The meat analogue industry is usually faced with one deal-breaking problem: fake meat just doesn’t taste real. That’s why in carnivorous countries like the U.S. it’s going to take a little more than just knowing about the health and environmental consequences of eating meat before people give up their beef against meat substitutes.
Beyond Meat, a vegan meat startup, is making meat that purports to taste and feel just like real meat. Their products, containing no cholesterol, no saturated fats and lots of protein, also offer a healthier option than the real deal. They even claim their plant-based proteins may soon sell for less than industrially farmed meat.
But they’re not the only ones that think they’re on to something. The innovative company has managed to pique the interest of some big-shot backers. Both entrepreneurial incubator Obvious Corporation, created by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone and former Twitter VP of Product Jason Goldman, and venture capitalist powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers have invested in the company.
"These guys are coming at the meat analogue industry not as a novelty kind of thing or hippy dippy," says Stone. "They were coming at it from this big science, super practical, scalable angle. They were saying, 'We want to get into the multi-billion-dollar meat industry with a plant-based meat.'"
The people over at Kleiner, too, were impressed with the company’s potential. "Being able to change the game in terms of how we deliver protein to the growing human population is probably the single biggest thing anybody could do," says Amol Deshpande, a partner at the firm.
At this point, Beyond Meat already ships wholesale for less than the cost of naturally raised meat. Their soy-based chicken strips can already be found in the prepared foods section at Whole Foods in Northern California and soon at other grocery stores throughout the Western U.S.
For those who crave the flavor and feel of meat but cringe at the toll your meat fix takes on the earth or your health, Beyond Meat may be the answer to your calling. For veg-folk who are turned off by the meat itself — well, Stone warns, this stuff just might taste a little too real for you.