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Summary:

Can a Valley-backed startup help usher in a transition to plant-based proteins dominating the meat counter?

Beyond  Meat

The CEO of plant protein startup Beyond Meat, Ethan Brown, believes that in 50 to 100 years, the supermarket meat counter will no longer have a relationship with animals. The transition to a meat counter filled with plant protein will be similar to how society moved from the horse-drawn carriage to the automobile, said Brown at Wired’s Business Conference in New York on Tuesday.

Beyond MeatBeyond Meat makes plant-based meats and is currently selling a chicken product at select stores like Whole Foods. The product hasn’t been widely available, but is supposed to be scaled up at stores in the coming months. Beyond Meat has a partnership with Whole Foods, and the startup is looking to sell its products out of the meat counter instead of in an alternative meat section, which Brown described as “a penalty box.”

In contrast to the current fake meat products on supermarket shelves, Beyond Meat is trying to use technology to create food that mimics the taste and feel of eating meat. We’ve got “OCD; obsessive chicken disorder,” joked Brown, explaining the company is looking to replicate “the fibrous structure of meat.”

The company is backed by Kleiner Perkins and Obvious Corp, the company behind Twitter. As I wrote in this article earlier this year, Silicon Valley investors have been looking to fund sustainable food innovation. Brown said that Beyond Meat grew 50 percent last quarter. “If we’re successful, we can be like Tyson or Perdue,” said Brown.

Beyond Meat

The animal meat market is a $177 billion market, said Brown. While Beyond Meat is focused on selling its chicken product, it’s also working on a beef product made from pea protein and sea salt.

The World Bank says that livestock contributed to 51 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions globally. “The efficiencies around taking protein from plants instead of animals is massive,” said Brown.

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  1. Mmm, yeah, because we all want our food to be engineered. Humans are omnivores. We have gotten to where we are because of who and what we are, and a large part of that is owed to the carnivorous side of our diet. I will do my part to ensure that my children and, God willing, grand children grow up with a healthy respect for this sentiment and the importance of all natural/organic meats as part of their diet.

    1. If the chicken you eat is “natural/organic”, you must be raising your own from eggs. Just about any chicken you buy in the stores or restaurants has been either hopped up on steroids or processed beyond recognition. Unless you think chickens naturally come in ‘nugget’ form.

      1. Or they could be buying their meat from a farmers market or CSA

    2. Apparently, someone forgot to tell you that, as omnivores, we can subsist complete on vegetables. If there is a god, he surely doesn’t want you torturing animals for the sake of your taste buds. I don’t care how much respect you pretend you’re giving them. True respect requires not butchering someone.

    3. I would rather my children and grand children grow up with a healthy respect for all life and choose not to kill to eat. Not all humans are omnivores. And just who and what ARE we really? Look around, the cruelty, the wars, the murders, the bullying, the greed etc… Yes, maybe it is due to the carnivorous side of “our” diet. I guess you are right. lol.

      But I do agree, we should take care with engineered food.

  2. danielmalvarado Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    It’s not engineered — it’s a soy and pea protein recipe with spices. The billions of innocent sentient animals that are murdered each year, fed genetically modified foods, chemically synthesized hormones and antibiotics — they are the ones that are engineered.

  3. Steven Patrick Morrissey Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    first of all, KFC’s “animal 54″ which – according to urban legend – is their chicken breeding experiment which removes the beak gene and adds an extra breast gene, deserves to be in the meat section more than this. I might be boking up the wrong tree but the only diff the average consumer sees between this and other fake meats is that this is gluten free. they should embrace that because nobody looking for real chicken would buy that – in other words enjoy they should feel clucky to be in free range penalty box. no matter what this will ALWAYS be closer to other fake meats than real meat. Unlike the 3 breasted no beak deliciousness sold at KFC… I can wait until all of their chickens are born completely bone free.

  4. Kameliya Vladimirova Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    First, we need to agree that Beyond Meat (BM) products are not meat. Meat is a product that comes from animals, so if a product is made from plant extracts like soy protein or pea protein, it should not be called meat. Let’s call the product “protein derivative” for this discussion.

    Second, we need to outline what value Beyond Meat products create for people and understand whether these “protein derivative” products” are good for people’s health.

    By claiming that BM “protein derivative” products” should be sold in the meat section, BM’s CEO Ethan Brown is making 2 misleading statements:
    1. He is creating the perception that BM’s products have all the good quality of meat for people’s health without any of the negatives- animals are treated badly and pollute the environment.
    2. He promotes the dillusion that People need to eat a lot of Protein. The reality is that to be healthy people need a well-balanced diet of real whole foods including folate (leafy greens), wide-range of vitamins in the A, B, C, D, E, F, K groups (all vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc), variety of enzymes, anti-oxydants, etc. that can be found only in real whole foods.
    Beyond Meat continues the health-destructive trend that people should eat a lot of meat or protein-rich products because they need a lot of protein. The dillusion about eating a lot of protein was created by the meat industry in the 70s and the 80s to find a market for the cheap low-quality meat that they were producing with the GMO low-quality cheap corn that the government-subsidized farmers were delivering.

    I agree that the industrialization of agriculture has led to dismal conditions for animals and very low-quality meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables that are full with antibiotics, pesticides, and toxic chemicals detrimental to people’s health.

    For a food product to be good for people’s health, it needs to be nutritious for the body and easy for the body to process as whole foods that contain wide-range of enzymes and vitamins as created by nature. There is enormous amount of scientific evidence that proves that the only food products good for people’s health are the real whole foods that come from nature- fruits, vegetables, meat, etc. that are organic and not treated with toxic chemicals.

    Beyond Meat products are not real whole foods- they are processed foods equally bad for health as all other processed products on the market today.

    1. You make some really great points. I feel the need to point out that “processed” is an extremely vague term and has no actually bearing on the health value of food. I process a lot of food at my house. I blend and cook and cut. I think processed is a word that needs to go away.

  5. Mark McAndrew Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    I’d buy it because I’m a meat-eater who hates veg, yet who wants to eat less meat.

    I already use Quorn mince in pasta sauces. Way less fat, no teeth-bouncing bits of gristle – and cheaper too. Add a couple of beef stock cubes, you can hardly tell.

    (Sorry veggies. At least I’m using less cow than before.)

  6. GreatAmericanVegan Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    I’m a vegan, and I’ve used this product. It’s surprisingly realistic. I will buy it again! For those of us who make our food choices on an ethical basis in an effort to reduce the suffering of animals and our impact on the world, Beyond Meat is a great option. It is critical to begin developing more sustainable ways to provide food to our society. If Beyond Meat can contribute in a positive way to that goal, more power to them.

  7. I’d hate to buy it from a meat counter – transfer of meat disease is too easy.

  8. Simply the best mock meat on the market – nothing else compares to it! In May 2013, Tropical Smoothie debuted Beyond Meat in a trial run and was offered as a substitution at no extra cost on any flatbread, wrap or salad. In July 2013, Tropical Smoothie announced that it will be permanently adding Beyond Meat to its menu in August or September. This is awesome news and definitely a major milestone in the eyes of the health conscious and compassionate community. http://nrn.com/food-trends/tropical-smoothie-caf-add-meatless-protein-permanent-menu

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