There are countless examples of how products and movements are changing the world for the better, and they want you to pay attention. But how have things changed? By exploring the pathways to veganism or experiencing social movements, we can understand how social innovation, through its distinctive approaches, is making the switch to veganism one of the most dynamic forces reshaping the world. As such, this article introduces some of the recent social innovation developments in the unstoppable rise of veganism. Now, before we get started, you can also delve into our previous 8 pioneer social innovations in food.



Vegan Baby Food

Against a backdrop of the exponential growth in media coverage and greater public information on dairy and meat consumption and its impact across different fields (from animal welfare to human health, climate change to capital markets), there has been a considerable increase in the number of people adopting vegan diets. Now, as veganism moves from the margins into the mainstream, parents are ready to feed their babies a vegan diet as giving up meat takes on the form of a virtuous sacrifice. Yet, when it comes to children, especially infants, it is crucial that their food, in addition to being perfect, aids in populating a healthy microbiome while simultaneously meeting the needs of their rapidly developing bodies. Currently, several companies are committed to helping raise thriving children through the creation of vegan, organic, gluten-free, non-GMO and BPA-free food products; food products that ensure a homemade taste for people’s offspring. Examples such as Once Upon A Farm, Earth’s Best and Happy Family can be considered to adopt a concrete social innovation stance due to their efforts in raising healthy individuals while remaining grounded in a humble appreciation for the earth. By avoiding foods that support exploitation, these companies are promising to provide better, purer, safer and more sustainable products. What more could a parent ask for?


Vegan Leather

Is vegan leather eco-friendly? You can bet it is! Vegan leather alternatives are set to be the next thing in the fashion future as they become readily available to consumers seeking more sustainable and cruelty-free options to animal-derived leather. Vegan leather (also known as synthetic leather) is not obtained from animals but instead comes from a great array of biodegradable materials. The list of materials may be endless but they include mushrooms, pineapples, cork, waxed or glazed cotton, paper, coffee, grass, apples, leaves, even wine! While the production of vegan leather is being scaled up, it offers the potential to dominate the existing animal leather market. Inspiring social innovation examples of companies creating vegan leather can be found in MuSkin (a 100 % vegetable layer alternative to animal leather created from a kind of big parasitic fungus), The Apple Girl (a company that turns food waste into a durable alternative to leather), Happy Genie (creating luxury handbags made from apples) and Nat2 (a high-end sneaker brand turning real coffee into vegan luxury sneakers). Have we reached the end of animal leather just yet? Undoubtedly, the long-term growth and success of synthetic leathers will ultimately come down to consumer preference, so pick your products carefully and make sure your choice matters!


Vegan Cosmetics

Key players across the globe are focusing more on innovation in cosmetics products and, surprisingly, back in 2017, the ‘global vegan cosmetics market size was estimated at USD 12.9 billion’ [1]. In addition, vegan beauty seems to be the next thing in the cosmetics industry and conscious consumers are the ones driving social innovation in ethical cosmetics. The growing acceptance of vegan lifestyles among millennials can also be seen through the implementation of several regulations from government authorities, along with the significant rise in the influence of companies, social media and beauty blogs that communicate messages around the essence of the shift to cruelty-free and vegan products and services. Noteworthy examples of social innovation in vegan beauty can be found with Milk Makeup with their use of 100% vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free ingredients, Arbonne for being an eco-friendly health and beauty company committed to a green journey for more than 35 years and that has never tested its products on animals, Pacifica for being a 100% vegan and cruelty-free award-winning innovative natural beauty company, and Charlotte Tilbury who has an incredible range of vegan beauty products for every demanding customer interested in cutting out animal-derived products. Ready to give yourself a treat? No need for second thoughts as being an ethical consumer shapes the world for the better.


Veganism As Climate Action

Are you aware that switching to a plant-based diet can aid in tackling climate change? At least that’s the message supported in a major report by UN experts [2] as the high consumption of meat and dairy produce fuels global warming. Yet the question remains as to how exactly going vegan helps to prevent climate change? It seems there are several food choices we can make to help the planet, with eating natural, vegan cuisine, knowing what you are eating and supporting local food at farmers’ markets among some of the options available to consumers that can help protect the environment and its climate. Indeed, this is a complex, wicked issue as there are more problems involved and several key actors need to take a stand to help resolve them. Apparently, various actors have started raising awareness of the potential benefits that a vegan diet could bring in helping to secure our environment, with, for instance, one notable example found in the UK, where people are urging the government ‘to make a new regulation that would require all public sector menus to offer a vegan option that is available every day without having to request it’ [3]. We agree there is no Planet-B, and merely switching to a vegan diet or paper straws will not save the planet. Lower consumption of animal products is indeed necessary and veganism is vital to help save the world, yet even if every single person were to become vegan tomorrow, it would still not solve this systemic problem [4].


Meat Replacements

Vegan meat substitutes? Are they really necessary? Well, there are several reasons as to why consumers may try and incorporate meat substitutes into their daily routine, and eating less meat appears to be beneficial for both individuals and the planet. Ethical consumers are considering the functions that vegan substitutes can serve in their meals, with the aim of reducing human impact on the environment. Thinking about the level of greenhouse emissions that livestock farming produces, it becomes evident that ‘sustainable’ meat is not enough and meat replacements are more crucial than ever. Unexpectedly, several companies such as Beyond Meat are on a mission to positively impact climate change and address global resource constraints by creating plant-based burgers, beef, sausages, crumbles and more. Kroger, Nestlé, Conagra Brands and Tyson Foods are just some of the other examples following Beyond Meat’s mission to create plant-based meat alternatives and help shape a new vegan future that is more nurturing for the planet. Nevertheless, what is good for people’s nourishment and for the climate cannot be determined by the food industry, a lifestyle trend or a vegan seal, but it can surely make an impact. Changing the way humanity chooses its nourishment and makes use of the land surface is a daunting challenge, yet it is also of the essence and social innovation could hold the key to safeguarding and repairing the damage already done to the planet. 


