In 2021, the international motto for Earth Day is "Restore our Earth". The way we eat is closely intertwined with this. That is why Earth Day in Germany has focused on the topic of sustainable nutrition: “Every bite counts. Protect what you eat - protect our Earth. Live consciously and sustainably.”
An ideal opportunity to ask vegan and Greenpeace supporter Frank Schwarz, Portfolio Manager in the Global Equities / Absolute Return Multi Asset Team, about his views on vegan foods and the climate-friendly use of resources.
Frank, the MainFirst Global Equities Fund has vegan alternatives in its portfolio. What makes these stocks interesting for you? Is there potential in this sector?
Frank Schwarz: We invested in Beyond Meat right after the IPO and our investment in WhiteWave was also very successful. The latter produces plant-based dairy alternatives, with well-known brands such as Alpro. Among the younger generation, interest in alternative nutrition is growing strongly. Harvard and Stanford universities, for example, have completely switched to vegan restaurants on campus. Another example is the "Veganuary" movement. Veganuary - a play on the words January and vegan - is a non-profit organisation and campaign that encourages people worldwide to adopt a vegan diet in January and beyond. During the 2021 campaign, more than 580,000 people signed up for Veganuary to try an all-plant-based diet. But the biggest potential for the industry based around the production and preparation of vegan food is among flexitarians, people who occasionally eat high-quality, organically produced meat but increasingly turn to vegan products.
What is the significance of “every bite counts - protect what you eat” for you personally?
Frank Schwarz: Apart from the, in my opinion, great taste of Beyond Meat products, the CO2 consumption is 90 percent lower compared to meat, 99 percent less water is used and the land use is 93 percent less in comparison. In addition, preventing animal suffering is also a positive argument for a conscious, vegan diet that should not be underestimated, and I feel better about this point as well.
Are there any aspects of Earth Day that inspire you personally?
Tackling the climate crisis is the biggest challenge facing our generation. That is why I have supported the environmental organisation Greenpeace since the first climate summit in Rio in 1992. As a Fund Manager, the E for "Environment" is of paramount importance to me in the ESG criteria. We invested in many CO2-reducing, new technologies very early on and have not invested in polluters like coal-fired power plants since 2006.
Thank you for your insights!