All the News: Your Weekly Debrief 17/21

Business, Food, Fashion & Design: Your Weekly Debrief for Week 17, 2021, a curated newsletter with a handpicked selection of news from the plant-based world.

Antagonist 'Your Weekly Debrief' – a curated newsletter bringing you the very best in plant-based news.
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April 30, 2021

Words – Eric Mirbach
Editorial Desk – Laura Sinnhuber

Good Morning,

and great to have you join us for the Weekly Debrief for week 17 of 2021. As always, we got the latest from the world of plant-based business, food, fashion, travel, and lifestyle, curated and contextualized for you.

You can subscribe, too.

But it gets better: You can subscribe to the Weekly Debrief, now, too. Get them delivered straight to their inbox every Saturday morning as a nicely prepared weekend read.

Today, we cover a look back on Fashion Revolution Week and sum up what’s been happening in ethical fashion since Rana Plaza (spoiler: too little) — and we look forwards, too; into the future of plant-based protein in particular.


Beyond & Oatly named “Most Influential Companies” by Time Magazine

Time magazine‘s first-ever “100 Most Influential Companies” list features vegan companies Beyond Meat and Oatly — next to apps like Bumble and Headspace, tech giant Apple and automotive innovator Tesla.

In it, Beyond Meat is praised for “having popularized plant-based-protein” while Oatly made the list due to “having expanded an oat-milk empire”.

The news come at a good time for Beyond Meat, as it just announced a new and updated version of their plant-based burger patties, featuring “impressive advancements in taste and nutrition”. The Beyond Burger 3.0 is said to be “the meatiest, juciest burger yet” while containing 35% less fat, 35% less saturated fat, fewer calories and B vitamins and minerals matching the micro-nutrient content of its animal-based counterpart. Rolling out in May in the US, then in over 80 countries worldwide.

Meanwhile, Forbes Magazine‘s Brian Kateman asked in a recent article if near-monopolies in plant-based meat are a bad thing. Synopsis: Probably not. It’s a great read — we highly recommend!

More Alt-Protein News

As a first reply to Kateman’s Forbes piece, however, let us just say that it doesn’t seem likely that the Beyonds, Impossibles and Oatlys of the world will be left alone for too long.

Kellogg’s announced new vegan chicken tenders, Burger King UK has teamed upwith alternative-protein company Vegetarian Butcher for a rollout of 100% vegan Royale & Whopper versions as a “Meatfree Monday” special (very British indeed, tip of the hat, Sir Paul McCartney), and another American conglomerate, ADM, recently opened a plant-based innovation lab in Singapore to develop alternative proteins “tailored” for the fast-growing Asian market.

And to nicely wrap up this section, we’d like to recommend another article: A New York Times opinion piece titles “Let’s Launch a Moonshot for Meatless Meat” by Columnist Ezra Klein.

Fashion Revolution Week is Over — Some of the Takeaways

On April 24, 2013, the collapse of eight-story apparel manufacturing complex Rana Plaza in Bangladesh cost the lives of over a thousand garment workers, with several thousand more injured. Every year, for Fashion Revolution Week, we collectively remember the disaster and look at the fashion industry to demand change.

Sadly, according to this article by author Amanda Randone for Refinery29, 8 years after Rana Plaza, things are worse for Asian factory workers, especially in the wake of the Corona virus outbreak.

Together with our friends of Collective Fashion Justice and animal-rights organisation Surge, we opted to concentrate on another, often overlooked side of the fashion industry: Animal-derived “materials”  and the suffering and destruction they cause. You can read our (extensive!) wrap-up on the Antagonist website now.

What we don’t want to do, however, is just share these very sobering facts about the fashion industry without equipping you with options. That’s why we made a list of our favorite vegan fashion brands and we hope it will serve you well.

New Sustainability Efforts from Big Players in Fashion

According to this intriguing read on WWD, huge platforms like Zalando, Asos and Amazon — now that they’re finally getting to terms with implementing actual sustainability initiatives — might turn out to be more of an effective tool than government regulation. Here’s a sentence we didn’t think we’d ever type out.

Additionally, brands like Benetton and Levi’s are pushing for more sustainability in their businesses, the ladder with a big campaign featuring (among others) Jaden Smith around their implementation of new sustainable production practices. We just like the guy, so we jump at the chance to mention him here and use his photograph for the header of this newsletter, too. What can we say, we’re biased.

China’s Emerging Sustainable Consumer & a Critical Look at Plant-Based Leather Hybrids

This piece by Vogue looks at China’s upcycling trend and the emerging sustainable consumer — a promising outlook, as the role China will have to play in making the world more sustainable is not to be underestimated.

A rather uncomfortable read — from a vegan fashion advocate’s perspective at least — addressing some of the marketing-claims that have been made around hybrid leather alternatives is this article on The Circular Laboratory. While quoting intriguing science, the article sadly also misses the point that i.e. leather shoes generally use a mix of “natural” materials and plastic, too. We’d love to see this discussed in more depth. Any of the usual suspects interested?

Last but not Least

For rather personal reasons — with our Editor at Large a longtime NYC-resident and half the editorial staff here in Berlin feeling deeply connected to the East-coast metropolis — this kind of got to us this week.

Granted, the title of the New York Times story called “Coney Island’s Original Goes Vegan” is rather blowing things out of proportion: The hot-dog vendor Nathan’s Famous is just adding a vegan option to it’s menu, it’s not actually “going vegan”.

Be that as it may: The article immediately had us dream of a sweaty summer subway trip to Coney for a hot dog or five, a stroll down the boulevard and a ride on a dangerously-old-timey-looking rollercoaster. Some day it’ll happen, in a post-Covid future, that still feels very far away in this moment, here in Berlin, Germany (sigh).

As always, thanks for reading and have a great weekend. Read you next week!

Yours truly,
Eric Mirbach
(Editor in Chief)

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Only the best reads, most interesting figures, great new releases and industry news from the world of vegan & plant-based innovation.

Curated, selected and contextualized for you by the Antagonist editorial team.

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