My journey to create Fungtn, a more mindful vegan craft beer for conscious consumers

As the Ethical Globe community grows, we’ll be sharing the stories of some of the amazing vegan entities listed in our directory.

In today’s blog, Zoey Henderson from Fungtn tells us more about her journey to create the first adaptogenic, alcohol-free beer brewed with functional mushrooms – a beer that recently won UK Bronze in the IPA category of the World Beer Awards.

At heart, I’m a real foodie. My first business was a juice bar, which sparked my interest in superfoods and looking at how what we eat directly affects us.

I see the foods that we consume as a vehicle to habitual behaviour change. I also think that when we make empowering decisions around food, we can commit to take our health and the health of the planet into our own hands.

It was seven years ago on a trip to America that I first discovered the amazing medicinal mushrooms we now use in Fungtn. At the time, I used them to help improve my own health and became fascinated by their historical use and powerful compounds. This inspired me to begin researching fungi and mushrooms in depth.

I wanted to create a vegan craft beer that breaks the mould

While doing this research, I was still working in the hospitality industry – a sector where I’d spent 15 years.

During this time, I recognised that people often put drinking alcohol at the centre of social events, even though there’s growing evidence that alcohol can have truly negative effects on our mental health and overall wellbeing.

What I realised is that drinking is just a form of social currency. It’s the coming together with good company that’s at the heart of socialising, not alcohol itself.

I started to think, what if there could be a way to combine social ceremony with the taste of a great craft beer without the hangover and physical/mental downsides of drinking alcohol?

And what if I could use my favourite adaptogen, the medicinal mushrooms I had spent so long researching, to achieve this?

I am passionate about getting more adaptogenic fungi and plants into our everyday diets to help empower our own health choices with the mainstreaming of functional foods.

Fungtn was born from this fusion of my career, travels and passions as a foodie.

Fungtn today

With my mission clear in my mind, I worked with a brewing consultant to develop Fungtn, the first adaptogenic, alcohol-free beer brewed with functional mushrooms. It’s a premium craft beer range that goes beyond just removing the alcohol for a more mindful beer to keeping your mind and body in good form.

Fungtn is a beer range for conscious consumers who want to reduce their alcohol consumption and empower their health. We’ve proven that traditional craft beer can be made without animal derivatives, be gluten-free and align with those making more mindful choices.

I was thrilled when Fungtn won UK Bronze in the IPA category of the World Beer Awards.

The vegan business community is incredibly supportive

Developing Fungtn has shown me how truly support the vegan business community is of entrepreneurs.

While there are always networking and start-up groups in every industry, the passionate connection that brings vegan business together is really strong. We are all, of course, stiving to build viable businesses but when the ethics behind our missions are based on compassion and a collective drive to help create a kinder, more substantiable future, it feels really powerful.

Where I found support to grow Fungtn

The community behind The Vegan Business Tribe was amazing during the early stages of developing Fungtn. They bring together entrepreneurs that are just starting out and help validate their concepts and open up ideas and support to an engaged community.

As the business grew, I turned to larger platforms like Vevolution and Beyond Animal to help raise funds and bring in investment for growth.

There are whole plant-based investment platforms like Kale United that are bringing big investment into vegan products.

It’s this powerful collective that’s helping vegan brands like Fungtn to grow and enter the mainstream space; not only with great products and innovative solutions to remove dependence on animal products but as a global message that plant-based means business.

My advice to other vegan entrepreneurs

Firstly, well done for deciding to create a business where your ethics and morals are driving the decisions. This is amazing as it’s not always the easiest route!

Although the mainstream is coming round to the “trend” of plant-based, and vegan is no longer a misunderstood and culturally-loaded word, we are still in a niche market that needs clear propositioning, great products and passionate brand owners to push their messages.

I have three key pieces of advice for you based on my own experiences:

  1. Create a viable business or product. Passion and ethics will only get you so far – you need a good business idea and to be solving a problem. Any business needs to start the same: research, product testing, market analysis and a good business plan with realistic financial projections.
  2. Find your tribe. Networking groups are not only great ways to help grow as an entrepreneur, but they can also offer new customers and connections in your target market.
  3. Shout about what you are doing. Make your mission part of your brand (Oatly or Beyond Meat are two great examples of this). Your brand is your voice, use it!

For anyone wondering, no, functional mushrooms are not magic, and no, your beer won’t taste like mushrooms! Fungtn vegan craft beer tastes great while being good for your body and mind. You can find out more via the links below:

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