With Veganuary in full swing, we caught up with campaign co-founder Matthew Glover to learn more about his pie-oneering spirit, discover what #plantpositivity means to him and find out what’s on the menu…
Veganuary is quite frankly a roaring success. With over half a million people signing up every year, it’s now a mainstay in everyone’s calendars. How does it feel to have started this movement?
Jane and I are really happy with the year-on-year growth in participation numbers, but also with the wider impact on the food scene in the UK. There is such a buzz around January now, with new menus and products appearing every year and making headlines. It really helps normalize vegan food and encourages non-vegans to try it. So, yes, it’s definitely been a big success in the UK and there’s been terrific growth in Germany too, but we are a sleeping giant in many other places, so there’s lots still to do. The Veganuary team is amazing though – strategic, dedicated and determined – and they’re taking things to the next level.
Would you say starting Veganuary is the most pioneering thing you’ve ever done, or is there something else that tops it?
I would think so. It was the right message packaged in the right way at the right time, and it really took off with the media. Starting an initiative from scratch that becomes part of the public consciousness, part of the zeitgeist, that’s really fantastic. We’re in the dictionary, we were featured on the studio backdrop in Have I Got New for You, and even mentioned on Gavin and Stacey. So, yeah, we are proud of that.
Can you tell us more about what drew you to Clive’s and why you chose to invest?
Well, first, we really love pies! But more than that, we really connected with Esther and could see huge potential in the brand. We already invest in alternative proteins, which mimic meat, but not everyone wants a meaty alternative, and many people are looking for something different. Pies, quiches, tarts and nut roasts are centre-of-plate items which directly displace animal products, so, we saw a great range and a growing market. We saw real potential to help Esther and the team grow the brand over the next five to ten years into an even bigger player in the UK and overseas.
PHOTO: Matthew at the Clive’s Bakery in Devon, stood with Esther Pearson (Clive’s Pie Chief). This was in celebration of Clive’s becoming part of the Veg Capital family, marking a historic moment for the business.
Clive’s is just one of the businesses you’ve invested in via Veg Capital. What exactly are you looking for when it comes to plant-based businesses to back?
We look for the businesses that will have the biggest impact, so the most important metric for us is their potential for displacing animals from the food system. Our mission is to end the suffering of farmed animals and to help heal the planet, so we back the most exciting products that can replace animals on the plate. If they’re a good fit with our mission, we then look at the opportunities from a more typical capital investor perspective: does the company have a good team, sales traction, business plan, and the potential to make profits? And, of course, we only invest in companies where we like the taste of the product range.
We know you’re a fan of our pies, but what we’d really like to know is – if you could put anything in a pie, what would it be?
It didn’t take Esther long to identify my preference for big flavours and hearty fillings. So, the curry flavours really appeal to me and, as I’m also a fan of meat alternatives, any vegan version of a chicken or beef pie will get my vote.
We’ve seen lots of exciting news about your new faux-chicken VFC, what inspired you to take on the Colonel?
It was a strategic decision. Chickens are killed in vast numbers, far greater than any other land animal, and the conditions that almost all the birds are forced to endure throughout their short lives are unconscionable. And, while the trend for red meat consumption looks to be declining, the taste for chicken continues to grow, and fried chicken outlets are everywhere, driving this trend. We wanted an intervention, to offer a delicious viable alternative and to show people that they can get everything they love about fried chicken, without the profoundly negative consequences of it.
At Clive’s we’re all about plant positivity. If you could change just one thing in the world with plant positivity, what would it be?
Well, the amazing thing about eating plants is that it doesn’t just positively impact one thing. What is good for animals is good for the planet and is also good for people. My personal mission is to spare farmed animals a life of misery, but if choosing a vegan diet helps the planet to heal, protects wild places and wild animals, and prevents a global pandemic and antibiotic-resistant pathogens, then those are some pretty fantastic bonuses.
And finally, we’d love to get an insight into the Glover household during Veganuary. What’s on the menu?
Pies. Lots of pies.
Mmmm….Pie. Discover the whole Clive’s range here.