Plant-Powered Prosperity: Sadrah Schadel Of No Evil Foods On 5 Things You Need To Create A Successful Plant-Based Product Business

Plant-Powered Prosperity: Sadrah Schadel Of No Evil Foods On 5 Things You Need To Create A Successful Plant-Based Product Business


Flexibility & focus. Identify your values, build a memorable brand, and have a solid business & growth plan. These elements will establish your guardrails and keep you from straying off course. But, don’t be rigid. You need to remain open to new information, constantly re-evaluate your priorities, and strive to improve every day.

The plant-based revolution is here. As consumers globally are shifting towards more eco-conscious and health-oriented choices, the demand for plant-based products has never been higher. From food and beverages to cosmetics and clothing, the plant-based industry is blossoming with opportunities. But how does one tap into this growing market? What are the key ingredients to launching and scaling a successful plant-based product business? In this interview series, we are exploring the world of plant-based entrepreneurship. We are talking to founders, product developers, industry experts, and innovators who have successfully navigated the plant-based business landscape. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Sadrah Schadel, CEO at No Evil Foods, & Advisor at Consciously Planted.

Sadrah Schadel is a pioneering leader in the plant-based food industry, serving as the co-founder and CEO of No Evil Foods. Under her guidance, No Evil Foods became the world’s first Certified Plastic Negative plant-based meat brand, a Certified Fair Chance Business, and joined multiple lists recognizing innovation & global leadership in sustainable business. Sadrah leverages her position as a Board Member of the Plant Based Food Association, where she co-chairs the Sustainability Committee, and shares her inspirational journey at speaking engagements and summits worldwide.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Igrew up the only girl, among three brothers, on a dirt road in western NY. My brothers and I were homeschooled and raised vegetarian. My parents were very influenced by Diet for a Small Planet and the back-to-the-land movements. They sought ways to live simply but well on the land. We had 14 acres and spent our days tending gardens, discovering the wonder of forested spaces, and caring for our companion animals that ranged from chickens and bunnies to goats and sheep. I distinctly remember my mom saying, “We care for the animals before we take care of ourselves,” which sometimes meant lugging pails of fresh water up a hillside in the snow before breakfast.

Without the structural constraint of traditional school schedules, we were involved in a lot of activities and volunteer work. I developed some of my most valuable mindsets because of my childhood. First and foremost, my love and respect for animals. I also learned the value of giving my time to show up for others, self-determination, perseverance, and the mentality that it’s ok to do things differently. Anything I want to know how to do, I can teach myself or learn from my community.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

The DIY mentality is a definite trait that has been a constant in my entrepreneurial journey. Leadership, start-ups, and small businesses are not for the faint of heart. You cannot be afraid to roll up your sleeves to get things done. When I started No Evil Foods, we were a two person team with no budget. I built our website, designed our packaging, developed our social media presence, produced the product, made sales presentations, worked the farmers market booth, did the grocery store demos, made our weekly deliveries. It is critical to have a strong belief that you’re capable of doing something you’ve never done before and the resourcefulness to figure it out.

I’m a creative person who is comfortable working outside of my comfort zone. Unconventional ideas lead to breakthroughs and it’s what sets me apart in a world of conformity. It’s my superpower for problem solving and innovation. But, I’ve had to learn to temper it over the years because there are situations where pushing the envelope pays off and times when playing by the rules makes better business sense. If I make a canned goods product, for example, my creative mind might think about how cool a rectangular shaped can would be, instead of the traditional cylinder shape. My logical thinking needs to come into balance with my creativity to push back on an idea like this because of the added costs and logistical burden of stepping so far outside of standard packaging.

