When the average meat-eater hears the words "vegetarian alternative" or "meat substitute," they might conjure up images of slimy tofu and cardboard-like veggie burgers.
Beyond Meat is one company that's striving to change that perception.
“We’re taking protein from plants, and instead of running it through the industrial livestock system, we’re creating a fiber structure that is truly reminiscent of meat,” explains CEO Ethan Brown.
Motivated by a love for animals and a discomfort with how they are treated in the factory farm system, Brown set out to create a meat alternative created from plant proteins that looked and tasted just like chicken.
“It’s the beauty of that fibrous structure that is indistinguishable from meat," he says. "I’m not saying that we’re there yet, we’re probably 70 to 80 percent of the way there. But we’re definitely not going to stop until you can look at a chicken breast and looks at our product and say ‘I can’t tell the difference.’”
MAKING THE "MEAT"
When he decided to go into the faux meat business, Brown contacted some experts: two University of Missouri professors who had already been refining their chicken-like meatless protein for years. Fu-hung Hsieh and Harold Huff spent almost a decade experimenting with different temperatures and pressures to get their mixture of soybean and pea proteins as close to the look and feel of real chicken as possible.