I am so excited about this company! They care about the environment, the animals, human rights, sustainability and more. They have a huge vision, and I think many people would love to see the fruition of it! With a mindset like this, I think Hilary and Alberto will achieve success in whatever they focus on. The best part is, they're not selfish, so the gains of their ventures will be felt by many!
Read this interview with Sgaia and you'll see what I mean! :)
What does Sgaia specialise in?
Broadly, Sgaia is a food manufacturing company. Our launch product is a vegan meat equivalent very similar to what you may have heard of as “seitan” or “mock duck”, but we have played with the recipe and ingredient ratio over the past year to create an entirely different, unique product.
We are the first UK based artisan producers of such a food and have made it a valid, tasty, satisfying protein rich ingredient that can be used by, and has been created for, vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike.
It crisps when fried, becomes tender in stews and can be chopped, sliced into strips, stuck on kebab sticks, ground to a rough mince and even sliced thinly and made into a hearty sandwich filling just as it is.
We’ve always felt that there is a lack of wholesome, vegan meat equivalents in the UK market which aren’t imported, frozen and/or that do not contain enormous amounts of fat, over-processed ingredients and endless lists of preservatives and flavour enhancers.
Mheat is virtually fat-free, protein-rich and has nine recognisable ingredients in total, one of which is water!
Ultimately, we want Sgaia to become a community through which to channel positive messages, to unite individuals in order to enable change and we want to help promote environmental awareness and the growth of environmental technologies.
We want our company to grow and flourish, involving as many people as possible, to create jobs, organise events and offer other vegan equivalents to mainstream cruelty-laden products.
We want to reach a point at which we are able to invest in projects that can heal the planet we're living on, be it a set of innovative solar panels, or a way to recycle water from sewage systems. If we can invest in this with karma-free money, made by selling cruelty-free alternatives to otherwise cruelty-buying customers, I feel we will have accomplished something huge. Obviously this is looking far into the future, but we're dreaming big! For the moment, we’re focusing on creating tasty cruelty-free food products.
Where is Sgaia based?
Our kitchen facility is in Paisley (Glasgow), as are our offices. I currently live in Edinburgh, while Alberto lives in Paisley.
Do you exclusively serve those who are local to you or can others who are further away buy your products too? If so, how?
We offer a delivery service to caterers and shops who wish to buy wholesale within the Glasgow area. The product is sold online, so we provide a fully chilled delivery (at a surcharge for now, but we’re working on lowering the costs as the business grows), for all customers in the UK. We do not deliver internationally for the moment, but it’s something we’re looking into for the near future! Hopefully we’ll also be able to get our product on some independent shop shelves in Edinburgh and Glasgow very soon.
What inspired you to create a business that solely focuses on food, the environment and veganism?
This is a tough one! There’s just so much to say. Alberto and I both have backgrounds as media professionals. Our eyes and ears are sore from the sight and sound of violence, poverty, and injustice throughout documentary media. We chose to live a cruelty free life when we realised that we wanted our lives to be meaningful, to make a change and help restore the planet's well-being through awareness.
That said, awareness comes in many different forms. One of these forms is food. Food is probably the largest and most influential element in our lives. It determines our physical well-being, shapes a great part of our cultural heritage, and brings us together for social purposes. Food is health, culture, and community.
There are few other things that matter more in life than these three components, all of which are strongly regulated by what we eat. As much as it influences our private lives, the Food Industry is also the UK’s largest Manufacturing Sector. It’s huge. And has a huge impact on environmental balance, on the population’s health, and on the accessibility to jobs.
We started off as customers for a product that didn't exist, so we created it. We have created something that resonates familiarity also to those who aren't connected to plant-based living. The whole purpose of our enterprise is not only to enrich the quality and quantity of vegan products available on the market, but to also lower overall meat consumption: for the planet, for the animals, for our health, for our conscience.
We do not oppose or replace; we offer something that can be an equivalent. Where there is a valid choice, an equal choice; we strongly believe that the innate benevolent nature of humankind can truly shine.
With Sgaia, we want to help all eyes fearlessly observe, understand and acknowledge the larger picture, starting from the food industry.
The media can reach our eyes and the ears, but we're targeting the heart and soul: that's where change is stirred in human beings. We’re both avid foodies, passionate about food culture, about wholesome, plant-based cooking, which is innovative, creative, tasty and original.
We are Italian in origin and are strongly attached to our culinary cultural heritage. For these reasons, we're embarking on this enterprise from the very core of what makes us who we are: the food that we eat.
Where does the name ‘Sgaia' come from?
This links strongly to who Alberto and I are as people. We are both from the Italian region of Veneto, and are strongly attached to our Italian heritage. Sgaia [sga-ee-ah] is a very popular word in Venetian dialect to describe someone who is cheerful, animated and positive. It is also used to define someone who is resourceful, quick-witted and versatile.
We believe that all human beings have a bit of sgaia in them and that positivity and resourcefulness are the best ways to make the world we’re living in a better place. It’s certainly the attitude that drove us to take the plunge and embark on such an epic enterprise!
How easy is it for you to source cruelty free, sustainable, high quality and natural ingredients or your products?
It’s easy as can be. All you have to do is search the internet and spend a good deal of time talking to people over the phone. Honestly, the quantity and quality of food coops is amazing. Obviously, it took us a while to identify products that had the standard of quality that we were looking for, but once we secured the ingredient list, it was just a matter of sourcing the ingredients from local cooperatives and wholesalers. We currently only work with UK-based suppliers, one of which is Greencity Wholefoods in Glasgow!
Is Sgaia owned by, or in partnership with, another company that tests on animals or sell non-vegan products?
Absolutely not! Sgaia Foods is run and operated entirely by myself and Alberto. We test on each other and have found that it’s the best way to figure out if the food we’re making is good; along with always having lunch and dinner sorted ;)
What is your vision for Sgaia?
As I said before, Sgaia isn’t just going to be a food business. We’re starting from food, but want to ultimately make Sgaia into a large, prosperous, thriving, positive happy family of human beings working over different media, using different vehicles and outputs to work towards a healthier, happier planet, encouraging humankind to be more engaged, conscious and aware.
Ultimately, we want to create space for expression, opportunities for success, events for networking, food for thought. It’s all a big dream for now, but hopefully Mheat will help us get there.