The last few years have seen a huge jump in flexitarianism with the success of campaigns like Meatless Mondays. Now, as meat and dairy prices skyrocket, and Americans are becoming more aware of the impacts of a plant-based diet on health, the environment, and animal protection, veganism is on the rise like never before. Just weeks ago, the Values Institute at DGWB, a national consumer research institute predicted veganism to be one of the top 5 health trends of 2013. In their release, they said, “Last year’s rise of the flexitarians is foreshadowing a trend toward meatless eating and outright veganism, vegetarianism’s older brother. Look for herbivore-accommodating menus at restaurants on both coasts to start migrating to mid-America in 2013.”
In addition, the market for vegan businesses has blossomed in recent years with major financial backers (like venture capital giant Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield, and Byers) flooding the industry with funding for meat and dairy alternatives.
Why are you the guy to start this company?
Growing up in a family surrounded by people working in finance, I learned from an early age how to speak and think like a business person. I then was fortunate to spend years building friendships with hundreds of compassionate and strategic leaders in the animal protection and vegan food worlds. As someone with a background in lobbying (ethically) and community organizing, I know how to sell the purest product: ideas. Plant-Based Solutions is about helping to sell fantastic products and telling a story of a world in which doing good is good business.
Do you have any initiatives underway you can tell us about?
We are so fortunate that we can work with both larger, more established companies, and smaller businesses that are just launching. In the next few months, we’ll be working on some exciting product rollouts that take quality to another level in vegan cheese, desserts, and more.
We are also working with some chain restaurants and food service providers that are hungry for opportunities to meet their customers’ demand for vegan foods across the nation. All I can say for now is to stay tuned to PlantBasedSolutions.co to hear more!
OK, that’s vague, but I understand you can’t give away too many details yet!
What’s your advice to our readers who have a relationship with an institution that should have more vegan food (a school, workplace, restaurant, cultural institution, etc.)?
Ask for it! Businesses depend on customers. As ethical consumers, our buying power is our vote for good, but we can’t vote if we don’t ask stores to put our favorite products on the ballot!
So many stores and restaurants I’ve encouraged to carry vegan products tell me that doing so was the best business decision they’ve ever made and that they just wish someone had introduced them to those products sooner.
Are you dealing with food only, or also animal-product alternatives in other industries?
Right now we are focusing on food and we are excited at all the opportunities to keep us busy there. Time will tell what we do in the future.
I was psyched to see Chickpea & Olive is doing the food for your launch party. What’s on the menu?
I’m psyched too! The folks at Chickpea & Olive really prove how great vegan, organic, local food can be. They are also among the nicest people I have the pleasure of working with and I’m thrilled to have them catering the event. The mouthwatering menu featuring some of the hottest vegan foods is:
- Caesar salad lettuce cup
- Bruschette three ways
- Portobello mousse
- Butternut squash escabeche with dandelion pesto
- Treeline black pepper cheese
- Raviolo fritto stuffed with Treeline cashew cheese and beets, with a lemon-caper hollandaise sauce (sauce made with The Vegg).
- Arancini stuffed with Gardein vegan chicken breast, Teese coconut cheese mozzarella, and marinara sauce
- Portobello steak spiadini with cauliflower, dandelion greens, and a polenta fritter
- Chocolate ganache tartlet with DF Mavens mango ice cream
Yum! I hope lots of SuperVegan readers can make it to the event to eat that food.
Congratulations on the launch, and I’m looking forward to Plant Based Solutions making this a more vegan world!