“Meat” made from vegetables and cassava cheese, a new export offering
Lidia Díaz and Braulio Villalona, owners of Plant Powered, an innovative company founded in 2017. EXTERNAL
Santo Domingo, DR
Lidia Díaz and Braulio Villalona founded Plant Powered in 2017. Their idea of making food with plants has caught the attention of many people who see in this venture a window of help for their need to eat “vegan” meals, which replace meats.
They started with their savings. Their meats are made from mushrooms and soy, free of gluten. The cheeses are made with a synthesis of cassava, rice protein, and indigenous technology to give them texture.
According to Lidia Díaz, the name “Plant-Powered” means “Empowered by plants,” Its logo is a rhinoceros because it is a solid and noble animal that does not require more than vegetation as food for its strength.
Their business is of interest to vegan consumers inside and outside the Dominican Republic. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MICM) and Prodominicana have encouraged them to begin exporting to Mexico, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
The creation of their products is very much aligned to the future, and climate change needs to prioritize environmental protection with food made from plants of the earth.
“With our product proposal in 2019, we were able to help our consumers save 4.7 million gallons of water and 34,000 pounds of C02,” explained Lidia Diaz.
This venture generates three types of impact through economic, ecological, and social results. The food of this innovative business substitutes chicken, ground beef, and vegetable hamburgers. They also offer vegan sancocho, sheet cakes, Quinoa quipes, gluten-free, vegan alternatives, mozzarella cheese, leaf cheese, and liquid cheddar.
Lidia Diaz is from Santo Domingo. She is 32 years old, and her joviality and openness are typical of the warmth of the native Dominican. She quickly answered questions with great kindness, which is also essential for a businessperson, especially an entrepreneur. Still, one of her most notable qualities is her attachment to nature, to natural products that have less impact on the environment and generate sustainable development.
Braulio Villalona, her partner, is from Santiago. They both stopped eating animal-based foods: Lidia eight years ago and Braulio 40 years ago, which motivated them to develop their products in the market. Knowingly or not, their company contributes to the guidelines recommended by the United Nations for countries to reduce the environmental impact and its direct effects on the climate that have brought fires, storms, thawing, and high temperatures, among other evils.
In addition to meat and dairy substitutes, they offer avant-garde elaborations of traditional gastronomy, since with their brands Nero’s and She Is! they have conquered the local market through supermarket chains, specialized stores, and foodservice operators, he explained.
A rhinoceros logo
The choice of a rhinoceros as logo, explained Lidia Díaz, is because it identifies with the way of doing and living of her enterprise. “We go forward like the rhinoceros, and we have strength through our food,” emphasizes Lidia Díaz.
Lidia Diaz and Braulio Villalona’s idea is based on sustainable production and environmental protection, from the creation of foods that replace meat proteins. They are “vegans” and could not find this type of food on the market.
“We have set out to develop avant-garde versions of our traditional gastronomy so that people have options to make more sustainable food choices,” Diaz explained.
They were selected as one of the 30 Business Promises 2021 by Forbes Central America and positioned two consecutive years in ranking the 500 best social and environmental projects in Latin America in the Latin America Green Awards 2020 and 2021, among others.