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The ‘Slow Money’ phenomenon started by mission driven investor Woody Tasch, is a community building initiative focused on routing financial resources into neighborhood food commerce, farms, and systems. Tasch’s nurture capital philosophy is designed to infuse food-related businesses with sustainable financial resources that better connect investors to their local investments. The Slow Money Institute provides communities with resources that help them to mobilize local groups to raise and deliver capital. The organization boasts over $66 million in deals to 697 food enterprises to date. While the slow money model’s potential for ecological sustainability through long-term, committed investment presents an exciting promise of environment protection, there is more that can be done to ensure that it also protects animals.

There is great incentive for commercial enterprises to explore plant-based food farming and manufacturing. “Although vegan food products lie in a niche market segment, it is growing rapidly due to the extensive adoption of veganism, globally. The other factors that contribute to the rising consumption of vegan food products are ecological footprint and abstinence from animal cruelty,” according to a case study issued by Infiniti Research. In 2012, sales of plant-based protein totaled about $553 million, and researchers project the same market to draw $5 billion globally by 2020.

Because of the model’s focus on local context and neighborhood investments, investors have the power to ensure that food growers and retailers are engaging in ethical practices are concerned. This means underwriting organizations that abstain from both the slaughter, exploitation and suffering of animals, as well as the diminishment of their natural habitats.

Enter: regenerative agriculture and vegan certifications.

Regenerative agriculture is a fairly new farming initiative focused on rebuilding topsoil and bolstering biodiversity. The technique offers ecological benefits like slowing soil erosion, protecting groundwater purity, and remineralizing soil. Regenerative farming also, “values the diversity of polycultures, in which animals and plants form a complex, symbiotic, robust system,” according to author and speaker Charles Eisenstein.

Food-focused businesses benefitting from slow money practices should also consider vegan certifications to ensure they are meeting specific, cruelty-free standards in their product manufacturing process. “The Certified Vegan Logo is a registered trademark, similar in nature to the kosher mark, for products that do not contain animal products or byproducts and that have not been tested on animals. The certified logo is easily visible to consumers interested in vegan products and helps vegans to shop without constantly consulting ingredient lists.” Because of the ample visibility of the vegan trademark, target consumers easily recognize and purchase the animal-free products they know and love with ease.

We would like to better understand how the Slow Money Institute is supporting the continued and consistent local investment of eco-conscious and cruelty-free businesses. This requires full desistance from animal testing, animal-based products and slaughter. Slow money beneficiaries should consider participating in audited certification programs with set, rigorous standards to make it easy for customers to actively invest in eco-conscious business. And, of course, since plant-based commerce is on the rise, cruelty-free entrepreneurs and existing business owners can operate with the potential for profit in mind. Alarmingly, failure to incorporate mandates for such humane and ethical practices could result in the further degradation of the environment and the brutal and unnecessary slaughter of animals.