Sans Beast is tapping into growing demand for vegan products, with industry research company IBISWorld highlighting soaring sales of vegan food products over the past five years.
“The quality of these products is also increasing at a rapid pace, with plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy foods continuously being launched,» says IBISWorld senior industry analyst, James Caldwell.
IBISWorld found the rise in veganism is being driven by concern for the environment, product innovation and rising health consciousness, with the number of people following a vegan diet in Australia expected to continue rising over the next five years.
A recent Roy Morgan poll found 2.1 million Australians are vegetarian and meat-free with veganism attracting increased attention after vegan protests across the country earlier this month blocking traffic and targeting abattoirs and farms to highlight inhumane treatment of animals.
Dan Pinne and Jess Ivers, the founders of Melbourne Vegan Tours, take a less aggressive approach to veganism.
The pair run tours in Melbourne and Sydney, four to five days a week, showcasing vegan food and retail businesses and most tours attract four or five people.
«We are not a confrontational company and our tours are really relaxed and anyone can come along and have whatever conversation they have with us,» says Pinne.
Walking around Melbourne’s CBD Pinne and Ivers point out a variety of vegan businesses from Weirdoughs pastry store to the Australian Natural Soap Company.
Pinne says growing interest in veganism prompted them to start their business in September last year.
«I think awareness and the information that is at people’s fingertips to find out about businesses, being able to make better choices and the access people now have to better choices,» Pinne says. «There are people who want to make more ethical choice in consumption in their everyday lives. It is certainly a lot easier [to be vegan] than it once was so you see so many people giving it a try and so many people sticking with it.»
However Pinne says it is common for vegan businesses to attract a certain amount of trolls and negative comments.
Wills says the vegan protests were controversial but she is focused on her own life and business.
«I am a very pragmatic person, I understand it was disturbing people’s mornings and challenging things we hold as empirical truths in our heads,» she says. «Lots of things in history were held as empirical truths and have now been overturned, like the world being flat. Vegan is a really unattractive word to a lot of people and for a lot of reasons it really bothers people.»
Moving to a plant-based diet and trying to change the face of the industry Wills works in has «confounded and challenged» some people.
«People feel judged I suppose but this is my choice and my direction I am taking,» she says.
Cara is the small business editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne