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Behavior Change
Fueling the Plant-Based Revolution from Platform to Plate

Abillion founder & CEO Vikas Garg shares insights and impacts from the app — which has become the world’s largest consumer-review platform for vegan foods and products.

Today's conscientious consumers are increasingly aware of the many ways our global food system has fueled the climate crisis: Not only is livestock agriculture responsible for approximately 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, it is also the leading driver of Amazon rainforest deforestation and sucks up a quarter of the Earth’s freshwater resources at a time when increasing droughts are taking an increasing toll on irrigation systems and electricity providers around the world.

What we eat also fuels world hunger, especially since half of the world’s habitable land is used to grow staple crops — the overwhelming majority of which are fed to livestock, rather than people — which means the more people eat meat, the fewer people can be fed. The fact is, if enough people across the globe switched to an entirely or predominantly plant-based diet, we could feed billions more people and free up 75 percent of agricultural land.

A small platform making a big impact

In 2018, Indian-American entrepreneur Vikas Garg launched Abillion — a mobile app that helps users find and promote vegan products. In 2021, Abillion raised $10 million in a highly successful Series A investment round — a solid endorsement for the growing online community dedicated to changing the world’s consumption habits for the better.

Sustainable Brands® spoke with Garg about his vision and plans for the app that has garnered over 12.3 million users globally.

What inspired you to create Abillion?

Vikas Garg: I had never used Facebook or Twitter or Instagram — I had always thought the idea of social media was narcissistic and just kind of playful. Then in 2016, I was amazed by all the misinformation spreading on these platforms and how they were dividing society in the name of likes and clicks. I thought all these platforms should have some form of values or ethics.

Fast forward a few years. After moving to Singapore as a hedge fund manager, I took a pause and thought — is it possible to design algorithms to create social benefits and spread information that turns mindless scrolling into mindfulness? Is it possible to make something like this fun but also capable of triggering compassion and a desire to be more sustainable, along with a desire to connect others with shared values and inspire people to take collective action to make the world a better place?

As a long-term vegan myself, I wondered — how can we help people realize that it all comes down to what’s on your plate? Whether you’re talking about children in emerging markets and their access to education and fresh water, or land resources or carbon or world hunger, it all comes down to what we choose to put on our plates.

If we can foster a sense of purpose and values on the decisions we make every day, that can have a massive ripple effect in changing the world. That was the idea behind Abilllion. So I left my career in 2017 to pursue this mission.

How does Abillion work and what have been its impacts?

VG: We’ve created what has become the world’s largest consumer-review platform for plant-based products. We have over a million products across around 240,000 businesses, and everything on our platform must be vegan. Half of those are consumer-products companies and half are restaurants — 130,000 restaurants in 188 countries have been reviewed. We believe giving people voices along with a seat at the table is the best way to effectuate change — not from the top down. Relying on policy and government or corporations to actually be the first to act, that rarely works; it’s consumers that really create revolutions.

We’ve created a consumer-review platform that creates a meritocracy for those who got the best vegan food. That includes vegan restaurants, but also steakhouses — because if we can get a steakhouse to go from nothing on their menu that is plant-based, to where they offer four or five vegan options and people start ordering them because they’re good, even that creates a massive change.

We’re trying to democratize access to this lifestyle around the world. What’s really interesting is that more than half of our users are meat-eaters, and our biggest markets are in places like Argentina, Australia, Brazil, South Africa — very meaty places. But there’s a rise in consciousness of people who at least want to reduce their meat consumption.

We’ve created a user experience that’s very social — so, it combines the social aspects of social media apps with the utility and consumer advocacy you get out of consumer-review platforms — which also attracts businesses. There are already 240,000 businesses on our platform.

Abillion is the world’s first consumer-to-consumer marketplace for all things vegan. Anyone in the world can get on there and list a (vegan) product or service to sell. Our 12.3 million users worldwide can effectively support these small business owners through our marketplace.

Regarding our social impact, we’ve worked with over 100 charities worldwide. If somebody purchases something sustainable, either vegan food or an ethically made product, our company gives them a small reward in the form of money to make a donation to a selected charity. Through this system, we’ve already donated almost US$3 million to save animals, feed hungry people and support humanitarian causes.

What’s next for Abillion?

VG: We want to keep expanding our reach, getting more people involved and creating a positive transformation in society. If you asked me to rate ourselves from a 0 to 10 as to where I would like us to be, I’d give us a 2 or 3 with regards to progress on our journey. We still have a long way to go.

It may take the rest of my life, but I’m really committed and really excited to work on this goal. That’s the big picture. When it comes to the product itself, we’re working on making the user experience incredible and memorable for people — something people feel proud to spend their time on.

We want to create an economy within our ecosystem that genuinely makes people want to live more sustainably and make this way of life second nature to them.