With the recent introduction of the Burger King Veggie Whopper, it makes sense to also invest like a vegan.

As a vegetarian, you make the ethical decision to stand behind your values with each bite you take. However, are you putting your money where your mouth is? You understandably want to generate a great return on your investment portfolio, but your investment dollars are directly supporting the companies that you hold stock in. A closer look reveals why transitioning to vegetarian investing is a smart, conscientious goal to pursue and how to do it.

Being Vegan Makes Sense

Many people migrate from a meat-based diet to a vegan or vegetarian diet for the health benefits. Specifically, a plant-based diet has been shown to reduce your risk of developing health issues such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Various types of cancer, including prostate, breast and colon cancers
  • Macular degeneration
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis

In addition to decreasing your risk of suffering from these and other conditions, your physical health may improve in visible ways by giving up omnivorous preferences. For example, you may enjoy healthier skin and hair, a leaner frame, stronger nails, and other benefits by eating a plant-based diet.

Clearly, a vegan or vegetarian diet makes sense for your well-being. However, this is not the only reason why you may wholeheartedly avoid eating meat and using related products.

Animal Cruelty

In order to meet the growing demand for meat and meat-based products, producers raise cattle, pigs, chickens and other animals in warehouse environments. Their goal is to fatten animals as much as possible in minimal time to line their pockets. These animals are often crammed so tightly together that they cannot move. In some cases, weaker animals are trampled to death, and most of these animals stand in their own feces.

These animals may never see the light of day and are not nurtured by their mother, which as we all know, is a pretty basic primal need. Many are fed growth hormones and are forced to eat unhealthy chemicals that can lead to birth defects. The inhumane nature with which these animals are raised is heartbreaking, and it may detract from the limited health benefits that are associated with meat products. By choosing to follow a vegetarian diet, you actively choose not to contribute to the inhumane activities of these unethical corporations.

Vegans take this a step further by avoiding all animal-based products. This includes not purchasing materials derived from animals, such as wool, leather and other materials. However, if you are not also purchasing vegetarian or vegan stocks, you may not be following through on your strong convictions.

Carbon Emissions

Eating meat and using meat-based products are also undeniably damaging to the environment. Consider these documented facts:

  • Carbon emissions from livestock account for up to 18 percent of global emissions. Transportation only accounts for approximately 14 percent.
  • The carbon emissions created by the production of 1 kilogram of beef is generally greater than leaving all of your house lights on and driving your car for three hours at the same time. The average person eats more than 90 kilograms of meat annually.
  • A leading contributor of deforestation in the Amazon is the meat industry.
  • Approximately 2,500 gallons of water are consumed for each pound of beef produced.

These are only some of the startling facts about the impact of the meat industry on the environment. Each day you continue to follow a plant-based diet, you are actively promoting a healthier environment. However, are you doing all that you can to live by your ethical convictions?

Being Vegan Makes Even More Sense

Before making a significant move to transition your financial portfolio to a vegan investing strategy, understand that there are more factors at play than you may realize. Numerous myths circulate about veganism and vegetarianism that may be perpetuated by the meat industry or meat lovers. In addition, the government may unabashedly influence consumer decisions to purchase meat products.

Debunking Vegan Myths: Meat Industry

If you fall for some of the myths and misconceptions about veganism or vegetarianism, you may be less inclined to back up your convictions with conscientious financial investments. These are a few of the leading myths and their fact-based truths:

Myth: You cannot maintain strength or amass new muscle on a plant-based diet.

Fact: On a meat-based diet, meat is usually the primary source of protein. As a basic building block of muscle, it is easy to assume that you cannot get enough protein to maintain or build healthy muscle mass without meat. However, many plant-based foods are high in protein. These include spirulina, hemp seed, spinach, lentils, nuts, and beans. Your body can obtain all required nutrients from a healthy, varied and plant-based diet.

Myth: A plant-based diet is not healthy for children.

Fact: The basis for this myth lies in the fact that children need protein for healthy growth. The assumption that underlies this myth is that a plant-based diet cannot provide adequate protein. When a child’s diet is rich in the protein-rich plant foods listed above and a variety of other fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts, children can obtain all of the protein and other nutrients needed to thrive.

Myth: Following a plant-based diet is expensive.

