Vegan women's business advocate Jennifer Stojkovic on the guest list at Planted Expo Vancouver

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      Plant-based foods will play a critical role in combatting the global climate crisis. But women who start businesses in the animal-alternatives sector often feel that they don’t receive equal treatment from financiers, according to a report by San Francisco-based Vegan Women Summit.

      It surveyed 145 women founders of organizations in the plant-based, food technology, and animal-alternatives industry across six continents in November and December of last year. And 85 percent of them cited gender bias specifically, which was a 23 percent increase over the results from a similar study a year earlier.

      “The gender gap in investing is profound across all industries with no exception to the plant-based, food technology and animal alternatives industry,” the report states. “Unfortunately, despite increased investment in the space, gender bias continues to be prevalent and increasing in the industry.”

      More than one in three respondents self-identified as women of colour. Of them, three out of every five surveyed stated that they encountered bias, and almost two in five reported facing racial bias in the fundraising process.

      The Vegan Women Summit was founded by food-industry activist and former Toronto resident Jennifer Stojkovic. She will be one of several speakers at the Planted Expo Vancouver convention on June 4 and 5. It’s billed by the promoter,, as Canada’s largest plant-based event, with more than 200 vegan-based businesses all under one roof at Vancouver Convention Centre West.

      Among the other speakers is celebrity chef Chanthy Yen, the personal chef to Justin Trudeau and owner of the Nightshade vegan restaurant in Yaletown. Other speakers at Planted Expo include Seaspiracy director Ali Tabrizi, U.S. ultramarathoner and author Scott Jurek, dietician and author Vesanto Melina, and Vancouver streetball legend Joel Haywood.