In an interview, Mine Uran, co-founder and CEO of Alver, explains why she is passionate about algae and which aspects of nutrition are particularly important to her.
Passionate expert and visionary entrepreneur – Mine, are you the Steve Jobs of the algae world?
I would rather call myself an ambassador for the algae diet. Microalgae can make valuable contributions to solving serious global problems. I am convinced that eating seaweed is good for people and this planet. That is why we at Alver not only talk about our products, but also promote a new perception of these foods.
What is wrong with the current image that we have of algae?
Most people think of green carpets of plants on the sea or a pond covered with green when they hear the word algae. Many cannot imagine these living beings as food. After all, some of them know algae from Japanese cuisine. However, microalgae like the golden chlorella that we use in our products belong to a different family. These are unicellular or multicellular algae, which are among the oldest living organisms in the world. Since they have numerous nutrients and vitamins and are largely tasteless, they are ideal for human consumption. We want to clarify this.
Why are you fascinated by algae of all things?
For over 20 years I have been looking for suitable alternatives to animal protein. In doing so, I first looked at the obvious research objects such as protein-rich peas and soybeans. But then at some point I realized that growing these plants also consumed large areas of agricultural land and a lot of water. And then I came across seaweed.
What is so special about that?
Microalgae thrive in the water so that valuable green spaces are not used up. The cultivation and use of microalgae use around 40 times less CO2 than is required for meat production. In contrast to other vegetable proteins (20 kg CO2), the CO2 consumption of microalgae is significantly lower at just 1.3 kg. Microalgae only use the power of the sun to grow. And what’s more, they’re extremely high in protein, more than twice as much as the same amount of beef. High yield with minimal use of resources – that is extremely efficient and sustainable. That’s why I’m so excited about algae.
Was that the reason you started Alver?
Yes. Alver has a clear mission: algae power for everyone! We want to improve our customers’ daily food preparation through this unique source of vegetable protein. As many people as possible should benefit from the advantages of a diet with microalgae – this also benefits the environment. I also believe that with our nutrition concept we can make a contribution to securing the food supply for a continuously growing world population. If we try to do that with more and more steaks, the planet will perish.
These are ambitious goals, and the time to make effective changes in the way we live is becoming increasingly scarce. How do you assess the further development? I am optimistic. I have a lot of confidence in the committed youth and have no doubt that we will get a grip on the problems caused by the pollution of our environment. This can already be seen in the conscious handling of one’s own diet. More and more people are committed to avoiding animal products and at the same time are looking for suitable vegetable sources of protein. We are pleased to be able to support this trend towards sustainable eating behavior. From my point of view, this development cannot be stopped.