Finally, I show up as my full and authentic self. I don’t change myself for the comfort of others. I am not for everyone, my brand is not for everyone. I’m ok with that. This self-confidence is definitely a trait that translates to successful leadership, especially as a female founder. You need to be able to kick imposter syndrome to the curb and believe in your right to be in the room. Entrepreneurship demands confidence and confidence creates opportunities. It opens doors, attracts partners, and inspires others to believe in your vision.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I’ve recently stepped more fully into the role of business coach & advisor for other founders and companies in the sustainable and plant-based space and I’m surprised by how much it invigorates me! Especially on days when I may be feeling extra burnt out working at my own company. I’ve found that the best remedy for that feeling is to step away from my own BS and help someone else. With 9 years of experience, I can almost guarantee that whatever challenge(s) someone is facing, I have been through it before.

Because I’ve been really open not only about No Evil Foods’ wins but also its challenges, I think it sets the stage for other founders and entrepreneurs to come into an advisory relationship with me with a lot more honesty and vulnerability. This industry can be very isolating and there’s so much expectation to put a positive spin on things — it’s exhausting! And it’s harmful. When we can be more humble, more honest, and less guarded about our struggles we open ourselves to making the connections that really move us forward.

No Evil Foods also has new products on the horizon. Our most recent new product was Best Life Beef in 2022, and we’re excited to kick off 2024 with 5 new products, including our first ever gluten-free variety. I’m unbelievably excited to double our product offerings and expand into some new protein territory as well.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview about creating a successful plant-based product business. What inspired you to enter the plant-based product industry? Did you have a turning point or eureka moment that led you into the plant-based industry? Can you share some key milestones that helped shape your journey to success?

Being raised in a vegetarian household, I’ve been a part of plant-based foods before it was an industry! My family used to shop at our local coop and buy tempeh by the caseload. Because I grew up with plant-based foods as the norm, I never gave the way I ate much thought, very much in the same way I think, that someone who grows up eating animal meat doesn’t think about it. Most of us have the privilege to eat without questioning its origins. We’re very fortunate that when mealtime comes, food appears on the table. We don’t have to think about it.

But, a few years before starting No Evil Foods, the local foods movement was really gaining traction and food, its production, its journey from farm to plate, and its environmental and ethical impacts started to enter the conversation. I was really taken in by this movement and it reignited a desire in me to grow my own food. I spent 7 months working on organic and sustainable farms in South America before leaving Philadelphia and moving back to the dirt road where I grew up to get back-to-the-land in much the same way my parents had done more than 30 years before me.

My partner Mike (and eventual co-founder of No Evil Foods) and I were opting out of as many consumer purchases as possible. We were making our own toothpaste, our own deodorant. We had a lovely 4 season garden, a composting toilet. We tapped our maple trees and fermented the cabbage we grew. But one of the things we still purchased in the grocery store was our plant-based proteins. When we started to look at those products through the same lens of our other purchases we started to notice this gaping chasm between health, taste, and recognizable plant-based ingredients. The products we were buying were letting us down, so we harnessed that DIY spirit and started creating a better plant-based protein that is actually made from common ingredients. It was versatile, texturally rich, boldly seasoned and it was instantly a hit with our family and friends. A few years later, we joined a farmers market and started selling those same kitchen-crafted Plant Meats as No Evil Foods.

What do you believe are the key factors behind the recent surge in demand for plant-based products, and how can aspiring entrepreneurs authentically tap into this growing trend?

We’re living in a time where there’s a product for every motivation, that is to say, as demand and interest for plant based foods grows, the industry has responded with countless applications to fulfill every meal occasion. As someone who has shopped in this category for my entire life, it’s truly remarkable. I’ve always been a believer that we can have extraordinary impact by making the best choices as often as we can. And I don’t think I’m alone in that.

The three main drivers for plant-based products are personal health and wellness, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare. Many consumers are increasingly aware of the health benefits associated with eating more plants and decreasing their meat consumption, so they’re choosing plant-based foods to support their overall well-being and reduce the risk of chronic diet-related diseases. Environmental sustainability is another huge driver as concerns mount about climate change, deforestation, and resource depletion and the awareness that animal agriculture is a massive contributor to those environmental impacts grows. Choosing plant-based foods is one of the most environmentally impactful choices a consumer can make and people are cutting back as a direct action. And of course ethical and animal welfare considerations come into play. With so many nutrient dense plant-based foods readily available people realize that there’s a better way to nourish themselves — and it doesn’t involve the cruelty and exploitation of animals in the meat and dairy industries.

