Ravinder Bhogal: You started your career as a chef in New York cooking the classics, but how did the vegan epiphany come about?
Matthew Kenney: It was a long, slow journey where I learned to be more intuitive – not just about my own body, but about the environment and sustainability. Over the course of many years, I started gravitating towards a more vegetarian and plant-based diet, and then I was introduced to a plant-based restaurant in the East Village in New York and it was just a lightbulb moment where I decided that’s where I should focus my career and personal life.
RB: What are the innovations in plant-based food that are exciting you the most?
MK: There are so many engineers and scientists who are finding solutions which allow plant-based to be better than its non-plant-based counterpart. There are endless opportunities that exist because of all the talent coming into the industry – science, food agrotech and food technology are a really big part of why we’re able to see plant-based growing the way it is.
RB: How can a plant-based diet help contribute to slowing the effects of the climate crisis and how do you make sure that what you put on the menu is sustainable?
MK: We are facing water scarcity, food supply security and issues related to the agriculture that’s utilised to produce dairy products and animal products. It’s easy to do the math when you look at the increasing population, the distance food has to travel, the limited resources we have and the climate crisis. Plant-based is an easy solution, and it also lends itself to technology like indoor, vertical and hydroponic growing. It’s faster, less expensive, uses less resources and is better for our bodies.