VFC, aka Vegan Fried Chick*n, started like all good inventions – by accident and intuition.
When the pandemic hit two and a half years ago, restaurants in York, England were closed and co-founder Matthew Glover was left without vegan fried chicken and fries (chips). Not one to sit down without his favorite food, the entrepreneur has become acquainted with restaurant owners, including chef and restaurateur Adam Cross. Cross eventually shipped a box of frozen treats to Glover, who shared the chicken, fries, coleslaw and plant-based barbecue sauce with friends and family — and it was a hit.
“I picked up the phone and [called Adam]and said, “I think we need to talk,” Glover said.
Several months later, in December 2020, the couple co-founded VFC, launching a direct-to-consumer product. Their goal is not to target restaurants, but large-scale retail and catering. With a ‘bit’ of traction now in the UK (with listings at two of the island’s two largest retailers), Cross and Glover have turned their attention to the US market. They’re currently in talks with major US food retailers, which means VFC may soon be available near you — a tasty and ethical alternative to processed chicken patties and nuggets.
The masterminds behind VFC have their plant-based comfort food ready to take over the US market with the tagline: “Thank you Colonel, we’ll take it from here.”
“The United States gave KFC to the world, and we want to give VFC back. We want to be like the Beatles and the Stones and bring that food across the pond,” Glover said.
Why You Should Care About Vegan Chicken
VFC chicken products are marketed as grocery staples similar in taste and packaging to typical frozen meat products, but with a very different mission than Tyson or Eckrich Farms. For VFC, it is a “rebellion against a system that has brought us climate change, environmental destruction, factory farming and slaughterhouses”.
In addition to the benefits, the team, knowing the many benefits of going vegan, is driven by a higher goal of elevating the vegan space. Glover’s efforts to elevate meatless foods include founding Veganuary with his wife, Jane Land. The campaign asks consumers to pledge to eat plant-based foods for the month of January – a fitting time after the New Year when everyone is looking to eat healthier. Since its launch in 2014, approximately two million people in more than 220 countries and territories have taken the pledge. It was a cold January, in fact, when Glover first missed his beloved vegan patty.
The founder also created Veg Capital “to provide seed investment to companies developing vegan meat, dairy, egg and seafood substitutes,” which VFC fits with a T. The company aims to provide via attitude and flavor, rejecting the status quo to spark a positive food revolution that celebrates delicious and comforting vegan foods. Instead of looking for a niche, VFC aims to bring vegans and meat eaters together with tasty meat alternatives that challenge the entire meat industry. It starts with the packaging.
“As for the packaging, I said I didn’t care what color it was as long as it was red,” Glover said. “Other vegan brands are green and brown, presented as healthy and hippy. We wanted to create something that really popped.
Does plant-based chicken really taste good?
The key to success, however, is the product. Without quality products, all the marketing efforts in the world will not save it. To that end, VFC is reporting very positive reactions to its chicken alternative.
“At Expo West (natural food convention), Vegetable News, a vegan news platform, tried all the different brands of chicken, and VFC ranked number one for taste profile and texture against top performers. established like MorningStar and Beyond Chicken,” Glover said.
“I hear a lot of comments about how crunchy this one is,” VFC general manager Craig Bowlin said. “A lot of people came away fascinated. They would take a sample, bite it and turn around and say, ‘Fuck (shit) this is good.’
VFC’s Vegan Chicken isn’t just for vegans
VFC does not describe its product as a health food. The goal is to compete on taste and convince all styles of eaters that VFC is a worthy meat substitute.
“It’s not a health food,” said co-founder Matthew Glover. “It’s something you’ll eat while watching football or sports on TV. We compete with hamburgers, sausages and other meats. »
The wheat and soy product will, of course, be healthier for the circulatory systems than heavy meats and will have less of a natural impact. Anyone who wants to chat with “the most rebellious and innovative vegan food company in the world” is welcome.
“We’re taking the mickey out of our trolls,” Glover said. “Ten years of being vegan, and you’re getting used to the same old comments that you need to debunk. ‘You can’t call that chicken’ or ‘I’d rather have a wasp stuck in my butt than eat that.’ We try to be funny in our response to these people.
Glover credits his wife Jane Land with much of the troll killing, wielding British sarcasm without judgment like a knight in line fighting monsters under a bridge. This back-and-forth led to an incredible 6% engagement across social media channels, creating a loyal customer base for the new business.
“It’s so unique in the category – the tone of voice, the packaging and the fun conversation. To have that with a retailer is so different, and people appreciate that,” Bowlin said.
Since its inception, the brand has saved more than 142,000 British chickens and gone into hiding to expose KFC’s disastrous factory farming standards, the story which broke on The Guardian.