Fact: Buying whole fruits and vegetables is much more affordable than buying dairy and meat products. Fruits and vegetables can get more expensive when you purchase containers of already chopped, sliced or diced fruits and veggies. When you stick to natural foods, you may dramatically reduce your grocery bill by going vegan or vegetarian. Buying locally-grown produce in season is often most cost-effective.

Myth: A diet without meat is bland and boring.

Fact: This myth is generated by the assumption that the only thing vegans and vegetarians eat is salad along with raw fruits and vegetables. There are hundreds of recipes for salads and numerous salad dressings to add variety. More than that, there are vegan variations for most dishes. In many cases, a simple substitution will transform a recipe into a healthy, plant-based meal, snack or dessert.

Debunking Vegan Myths: Government Subsidy

If you think that all companies and food producers are operating on an even playing field, a closer look at government subsidies is in order. Government subsidies impact the cost of foods we eat as well as their availability and even their appeal to consumers. With the USDA’s famous food pyramid setting the bar for dietary standards, making the assumption that the government has our nutritional interests in mind is easy to do. However, analyzing government subsidies reveals the truth.

Myth: The U.S. government subsidizes all niches of the food industry equally.

Fact: The U.S. government offers only $17 million in subsidies for fruits and vegetables, and it provides a whopping $38 billion to subsidize the meat and dairy industries.

Myth: Small farmers receive their fair share of government subsidies.

Fact: Over the last 15 years, more than two-thirds of independent farmers did not receive any subsidies from the government. The majority of government subsidies land in the hands of large food corporations.

Myth: The U.S. government actively promotes a healthy, balanced diet without bias.

Fact: In recent years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture spends more than $550 million on food-based marketing campaigns annually. Some of the more notable and effective slogans used include, “Milk. It does a body good,” and “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.” Are these campaigns effective? For each dollar spent in this area, sales rose by $8. This equates to an additional $4.6 billion in additional annual revenue for eggs, dairy and meat products.

Is Vegan the Trend for 2019?

A hallmark of smart investing is to place your money in industries and niches that are growing. With the meat-based keto diet remaining popular, it may seem as though the trend is away from vegetarianism and veganism. However, the keto diet incorporates animal meats and fats with whole vegetables as well. The keto diet is met with mixed reviews, but on a basic level, it raises awareness of the need to be mindful of the foods taken into the body.

Aside from the keto diet, a general trend toward improving knowledge about our body’s nutritional needs continues. Through education, more people continue to learn that meat is not needed for optimal health and contribute to many common and serious diseases. While some people have turned away from meat and meat products entirely, others are transitioning slowly in this direction. For example, Meatless Monday is a growing trend.

Between 2014 and 2017, veganism grew by 500 percent in the United States alone. This trend is present in other countries as well. For example, Portugal and Germany are a few other developed countries that have shown an uptick in veganism and vegetarianism.

Famous Vegans

Celebrities are undeniably major cultural influencers, and their sphere of influence extends to fashion, fitness, politics and even diet. Many celebrity endorsements of food products and restaurants are proof of this. These are a few of the many celebrities who are or have been vegan or vegetarian:

  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Beyoncé
  • Jay-Z
  • Ellen Page
  • Alicia Silverstone
  • James Cromwell
  • Mike Tyson
  • Ariana Grande
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Hank Aaron
  • Venus Williams
  • Billie Jean King
  • Kyrie Irving

New Vegan Studies

As facts and myths surrounding veganism continue to butt heads and as an increasing number of people are transitioning to a plant-based diet, new research is being conducted. These are a few of the more recent findings related to veganism and vegetarianism:

  • While a plant-based diet has clearly been linked to a reduction in numerous serious health issues, a recent study takes this a step further. It has shown that a plant-based diet can decrease all-cause mortality in American adults.
  • A plant-based diet may reduce blood pressure in adults with proteinuria, and this may be a non-pharmacological alternative treatment.
  • Another study has further proven that a diet leaning heavily focused on plant-based foods can decrease the risk of diabetes, prediabetes and insulin resistance.
  • A study has also indicated that improved cardiometabolic function is directly linked to a vegan diet.

Investing Wisely: Vegan Portfolio

Vegans and vegetarians are passionate about maintaining a meat-free lifestyle, and justifiably so. Your decision to maintain high ethical standards can and should carry over to your financial investments.

