While not a vegan book, it’s the world’s foremost collection of stories of female food leaders with impact
Catching up to books published as recent as 2022, I’ve long had Jennifer Stojkovic‘s The Future of Food is Female: Reinventing the Food System to Save the Planet on my digital bookstack.
You might already know Stojkovic as the CEO of Vegan Women Summit, which has put on both live and virtual summits highlighting vegan women and women leading vegan companies in the last five years. VWS events are so well run, I included the organization in my marketing book.
Right off the bat in the Introduction, she points out that if we don’t want the food tech industry controlled by white men (as it currently is), we need more women in it. In 2020, $3 billion was invested in alternative protein, but the investments in women were cut, even though it’s been shown that female founders perform 63% better than male founders. Investors need to know this!
Is The Future of Food is Female a memoir?
No, this isn’t a memoir. While some vegan anthologies I’ve reviewed are memoir-like in their storytelling and there is a sprinkle of that element here, the focus is on the women’s careers and journeys to how they got the position they have and describe in the book.
Is The Future of Food is Female a vegan book?
I was curious to know whether all the women in the book were vegan, and while only seven of 15 of them are (plus Stojkovic), the book is still worth reading for anyone working in food or curious to learn about some of the female leaders working to positively transform the food system.
Here are some highlights I enjoyed:
- Besides investing in the regenerative agriculture industry in New Zealand, Suzy Amis Cameron started MUSE Global Schools, a vegan K to grade 12 school, and executive produced the documentary Milked (free to watch on Waterbear, btw).
- Pinky Cole‘s story is rad and I’ve heard it several times on podcasts. She operates both Atlanta-based Slutty Vegan and Bar Vegan, helping people to have access to healthier food options.
- Dr. Lisa Dyson is the mastermind behind Air Protein, which uses carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, water, and minerals to make protein. This story alone should blow you away!
- Michelle Egger‘s company, BIOMILQ, makes cell-cultured human milk meant for babies. In the US, one in four babies are breastfed in their first six months, and one third of Black babies aren’t breastfed because of the lack of paternal leave available to their fathers.
- Lisa Feria of Stray Dog Capital (which has invested in Beyond Meat, Miyoko’s Creamery, and Good Catch) set out to rebuild the entire food system after watching PETA’s Meat Your Meat and Forks Over Knives. She has a mission to elevate Latinas and other under-represented groups in business.
- Shama Sukul Lee of Sunfed says: “Meat and dairy are the fossil fuels of the food world.” Boom. I also really like Sunfed’s packaging (example below).
- Fengru Lin of Turtletree is exploring the use of cell-based human milk for seniors and athletes.
- Paralympian and serial entrepreneur Heather Mills started her first business at 13 when she didn’t live with her mother and her dad was incarcerated. She founded VBites in 1993, which used soy and pioneered the use of pea protein. The company now uses 8 different plant proteins.
- Liron Nimrodi of Zero Egg joined the army, which isn’t uncommon in Israel (in 2020, Israel ranked #1 out of 58 countries for women entrepreneurs—I wonder why?). After earning a food engineering degree, she saw how many additives were in processed animal products, then got experience working for Nestle and Soda Stream before starting Zero Egg. Also, Israel has the most vegans per capita and is the third most popular country for vegans. Amazing.
- Miyoko Schinner has the most fascinating life. In Japan in the 80s, she made her own soy milk and vegan cheese out of tofu and cashews imported from the US. She moved back to the US after threats from her business partner, and started a bakery cafe called Now and Zen (I love that), which held UnTurkey feasts on Thanksgiving. That led to distribution of UnTurkey and several other products. In 2014, she founded Miyoko’s Creamery, which expanded into a 50,000 sq ft facility within 3 years. In 2021, the company won a case against the California Department of Food & Agriculture to use the words “butter” and “dairy” on their products.
- European MP Dr. Sylwia Spurek said talking about animal rights is more controversial than women’s rights, and I have to agree.
- Priyanka Srinivas‘s tech company, The Live Green Co, launched in Chile because they had grants and visas available to foreign entrepreneurs, and a free trade agreement. It’ll be exciting to see what products they put out after they master the tech side.
- For Dr. Sandhya Sriram of Shiok Meats, her age was more of an issue than her gender.
Pick up your copy of the book to learn more about each women’s story.
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