How do you envision the evolution of consumer preferences in the next 5–10 years?

5–10 years is a lifetime in the evolution of consumer preferences! Considering the several trends and factors that have been shaping this market, I think there are a few key indicators of what is likely to influence consumers in the years to come. The demand for plant based foods will continue to grow — and with it will come consumers who are increasingly looking for foods that are lower in saturated fats and sodium, and higher in fiber. I predict that consumers will continue to prioritize convenience and health, and they will look for products that help them achieve those goals. As the real impacts of climate change continue to affect our lives, consumers will look to brands to play a bigger role in sustainability, and align their purchases accordingly. As the demand for plant-based foods continues to rise, brands will adapt their product lines to include many cultural and regional variations. And consumers will expect to see increased accessibility and affordability. As the plant-based foods industry matures, consumers will anticipate that prices will become more competitive, however, this will also require the evolution of government policies and incentives geared toward leveling the playing field for plant-based products.

What is your favorite plant-based product (not necessarily your own) and what makes it stand out? What can we all learn from the appeal of that product?

I was at the Plant Based World Expo in NYC in September and tried THE BEST vegan cheese. It’s from this tiny little company in VT called Nourish (the planet). They make this amazing cultured & aged cashew cheese with a Candidum (brie) or Roquefort (blue) bloom. It is so rich, creamy, and delightful — I just love it. And I think it’s got huge potential. One of the things I hear over and over is, “I could be vegan, but I really love cheese.” If that’s the only thing holding you back, well, this cheese could change that.

Based on your experience, what are some of the biggest myths or misconceptions people have about the plant-based industry?

When it comes to plant based foods, people often complain that it’s difficult to replace foods you love, it’s nutritionally deficient, it’s expensive, and it’s restrictive. Some people like to argue that dairy is necessary for strong bones, or that you need meat to effectively build muscle strength. And of course, the most tired myth of all is that it’s impossible to get enough protein on a plant-based diet.

Developing and marketing plant-based products often involves unique challenges, from sourcing quality ingredients and sustainable packaging to building a brand that resonates with consumers. What strategies have you found most effective in overcoming these hurdles?

People chose No Evil Foods because they know our products are made with recognizable, simple ingredients. We make an effort to develop and scale our recipes with a culinary approach that prioritizes flavor and simplicity. We get emails every day from customers about how grateful they are that we exist because of our carefully selected ingredients. We’re also known for our sustainable packaging commitments. We started with a home-compostable paperboard carton, and then transitioned to our current packaging which reduced our GHG emissions by 80%. We’re also the first plant-based meat brand to become Plastic Negative Certified. So, everytime someone purchases one of our products, they’re actually helping to remove two plastic bags from natural ecosystems. I think that really connects with our consumers.

The plant-based market continues to evolve and grow. What advice can you offer to individuals looking to launch their own plant-based product businesses? Are there any critical lessons or insights you’ve gained along the way that you’d like to share with aspiring entrepreneurs in this field? Based on your experience can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Create A Successful Plant-Based Product Business”.

1 . In an industry as mission-driven as plant-based is, it’s crucial to balance the head and the heart. For example, developing the skills to balance critical sustainability initiatives with business acumen will ensure that you are building a company that is both financially and environmentally sound. Founders of mission-driven enterprises often lead with their hearts, armed with little more than the stubborn belief that “business should be done differently.” The truth is, business should be done differently, but one can only be successful when balancing boundary pushing initiatives with traditional business sense. We need to have the self-awareness that our business cannot be all things to all people, and that through building sound paths to profitability we are ensuring that we have the financial solvency to build the “better business” we dream of.

2 . Flexibility & focus. Identify your values, build a memorable brand, and have a solid business & growth plan. These elements will establish your guardrails and keep you from straying off course. But, don’t be rigid. You need to remain open to new information, constantly re-evaluate your priorities, and strive to improve every day.

