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Investing in vegan stocks

It’s a socially responsible investment in a growing niche, but can it stand the test of time?

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Vegan and plant-based companies may be of special interest to the investor looking to add some socially conscious investments to their portfolio. But many of these companies are young, untested and facing an uncertain future.

What are vegan stocks?

Vegan stocks are stocks from companies that market to vegans. Most of these companies are food manufacturers that specialize in vegan-friendly and plant-based products. The vegan diet excludes meat, dairy products, eggs and all other ingredients derived from animals. Dietary staples include fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Publicly traded companies that exclude animal products from their offerings may be considered vegan stocks.

Why invest in vegan stocks?

It’s a growing industry that’s adding companies that qualify as socially responsible investments, and more and more people are becoming interested in veganism. Between 2014 and 2017, vegans in the US grew from 1% to 6% according to Forbes. The global plant-based meat market — a hearty component of many vegan diets — was worth $12.1 billion in 2019 and is forecasted to reach $74.2 billion by 2027, according to a report from Meticulous Research. And with the Plant Based Food Association reporting that 29% of Americans now identify as flexitarians — shoppers aiming to cut back on animal-based food products — the plant-based food market is well-positioned to grow at a healthy rate.

In addition to a positive growth forecast, vegan stocks qualify as a socially responsible investment. Socially responsible investments support companies that aim to have a positive social or environmental impact. This type of investing has become more popular in recent years and gives investors the opportunity to support companies and causes they truly care about. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or just want to support companies that refrain from selling animal products, vegan stocks are one way to introduce socially responsible investments into your portfolio.

What unique risks do vegan companies face?

The risks facing vegan stocks are the same risks that face many new, rapidly evolving industries: instability.

This portion of the global food market is still small, to say the least. And while it’s definitely growing, it hasn’t proven itself long term. Many companies that specialize in vegan and plant-based products are startups. And startups are an inherently risky investment. There’s no guarantee these newer companies will stand the test of time, especially considering how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the way we dine.

Beyond Meat — one of the biggest players in the plant-based meat space — sells half its products to restaurants. And a number of its competitors are in the same boat. In light of the pandemic, restaurants simply aren’t seeing the same numbers of patrons, even considering the shift toward takeout, pickup and delivery options. There’s no telling how the pandemic will affect the restaurant industry long-term. And with such a large cut of plant-based company sales going to restaurants, these companies will undoubtedly be affected.

Veganism has begun to take root in American dietary trends, but these companies may be too new for the experienced investor to gamble on.

Vegan stocks

If you’re ready to add some socially conscious stocks to your portfolio, you have a few options. While most of these stocks are available on US exchanges, which makes them easy to purchase from common brokers like Robinhood and Chase You Invest, Else Nutrition and Burcon NutraScience are both listed on Canadian exchanges. To purchase international stocks, you’ll need to open an international share trading account. Select a company to learn more about what they do and how their stock performs, including market capitalization, the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, price/earnings-to-growth (PEG) ratio and dividend yield. While this list includes a selection of the most well-known and popular stocks, it doesn't include every stock available.

What ETFs track vegan companies?

Investors looking for a vegan-focused ETF may be pleasantly surprised to discover the U.S. Vegan Climate ETF (VEGN): the first publicly traded fund to focus on vegan investments.

The U.S. Vegan Climate ETF holds over $18 million in assets and has an expense ratio of 0.6%. It’s a socially responsible fund that primarily filters out companies involved in animal products, testing, farming and animals used for sports or entertainment purposes. But the fund also exempts companies that:

  • Extract, refine or produce fossil fuels
  • Consume fossil fuels for energy
  • Have a significant carbon footprint
  • Have a history of environmental habitat destruction
  • Produce tobacco
  • Produce armaments and products designed for military or defense use
  • Have a history of human rights abuses

As of March 2020, the U.S. Vegan Climate ETF held 268 companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Facebook.

Compare trading platforms

Before you can invest, you’ll need a brokerage account. Explore your platform options below.

Name Product Available asset types Stock trade fee Option trade fee Annual fee
Vanguard
Stocks,Mutual funds,ETFs,Forex
$0
$1
$20 per year
Get a personal advisor when you open an account with at least $50,000.
Robinhood
Stocks,Options,ETFs,Cryptocurrency
$0
$0
0%
Make unlimited commission-free trades in stocks, funds, and options with Robinhood Financial.
Interactive Brokers
Stocks,Bonds,Options,Mutual funds,Index funds,ETFs,Forex,Futures,Cash
$0
$0 + $0.65/contract, $1 minimum
0%
IBKR Lite offers $0 commissions, and IBKR Pro offers advanced tools for professional traders.
TD Ameritrade
Stocks,Bonds,Options,Mutual funds,ETFs,Forex,Futures
$0
or $25 If it is broker-assisted
$0 + $0.65/contract,
or $25 Broker-assisted
TD Ameritrade features $0 commission for online stock, but watch out for high short-term ETF and broker-assisted trading fees.
Tastyworks
Stocks,Options,ETFs,Futures
$0
Stocks & ETFs: $1/contract to open, $0 to close, $10 max/leg
Futures: $2.50/contract to open, $0 to close
0%
Trade stocks, options, ETFs and futures on mobile or desktop with this advanced platform.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: The value of any investment can go up or down depending on news, trends and market conditions. We are not investment advisers, so do your own due diligence to understand the risks before you invest.

Bottom line

For those ready to add some plant-based investments to their portfolio, vegan stocks represent an investment opportunity on the rise and gaining momentum. But most companies in this industry have plenty more ground to cover before they can be considered a stable investment.

Review your platform options across multiple providers to find the brokerage account that meets your needs.

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