Becoming a vegan might be a difficult decision but staying one can be made easier if there is a ready supply of plant-based vegan products in the market. This idea was well understood by Sagar Mehta, and it motivated him to establish one of India’s most comprehensive e-commerce platforms for vegan and conscious businesses – Vegan Dukan.
Earlier known as Vgungho, the online platform offers a complete range of vegan products under categories such as Dairy, Mock Meat, Protein Supplements, Personal Care, Groceries, amongst several others. During a conversation with The Vegan Indians, Sagar, Founder & Partner, Vegan Dukan, said, “I have been a vegan for seven years now and I always wanted to do something to contribute to the growth of veganism in India. Even when I was employed with other companies, the idea of doing something to promote this cause was always there at the back of my mind.”
Resolve Turns Into Action
Amidst all this, Sagar started training for Honorary Animal Welfare Officer (HAWO) and came in touch with some of the leading animal rights activists. “My experiences during the training came as a real eye-opener. Although I was aware of the cruelty happening in animal agriculture, the training made me realise that there is a parallel world that is completely hidden from consumers and no one knows about it. It was the darkest period of my life and I was really disturbed.”
The training made Sagar’s determination even more solid and he decided to start a business through which he could make use of his skills to promote the cause of animal welfare. “I had been in the e-commerce field for past several years and had even worked in similar start-ups. Since I had the complete understanding required for such a venture, I decided to do something in the same field and the idea behind Vegan Dukan was seeded.”
“I realised that the scale in vegan products is very limited and there would certainly be people like me who are looking for such products. I did my research on different e-commerce companies in US and UK. At that time, India too had a few brands so I decided to create a marketplace with a plug and play model that makes easy for brands to sell their products; it avoids the complication of an inventory-led model. Through Vegan Dukan, sellers can sell whatever they produce irrespective of the quantities. It enables anyone from India to set up their shop and start selling products,” explained Sagar.
Growth in Vegan
Within a short span of time, Vegan Dukan has grown substantially in terms of sellers, products, team size, and even efficiency. Bengaluru-based Vegan Dukan delivers all across India, however, delivery of frozen food products and temperature-sensitive products is limited only to Bengaluru. The company is open to establishing a delivery centre in North India to cater to more customers.
Vegan Dukan adheres to strict quality control and also undertakes in-house testing of certain products. The company pays special attention to ingredients and makes sure all the products on its platform have FSSAI certification. On company’s immediate plans, Sagar said, “Right now we just have one plan, and that is, to expand ourselves and reach more people. We want to increase the number of options that we can give to people because if there are options available, one finds it easier to turn vegan or stay vegan.”
Talking about the challenges Vegan Dukan faces, Sagar said, “Most of our challenges are related to the nature of the business we are in. 50-60% of our customer base comes from metros, while the rest is from smaller cities and towns. Demand is increasing rapidly and sometimes we feel we are not able to tap into the complete potential of the market. People are aspiring to try vegan and plant-based products and we are still not able to reach them. That is our biggest challenge.”
What Does the Future Hold?
Voicing his opinion on future prospects of veganism in India, Sagar told us, “India has upped its research on cell-based meat and high quality plant based meats. Besides this, more dairy alternatives are going to come in. People in India have understood that this is going to be the next big thing in the food industry. We can already see innovations happening in India and the next couple of years could bring in something even more exciting.”
“Worldwide, the vegan and plant-based industry is growing by 20-30%, and in India, the growth will be much larger due to the population. Right now, the industry is at a very nascent stage and there is infinite growth potential in this segment. A lot will depend on the number of new companies entering this market, established players diversifying their businesses, and investors backing these companies.”
A Responsible Dukan
Vegan Dukan provides support to organisations such as FIAPO, PETA, and Humane Society International. Being an animal lover, Sagar, in his personal capacity, is attached with vegan activism groups such as Bengaluru Brigade of Animal Liberation and also volunteers for the tasks that team takes up.
Giving his opinion on veganism, Sagar said, “It doesn’t matter whether people consider veganism a fad or a diet; the reality of veganism is animal cruelty, and that cannot be detached from veganism. “People may or may not want to talk about it but the truth cannot be concealed. A fad can be replaced but sensitivity towards animal is something that cannot. People do connect with this cause a lot. Whether a person is vegan or not, they would always know that there is something wrong happening.”