20 individuals, hailing from Belgium to Nigeria to Hong Kong, who share a common goal: transforming outdated food systems and changing the narrative around the possibilities of thriving without harming the planet. Whether it be through education, activism, research, technology, politics, entrepreneurship—or a combination of these—their life’s work is creating a better, fairer world for animals and humans alike. For the second year in a row, V-Label is showcasing the Food Heroes you ought to watch in 2023 and beyond.
Changing the paradigm
Be true to one’s values, create lasting change through entrepreneurship, activism, or advocacy, and have a full life outside your work as well? In the culture we live in, that seems like an impossible task. And yet more and more people of all ages, origins, and walks of life are called to step in when the planet needs us the most. For those and many other reasons, V-Label considers the pioneers of the plant-based, cruelty-free, fair world heroes.
Some of these Heroes have been fighting toward a plant-based future for decades, first on their own plates as children and teenagers, and then later through their work, research, and impact. Others had booming careers in finance or media, took a massive leap of faith, and never looked back.
“I’m striving to change the current paradigm that believes in using animals as food resources rather than acknowledging them as sentient beings who deserve protection,” begins Ed Winters, widely known as Earthling Ed, on his ‘why’ behind becoming a vegan educator with viral videos, helping over 30,000 people turn vegan in the last 12 months alone. Tobias Leenaert, co-founder of Proveg International, and Dr. Toni Vernelli, International Head of Communications and Marketing of Veganuary, are in the same boat: driving change through positive inspiration and by providing helpful tools and resources.
To generate change from the inside-out, food activist Marc Coloma “transformed his anger into creating Heura as a vehicle for change.” Leah Garcés, CEO and president of Mercy for Animals, has partnered with some of the largest food companies in the world with a mission to end factory farming, while Chef Babette spreads compassion and love through the wholesome meals in her LA-based restaurant, Stuff I Eat, as well as her inspiring talks. Spin the globe, and we find Vikas Garg in Singapore, having founded abillion, a community platform and movement to help a billion people save the planet.
Pioneering the future
“Modern heroes don’t wear capes: they are making milk from potatoes and microbes, chocolate without cocoa, and salmon and tuna without touching as much as a scale on a fish,” says Nikolett Konkoly, Marketing Project Manager at V-Label. She’s talking about Prof. Eva Tornberg of DUG Milks, Zoltan Toth-Czifra of Real Deal Milk, and Ahrum Pak of WNWN Food Labs, who are on the forefront of revolutionizing the dairy and chocolate industries. On the fish-front, Plantish’s Ofek Ron and Revo Foods’ Niccolo Galizzi are making waves with 3D-printed salmon analogues, while Deniz Ficicioglu is using seaweed to fix our tuna-cravings through BettaF!sh and Oceanfruit.
Verónica García-Arteaga completely turned her life upside-down by moving from Mexico to Germany to co-found Neggst, the startup pioneering the vegan egg that cracks and cooks just like the real thing. Priyanka Srinivas combines the ancestral wisdom of plants with AI to replace animal, synthetic, and extremely processed ingredients with plant-only alternatives, providing tastier, healthier, and more sustainable food solutions under her brand, The Live Green Co.
Becoming the change they wished to see in the world
“If nobody else does it, do it yourself,” is the life motto of Anja Hazekamp, member of the Party of Animals, advocating for animals and sustainability in the European Parliament. These Heroes not only do what no one has done before, but they also go where not many have gone before. Ignacia Uribe R. set out to promote plant-based eating and reduce the suffering of farm animals in Latin America through her NGO, Vegetarianos Hoy. Olaoluwa Fashola founded the first vegan food brand in Nigeria, Casa Vegan, while Ghanim Al-Sulaiti opened the first vegan restaurant, Evergreen Organics, in Doha, Qatar, before founding multiple other sustainable and vegan businesses in the region.
Get to know these Heroes better
Inspired by the humility, simplicity, and honesty of their parents, grandparents, ancestors, or simply strangers, and motivated by love and respect for animals and Earth, the Food Heroes gave humbling, witty, and incredibly motivating answers to V-Label’s questions.
What’s their story, what are their superpowers, and how do they go about building their companies all while taking care of their mental health? Get to know the people you read about in magazines, peek into their thoughts, and see what is ahead of them.
Because like true heroes, their work is not done. Not just yet. It’s time to celebrate them, get inspired by them, and get to work.
To read their stories, go to FoodHeroes20.com.
V-Label is the world’s leading vegan and vegetarian trademark, helping consumers make informed and conscious choices and supporting brands in entering and succeeding in the plant-based industry, while amplifying the stories of those driving the plant-based movement.
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