What do you call a militant vegan? Lactose intolerant. There is a grain of truth in such barbs. Conscientious herbivores show commitment. They even drink oat milk, a substance reminiscent of wallpaper paste. If you abstain from eating animals, why not forswear milk and cheese too?

That subcultural belief could be about to go mainstream, creating opportunities and threats for food companies. The scorching debut of faux-burger maker Beyond Meat demonstrates the interest in plant-based foods. Shares in the US start-up have risen sixfold in 2019. Ordinary consumers are switching from beef patties to veggie burgers. Some would surely swap milk and cheese for palatable alternatives...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now