If it looks, cooks, and tastes like a burger, then why shouldn’t a plant-based beef alternative be sold alongside real meat? Especially if it “bleeds” (beet juice). That’s the argument that Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown successfully made to Whole Foods after releasing his company’s ready-to-cook Beyond Burger last spring, a radical leap forward for mainstreaming more sustainable alternatives to animal farming. “The consumer needs to be able to make the decision about plant versus animal [protein] in the meat case itself,” Brown says.
The Beyond Burger, now sold at Whole Foods nationwide, is the company’s fourth new meat alternative in as many years. That’s a remarkable pace given the R&D such products require. Brown’s mandate to his chef and science teams: Be first to market and then refine the products—or launch new ones—as the science evolves. It’s an approach that has attracted investors from the Humane Society to (real) meat producer Tyson Foods. “[We want] to change the system from within,” Brown explains, “rather than throw rocks at it.”
This article is part of our coverage of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2017.