We caught up with Jonathan Petrides, founder of allplants and # 2 in the TechRound 100 to talk all things, from plant based diets to becoming the most sustainable food company in the world….
How did you come up with the idea for allplants?
In 2016, I became obsessed with the idea that, if everyone could just taste how excitingly delicious plant-based food is, we could unlock a tidal wave of demand shifting from meat to plants.
This all came from my own personal journey, waking up to the negative impact that animal agriculture has on our planet, and feeling compelled to at least give eating more plants and then a plant-based diet a go. I quickly learned that, if you love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, eating a fresh and colourful plant-based diet can be a fun adventure of culinary invention. But if you don’t have time, or simply don’t enjoy cooking, making even changes to your familiar habits are real tough whether at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Nobody was making it exciting or easy to eat more plants.
Food choices are very personal, and it’s very clear that no amount of persuasive logic or heart-string pulling will get the vast majority of us to change how we eat – just go to an environmental conference and you’ll see everyone eating meat over lunch. The only way to break through this barrier is with irresistible flavour.
So I started cooking for friends, family and anybody who’d have a taste. The weekly supper clubs were a lot of fun (and hard work!) and helped us perfect our earliest recipes, but it also helped us realise that an easier way to know you’ll eat delicious, healthier food every day at home was really enticing – and so, we started trying to work out how we could do that for households across the UK from our innovative little kitchen.
We have just served our millionth meal 3 years after launching, and in early 2020 launched Europe’s largest dedicated plant-based kitchen in my hometown London – a huge leap from what started as a supper club at my kitchen table.
Why do you think plant-based food is becoming such a trend?
More and more people are trying to reduce their meat intake and eat a more plant-based diet for their personal health, for the survival of our planet and an awakening awareness of the ethics and dangers of factory farming.
Flipping our planet to an entirely plant-based food and agriculture system must and will happen. It’s a vital step in our generations’ battle with the climate crisis, as could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80%, but also will free up 30% of our planet’s land for rewilding with forests to bolster biodiversity, save oceans of water, reduce the risk of animal infectious diseases, and overall enable a healthier humanity to lead the world like never before.
It’s a small but powerful change we can all vote for 3 times a day, every day, a small change that will unlock a brighter future for our planet and all living things.
Post Covid-19, there will be even a larger increase of people wanting to eat healthier for themselves and the planet. The pandemic shows we must transform the global food system. Our global, profit-driven, meat-centered food system is making us and our planet sick. We need a radical rethink.
How has demand for meal boxes increased during the pandemic?
The lockdown measures in the UK have obviously had a major impact on all industries and food is central to that – with almost every person globally switched to living and eating under their home roof for months. Everything we do at allplants is focused on helping you enjoy healthier hand-cooked food at home every day of the week, so we’ve seen a major increase in customers (e.g. a 400% year-on-year step-up in March alone from new and our existing subscribers).
To put that into perspective, in February we celebrated cooking and serving 1 million dishes – three years after launching. At the rate we’re now selling we could clear our next million by the end of summer.
We’re lucky we have a superb team focussed on driving our mission forward, working with our allplants customers to innovate from our kitchen to theirs at pace, and a reliability and scalability in our new kitchen that’s helped us to keep launching even more fantastic recipes monthly. I’m still in awe of the ingenuity, determination and commitment our team showed through COVID, particularly in the early days, where our chef team were proud to keep us cooking for our customers stuck at home nationwide.
What can we hope to see from allplants in the future?
In addition to our delicious plant-based meals, each month we’re launching new categories and formats to serve up plant-based solutions for every food moment. This included our recent Treats, our hugely popular and indulgent desserts, as well as healthy Breakfasts Chia/Bircher Pots. In July we are launching our new pizza range, organic smoothies alongside our latest summer recipes.
As a B-Corp we’re very excited to find we’re now serving more and more family households, and most of our new customers aren’t vegan or veggie at all, they just want delicious healthy food they can count on. Inspiring more tastebuds into the delectable world of plants is top of the list for us. Meanwhile we’ll keep working on becoming the most sustainable food company in the world.