High profile funding of plant-based meats may be a sign of the times: eating vegan just isn’t as radical anymore as Tyson hopes you think it is!
Bill Gates: Radical Vegan Activist, or Savvy Capitalist Dude Who Sees Which Way the Trends are Blowing?
Microsoft mogul Bill Gates didn’t earn his fame and fortune through radical vegan activism — but he’s putting his money where your mouth is, to fund some potentially revolutionary vegan products. And based on recent headlines, that investment looks inspired.
Last month a Gates-funded vegan egg hit the market; he’s also funding expansion and development of Beyond Meat, a company making recent headlines for developing the most chickenlike vegan chicken ever known to people who don’t eat chickens.
Beyond Meat: It’s What’s for Dinner (Whether or Not You’re Vegan)
According to a recent CNN Fortune article titled The Bill Gates Backed Company That’s Reinventing Meat, they’re not just marketing Beyond Meat products to folks who already avoid animal products:
… Beyond Meat is aiming at health-conscious consumers. Its chicken-free strips have fewer calories than chicken and are cholesterol-free, hormone-free, and antibiotic free. “It’s the cleanest delivery of fuel you can get,” [founder and chief executive Ethan Brown] says. On its package, Beyond Meat also says that it is dedicated to “positively impacting climate change, conserving natural resources, and respecting animal welfare.”
Brown hopes to sell Beyond Meat products right alongside flesh-based chops, cutlets, and strips — marketing them to confirmed carnivores, not to just us ‘radical’ non-eaters-of-animals.
As quoted in a Huffington Post article last month titled Beyond Meat CEO Says Meat Counters Will One Day Go Vegetarian:
“If we’re successful, we can be like Tyson or Perdue,” Ethan Brown, CEO of Beyond Meat, a San Francisco-based company that makes fake meat from plant protein, told the audience at Wired’s Business Conference in New York this week. Brown also said he believes that in 50 to 100 years, the meat counter and meat will no longer have a relationship with animals, GigaOm reported.
So far Beyond Meat products have only been available at specialty markets such as Whole Foods, but they’re gearing up for broader availability. Watch this space!
The Foodie Times, They Are A-Changin’
Despite heavy-duty denialism from entrenched animal marketers, there’s a growing awareness (even among Americans NOT bent on vegan world takeover) that our meat-soaked food culture is a disaster in progress. Beyond Meat hopes to meet the growing demand for plant-based vs. animal-based foods, even — and this is the part that probably secured Gates’ investment, as well as frightened and annoyed chicken flesh sellers — among non-vegan consumers.
U.S meat consumption peaked in 2007. Study after study links plant-based foods to improved health and increased longevity, and meat consumption to disease, debility, and death — so much so that health giant Kaiser recently directed its physicians to recommend plant-based diets. ‘Factory farming’ — the system on which our current food culture depends — has entered the realm of common discourse, and everyone knows it’s a problem. Ag-gag laws and their bungled attempts to stuff that genie back in its feces-contaminated antibiotic-resistant planet devastating cruelty-ridden lamp have only increased public awareness of the problem.
Lab meat is all the rage, among foodie scientists. Mainstream fast food and casual-dining restaurants recognize the shifting public demand for plant-based foods, and continually expand vegan and vegetarian options — including Tropical Smoothie’s new menu items featuring Beyond Meat chicken-free strips.
Supply and Demand: It’s Magical, and Gates Knows It
I hate to tell you, meat industry guys — well, ok, I don’t actually! — with high-profile backers like Gates working towards a more sustainable and less slaughter-driven food culture, your Vegan Problem is likely to just keep getting worse — even among omnivores.
Good work, Gates: we haven’t always agreed, but this time I think you’re on to something grand!
Image credit: Creative Commons vegan chicken photo by SweetOnVeg.