In a world where health and sustainability are at the forefront and the plant-based sector is rapidly picking up in India, Vecan Foods joins the cohort of ‘smart protein’ startups with their unique offerings - delicious, sustainable plant-based products. Today’s flexitarians are looking to incorporate healthier, cleaner, and more affordable products, without compromising on convenience and most importantly, great and familiar taste. With ‘healthy alternatives’ feeling like they involve a sacrifice, people are often unwilling to give up beloved flavors and indulgences, and as a result don’t end up exploring plant-based foods. Enter Vecan - where founders Mahima Gupta and Guneet Kaur are on a mission to change this narrative.
Mahima Gupta says, “We’ve categorically chosen not to label any Vecan products with ‘mock-something’ nomenclature. We have a great tasting product standing in its own right, with a clean label, high-protein and high-fiber content, and no compromise. As moms and women running our own homes, we know what it’s like to have to secretly mask vegetables into our kids’ meals or find tasty ways to incorporate health into our families’ daily diet. We’ve finally figured out a way to do this seamlessly, and we want to now share this with our community!”
Vecan has products that set themselves apart in a couple of ways. The founders noticed that in India, the most commonly available protein options for vegetarians are paneer and soya, and that people don’t seem to find these as exciting. But not anymore. Say hello to products like ‘The Navabi Galouti’, ‘The Sunday Sausage’, ‘The Veggie-roni’, and ‘The Honest Nugget’ - some of Vecan’s plant-based snacks enriched with the goodness of pea protein, tofu, fresh vegetables, and pantry staples such as spices and condiments found in every kitchen.
“You can scan the label and understand what every single word means. We have kept our products clean so that the consumer is always aware of what they are consuming - no secrets,” says Guneet Kaur. Speaking about the startup’s raison d’etre, she adds, “On and off for two years, Vecan emerged as a passion project from within our kitchens. We wondered why products like these aren’t available in India, where the population is clearly and largely flexitarian, and requires protein rich alternatives to conventional meat. With one of us being born and raised abroad and the other having spent a few years living away from India, we knew what was happening in the plant-based space globally, and what India was missing. Now, with Vecan, we want to bring all of that home.”
Sharing insights on the ‘early adopter’ of plant-based meat in India, Nicole Rocque, senior innovation specialist at the Good Food Institute India (GFI India) - expert nonprofit, thought leader, and convening body within the smart protein sector - notes that, “Young 25-44 year olds, living in urban cities in India are increasingly eating like their global counterparts. They view plant-based meats, eggs, and dairy as a more sustainable, secure, and just alternative where they can savor the dishes and flavors they know and love, without the guilt associated with conventional animal agriculture. At GFI India, we’ve supported a number of startups to enter the plant-based sector and we’re excited to have Vecan bring their fresh perspective and fantastic products to the table.”
Vecan is currently retailing across Delhi-NCR through their website www.vecan.in and online platforms like Vegan Dukan and Foodie Soodie; the team is now looking to widen their approach with multiple B2B avenues, modern trade and distribution in other states to establish a pan-India presence. “We want to be featured on menus in cafes and restaurants, in schools & hospitals, at events, and also find a special place in people’s homemade meals. Available to all, convenient for all, dish by dish, plate by plate,” says Mahima.