Vegan Medication?

Going vegan may come with several daily challenges, such as going to a restaurant where the only vegan option is a salad, dealing with the guilt of accidentally consuming dairy or meat products, or even defending your choice to go vegan to others on a daily basis whilst also checking every ingredient in the products you buy. Yet vegans still face one challenge of paramount importance. How can you tell if your medication is vegan-friendly? The truth is that most medications prescribed in primary care contain animal-derived products, which means that even if you opt for a vegan lifestyle, any health issues you may face can leave you without options, forcing you to take the medication you are prescribed. In recent years, vegans have pushed medical companies to disclose the animal content in their medications in order to gain a complete understanding and make informed personal choices. When the time comes, the disclosure of animal content in medication will help vegans to make ethical choices. Also, medical companies, in disclosing information about the manufacture of medication, may also face new barriers as consumers fight back against animal testing and demand that the ingredients currently used in drugs are replaced with plant-derived ones that may be safer to use (e.g. plant-based gelatine capsules [5]) compared to animal-based varieties. Do vegans have the power to create a societal impact in the medical industry? Future medical developments will tell!


Vegan Schools

Waking up early in the morning to get to your 7 am class can be a struggle. As the institution responsible for educating our children, school is where they are exposed to an environment that nurtures and develops their training, control and discipline. At present, all around the globe, we can find examples of schools that are developing new educational approaches in a mission to strengthen the capacity, skills, entrepreneurial and collaborative mindsets of children from all backgrounds. Such approaches can embed social innovation practices that enable students to develop an understanding of how the world is shaped and tackle the real challenges of the 21st century. The switch to new educational approaches has found a new type of school, the vegan school! The philosophy behind vegan schools is that students develop and enhance their intellectual, artistic and practical skills in a holistic way, with a focus on the environment and nature. These schools are dedicated to sustainability, health and ethics and serve their students plant-based meals for several reasons, with the primary ones being the climate debate, health aspects and ethical reasons. Notable examples of vegan schools are the Waldorf school Hagaskolan in Sweden [6], the MUSE school in California [7] and the German International Academy in Chennai [8], which shows that veganism in schools might be the next big thing.


Vegan Festivals

Whenever a festival takes place, it means something special is happening. Festivals act as a special hook to attract visitors interested in a particular type of event, from a music festival featuring a favourite singer or band to a food festival with top culinary chefs, or a book festival with endless book collections that enrich the cultural life of a city. Indeed, there are lots of different types of festivals and now seems to be the time for the rise of the vegan festival! Vegan festivals attract visitors of all ages, ethnicities and dietary preferences who are curious to sample vegan foods and make an impact through their lifestyle choices. These festivals are not only about good music and food but also try to raise awareness of various social and environmental matters. For instance, Black VegFest 2020 notes that ‘it’s purposeful, but not a different kind of veganism. It’s an extension of community activism for black and poor and oppressed peoples everywhere’ [9]. Vevolution is attracting all those individuals who are interested in becoming the next ‘plant powered positive changemakers ’[10] who want to be part of constructing a better future. Interested in more vegan events? No worries, we’ve got you up-to-date!


Learn more at Social Innovation Academy

Why Social Innovation Academy? Social innovation is increasingly being perceived as the answer to the rising number of European societal challenges. While the European authorities, leading academics, policy experts, business people and activists agree that social innovation is the key to a better future, it is extremely difficult for professionals to obtain high-quality training on what social innovation offers and, more importantly, how it can be done in practice.

Social Innovation Academy aims to change this situation in Europe and beyond. If you’re interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our Friends, apply to become a member of our Global Advisory Board or follow us on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here!



The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Would you like to collaborate? Get in touch!

Subscribe to Social Innovation Academy updates

We did it again! Social Innovation Academy will go truly global by 2021

We Did It Again Whether you prefer Metallica's or Britney Spear's take on this phrase, feel free to start humming: after the first two years of the project, almost 5,000 users from 187 countries, 80+ project partners and organisational supporters, 50 co-creators, and...

Social Innovation Academy event in Warsaw arouses great interest

Social Innovation Academy event in Poland showed the great potential of social innovation in Poland. The beta version of the Academy is officially launched!

Social Innovation Academy meets in the dark in Warsaw to experience and discuss social innovation in Poland

On 18 June 2019, Harvard Business Review Poland held a business breakfast in Warsaw which focused on the topic of ‘How to successfully develop social innovation projects?’. The event attracted a wide range of business representatives, along with government and public...

8 leading social innovation events in January 2020

Are you actually familiar with where to find exciting social innovation events and conferences in January 2020? No need to worry! We’ve done the research!

Social Innovation Academy event selling out days in advance in Luxembourg

Social Innovation Academy event in Luxembourg was a hit. Besides an engaging panel, participants got to experience the beta version of the Academy.

8 inspiring social innovation events in February 2020

At Social Innovation Academy we expose 8 must social innovation events in February 2020! Don’t miss your chance to connect with like-minded individuals!

An inspiring social innovation dialogue

Social Innovation Academy launched an inspiring event in Badajoz. EOLAS and Fundación Maimona officially launched the beta version of the Academy is Spain!

Are you a Social Entrepreneur? Then the Social Innovation Tournament is for you!

The Social Innovation Tournament recognises and supports the best European social entrepreneurs. It is organised in a different country every year to reward and sponsor European entrepreneurs whose primary purpose is to generate a social, ethical or environmental...
Share This