An Interview with Beyond Meat Founder Ethan Brown

Written by Erica Meier

Ethan-holding-chicken-220x251.jpgImagine the possibilities if there were a plant-based product available that was so similar in texture and taste to chicken that consumers couldn’t tell the difference. Now imagine that this meat-free product also cost less than meat. That’s exactly what Ethan Brown, founder of Beyond Meat, aims to do – and his company is making national headlines across the U.S. as its products are hitting stores from coast to coast.

Q: What makes Beyond Meat different from other plant-based meats available today?

A: As a company, we are obsessed with perfectly replicating the sensory experience of animal protein. We are not all the way there, but we are getting closer. Our goal is to provide the consumer with an absolutely seamless replacement for animal protein in their favorite dishes. No trade-off, only nutritional upside;and the good news is that we are just getting started.

Q: What were the biggest challenges you discovered in the process of developing a meat-free chicken? 

A: We are in pursuit of flexitarians, those consumers who are actively avoiding animal protein for a meal or two a week. For the core of this market, getting 80-90 percent of the way there in terms of texture and sensory experience is nearly nowhere at all. So, for me, the biggest challenge comes in chasing that perfect consumer experience where there is no difference between a substitute and real meat. We aren’t quite there yet, but we are getting closer and closer.

Q: Where can people find Beyond Meat?

A: Our Chicken-Free Strips will be in all Whole Foods stores in the Prepared Foods (deli) section of the store by the beginning of 2013.  For the up-to-date list of restaurants and other markets check our store locator at: BeyondMeat.com

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Note: This is an excerpt — the full interview can be found in COK’s winter 2012 Compassionate Action member magazine. Not yet a member? Join today!