As the world's population surges, meat production is expected to double by 2050—a problem given that meat production is responsible for an alarming amount of greenhouse gases. Beyond Meat's solution: fake meat good enough to tempt committed carnivores.
The company—which has attracted investment from Bill Gates, Evan Williams and Biz Stone's Obvious Corp., Kleiner Perkins, and the Humane Society—aligns soy and pea proteins so they mimic meaty texture (not perfectly, but as well as anyone has ever done before), without antibiotics, hormones, or trans fats. Its "chicken" strips and taco "beef" crumble hit the market in a big way last year, arriving on shelves at Whole Foods and groceries nationwide. The company claims to produce enough faux chicken to save 1.5 million actual birds a year. Not surprisingly, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) named Beyond Meat its company of the year last year.
As soon as 50 years from now, predicts Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown, deli counters and supermarket meat departments will be vegetarian. Maybe so. In the meantime, by beefing up distribution and its product line, Beyond Meat is focused on taking more bites out of the $177 billion animal-meat market.