by Diana Potter
The influence of the plant-based/environmental advocacy movement on our lives just keeps growing, as evidenced by the September 10 launch of a new vegan Exchange Traded Fund, or ETF, on the New York Stock Exchange: the US Vegan Climate ETF (ticker symbol VEGN). Designed for environmentalists and animal rights advocates, the US Vegan Climate ETF excludes all stocks that rely on animal exploitation. Among the best-known of its holdings are Beyond Meat, which is up almost 500% from its original IPO price, and Tesla, with its leather-free car interiors.
The new ETF is the latest fund to be run by the Beyond Investing US Vegan Climate Index, which comprises 275 companies — and goes well beyond the animal cruelty issue in all its investing decisions.
According to its prospectus, Beyond Investing’s operating philosophy “excludes companies engaged in animal exploitation, defense, human rights abuses, fossil fuel extraction and energy production, and other environmentally damaging activities.” In fund-manager-speak, that means it takes into account environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in deciding where to invest. It also means the fund holds few pharmaceutical, material-manufacturing, and consumer-sector stocks despite these industries’ popularity with investors. Their vegan strategy appears to be a success: Beyond Investing’s index is up 23% so far this year.
Another way these funds help grow the plant-based/environmental advocacy movement:
- Investor-seeking companies that haven’t made the move to more environmentally and animal-friendly policies will need to consider changing to meet the requirements for inclusion in these types of funds.
As plants and profits are increasingly viewed together in a positive light, the movement enters a new and mainstream dimension, potentially signaling its growth to dominance in what we eat, wear, drive — overall, in how and how healthfully we live.