3 . Financial literacy for founders. I encourage all founders to think about their margins and pricing structures from the start. Set your SRP based on a solid understanding of the true margins of your products, process, and COGs. Avoid the temptation to price your products in alignment with a competitor — their margins are not your margins. Instead, set your prices based on strong unit economics and then establish a go-to-market strategy that aligns your product with a market/consumer/geographic area that will support your price point. Don’t bank on making up for bad margins with economies of scale — it rarely happens. Become an expert in budgeting, cash flow management, and seek investment wisely. Give yourself a chance to succeed straight out of the gate.

4 . Reshape your expectations for capital investment and come to terms with a realistic and manageable pace of growth. This will look different than the hockey stick growth trajectory we’ve all been sold on Shark Tank. Picture your growth like ascending a mountain and give yourself lots of opportunities to pause and admire the view. Following each push toward the top take time at the ‘overlook’ to catch your breath and regain your equilibrium before setting back out on the climb. You’ve got this!

5 . Patience. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s likely you’re also Type A. You want to go, go, go, reach the top and be the best. My advice? Don’t rush. The company with the “overnight success” story you heard about more likely took 10 years. Take your time developing a great product. Take your time assessing that next big opportunity. It’s better to make a good decision than a quick one.

How does your business align with sustainability and ethics in the plant-based industry, and how does this alignment impact your brand’s success and customer trust?

No Evil Foods has always stood out for our commitment to sustainability in packaging. We were the first plant-based meat company in the world to become Plastic Negative Certified. This is really empowering for our consumers because they want to have a positive impact on the environment, and when they buy our products, they literally help reclaim plastic from natural ecosystems. So they’re not only lowering their impact by choosing a vegan product, they’re not only choosing to nourish their body, they’re not only deciding not to contribute to the suffering of other living animals, they are also helping to clean up the planet with every carton they buy. That’s powerful.

What certifications and regulations are essential for new plant-based brands to uphold their values as they grow?

This is going to look different for every company and is going to be very dependent on industry, growth stage, target market, sales channel, and value propositions of the individual brand. In general, today’s consumer wants to align their purchases with their values, and they expect brands to stand behind their claims. So, outside of following the basic required certifications and regulations to create a safe product, I recommend pursuing certifications that validate your claims. Certified Plant Based from the Plant Based Foods Association is a great one, as the term “plant-based” is unregulated and may be used on products containing animal-derived ingredients in some instances. If you’re making environmental claims, having certifications or LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) data is critical. And if you’re declaring anything related to allergies or sensitivities such as gluten-free, a third party certification to validate your claim breeds trust with your consumers. B-Corp Certification or becoming a legal benefit corporation is great for protecting some of the values that can get lost as a company grows.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It won’t always be like this” This has been a Post-It note on my computer monitor for years and I come back to it over and over again. I love it because it’s relevant in so many contexts. I try to remember it in times of celebration as a call to the present — enjoy this moment, savor it, because this feeling is fleeting. But I call on it equally when times are tough, as more of a “this too shall pass” reminder that everything is temporary. It won’t always be like this.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Resourcing individuals — with tools, encouragement, and real talk — to migrate to climate-friendly, plant-based diets on a global scale. I didn’t start it, but I believe in its impact wholeheartedly. Suzy Amis Cameron is already out there building a movement of dedicating one meal a day to positively impact the health of people, the planet, and entire communities.

This is what we call our “matchmaker question”, and it sometimes works. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a power lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Suzy Amis Cameron, founder of the OMD movement. I’d like to chat about how I can get more involved in the NC Pilot. I live in NC where we have the largest number of CAFOs in the country. 1 in 5 children in my state suffer from food insecurity, 80–90% receive school lunches that do not nourish the bodies or minds. Dead zones are forming on our coasts. Suzy and her organization are helping to change food systems, and I want in.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find me on LinkedIn, at, and through Consciously Planted

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at

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