Former Meat Workers Impacting the Vegan Alternative Meat Industry


Vegan alternative protein products are having a moment. And some of the entrepreneurs guiding this trending industry come from an unexpected source: the traditional meat business.

For example, Andy Shovel and Pete Sharman owned a UK-based burger business before exploring plant-based proteins with their new company, THIS. The venture started out as just a way for the pair to create a sustainable business in a field with high growth potential, while making use of their existing food industry experience.

However, during the research phase, Shovel came across videos of current meat production tactics dealing with the treatment of animals. And he became passionate about animal welfare and offering vegan products.

The leap from owning a meat company to promoting vegan foods might seem large. But THIS isn’t the only company in this field that’s run by former meat industry professionals. Plant-based chicken provider TiNDLE comes from Timo Recker and Andre Meneses, who previously worked in meat processing and distribution, respectively. Former livestock farmer Jaap Korteweg founded two alternative meat companies, Those Vegan Cowboys and The Vegetarian Butcher.

In addition to their food industry experience, the fact that these entrepreneurs made the leap from traditional meat to vegan meat may also provide benefits as they market to consumers. Their ability to tap into their own journey could ultimately help them reach current meat eaters where they are, rather than talking down to them or making them defensive about their current eating habits.

For example, THIS utilizes humor in its marketing to appeal to customers and avoid some of the shock value that can come with comparing vegan products to meat.

Shovel explained in a recent BBC interview, “I determined at the very beginning that basically the best way to disarm people’s defensiveness…is by trying to make them laugh.”

These entrepreneurs show how much power your own personal experience can have when starting a business. Whether you’re tapping into former industry expertise or drawing on your own journey as a consumer, the ability to relate to those you’re trying to sell to can have benefits in nearly any industry.


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.