Why would you support a company through a stock purchase that thrives off of animal cruelty or contributes to environmental decline? Pulling your money out of these companies and supporting companies that maintain strict cruelty-free standards is essential.

Standards for Vegan Portfolio

Before leaping headfirst into vegan investing, establish standards to abide by. Some cruelty-free standards include:

  • Avoiding any company that uses animal testing, including pharmaceutical, cosmetic and biotech companies
  • Eliminating restaurants that serve meat products
  • Not investing in food manufacturers that produce meat or that use meat products in their foods
  • Avoiding companies that produce or sell leather, wool or silk products

While building a portfolio based on vegan and vegetarian stocks with these rules in mind may seem too restrictive at first glance, rest assured that you can build a balanced, profitable portfolio while maintaining your convictions.

How to Make Your Vegan Portfolio Thrive

As important as it is to be a conscientious investor, you also have significant financial goals. You can follow several approaches to make your vegan investment portfolio thrive. For example, rather than investing in vegetation stocks of companies selling plant-based foods and related products, you can invest in mutual funds and index funds that are designed for the conscientious investor. With the growing movement to invest ethically, the number of funds available is steadily increasing.

Another idea is to enrich your portfolio of vegan stocks with stocks from unaffiliated industries. For example, a few components of a well-rounded vegan portfolio may include REIT stocks, plant-based food company stocks, CDs and utility bonds. The need to diversify for risk mitigation remains regardless of where your ethical boundaries lie.

Investing Ethically Does Not Mean Compromising

If you feel caught between achieving your financial goals and maintaining your ethical standards through vegetarian investing, kick that sentiment to the curb. You can successfully and profitably make ethical investments without compromising on your goals.

There are more than 3,790 stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange and more than 2,700 listed on the Nasdaq. In addition, more than 8,000 mutual funds and more than 1,500 exchange-traded funds are available for you to consider. While some of these may be eliminated based on your ethical investment standards, many exceptional investment opportunities will remain.

It can take time and energy to locate the right investments to add to your portfolio, but you do not need to do it alone. Investing through a wealth management company, like Mink Wealth Management, may be an easier way to retain your standards and maximize your return.

Examples of Vegan Portfolios

Are you wondering what a vegan portfolio looks like? Each investor has unique objectives, individual risk tolerance and numerous other factors that influence their ideal portfolio. While you may use these as an inspirational starting point, your portfolio should be customized for you specifically:

  • Demand Wealth: ‘Demand Cruelty-Free‘ is our top pick for a vegan/cruelty-free portfolio because it is fully diversified, and they offer many different portfolios based on your preferred level of risk. They’ve done all of the work for you! Plus, you’ll be under the advisory of Demand Wealth, so once you open an account with them, you’ll always have people to talk to about your finances, and they have over 100 years of collective wealth management experience!
  • A PETA-Based Portfolio: PETA has compiled a searchable list of more than 3,800 cruelty-free companies that you can invest in. Some of these include Tom’s of Maine, Wet ‘n Wild, Paul Mitchell Systems and others. In addition to searching for specific companies by name, you can narrow down the search based on categories like Cruelty-Free Companies by Product Type, Companies That Do Not Test on Animals and others.
  • A Cruelty-Free Investment Portfolio: Cruelty-Free Investment is a non-profit organization that strives to help ethical investors make smart financial decisions. This organization has published a complete list of publicly-traded companies that do and do not test on animals. It also has published the specific criteria used to determine a company’s placement in the list.=

Creating a solid portfolio that is diversified, ethically-based and profitable can be challenging. Rather than give in on any of your established standards and goals, turn to Mink Wealth Management. With professional guidance, you can reach your goals without compromising and without spending all of your free time researching top-producing vegetarian stocks.

For more information, you can contact a team member at (888)788-MINK or 888-788-6465 or fill out our question form today!

All content has been provided for informational or educational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be construed as investment advice of any kind, legal or tax advice and/or a legal opinion.  Always consult a financial, tax and/or legal professional regarding your specific situation.  There can be no assurance that any investment product or strategy will achieve its investment objective(s).  There is risk associated with investing, including the entire loss of the principal invested. Diversification neither assures a profit nor guarantees against loss in a declining market. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Spire Investment Partners LLC or its affiliates.
Spire Wealth Management, LLC is a Federal Registered Investment Advisory Firm.  Securities offered through an affiliate, Spire Securities, LLC