How African Americans are Boosting the Vegan Economy

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There is no doubt the plant-based foods industry is among the fastest-growing in the world. In the US, this market is worth over 4.5 billion dollars and has grown 5 times the pace of total food sales. The European market has experienced similar growth.

In fact, the entire planet is seeing phenomenal expansion in the plant-based foods category, with the plant-based meat market alone expected to reach a value of $27.9 billion by 2025.

Partake Foods
©Partake Foods

The plant-based movement has received a considerable amount of attention in the entertainment world, especially in the music industry. One of the most notable contributors to the vegan movement, and hence, the vegan economy, has come from people of color.

©Fenty by Rihanna

In the United States, veganism has become particularly popular among the African American community. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that 3% of all American adults identified as vegan. Of that pool, only 1% were Hispanic Americans. Among African Americans, that number was eight times higher, at 8%. In fact, it is considered the fastest growing vegan demographic.  According to Gallup, whites have reduced meat intake by 10% within the last 12 months. Black Americans, on the other hand, reported reducing their intake by 31%.

Health is a major motivator for this shift, as many fast-food restaurants are over-represented in low-income neighborhoods throughout the US, which often consist of people of color. As members of these communities learn about the effect these unhealthy foods have on their bodies, many are making the switch. Contrary to the belief that vegans come from a position of privilege, a 2018 Gallup poll found that Americans who earn less than $30,000 a year are nearly twice as likely to embrace a plant-based lifestyle compared to those earning over $75,000.

Famous people of color are helping to tip the scales in a vegconscious direction. Most members of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan identify as vegan or vegetarian, while rapper A$AP Rocky integrated veganism into his recent song “Babushka Boi.” Last year rapper Snoop Dog partnered with Dunkin’ to launch the Beyond Sausage Sandwich throughout the US, and Jay-Z, the world’s first billionaire rapper, who has also won 22 Grammy Awards, invested $1M in vegan cookie manufacturer Partake Foods, while rapper Cardi B started a vegan fashion line.

Outstanding Foods
©Outstanding Foods

Earlier this year, pop star Rihanna launched her first vegan leather line, and singer Beyoncé Knowles has supported the vegan economy in numerous ways, from launching a vegan app to the release of a 22 Day Nutrition vegan meal planning and delivery service that is estimated to generate $2.7M in annual revenues. Keith Tucker, an African American community health activist and twenty-year businessman from Seattle, produced the first plant-based hip hop event at the White House in 2015.

Of course, not all vegan entrepreneurs are celebrities. In the summer of 2018, Pinky Cole, an African American entrepreneur, opened a vegan burger joint in Atlanta and named it Slutty Vegan, which didn’t take long to attract celebrities and media attention. Such success appears to have turned Cole into a celebrity herself. Celebs such as Gabrielle Union, Ludacris and Snoop Dogg have patronized Cole’s now infamous food truck, and she plans to expand nationwide while also launching her very own “Slutty Vegan Bacon Strips”.

Overall, the investments mentioned above may seem minute when we consider how a total of over $16 billion has been invested in the US plant-based foods and dairy industry since 2009 (of which well over half has been injected since 2017). But there is no doubt the influence of celebrities of color in the plant-based economy is a force to be reckoned with, and this may only be the beginning.

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