Beyond Meat, which is being rolled out nationally this fall, aims to be better for you and, eventually, cheaper than real chicken. “If our product is higher quality than meat at a much lower cost, imagine how much can we disrupt the market,” Brown says. It’s delivered in boxes of rough-edged, rectangular, chicken-free strips that are made from soy protein isolate, pea protein isolate, and amaranth, with plant-derived chicken flavoring by Givaudan (GVDNY), the world’s largest manufacturer of fragrances. Beyond Meat has been precisely engineered to look like chicken, taste like chicken, and especially to feel like chicken when you take a bite. “We are obsessed,” Brown says. “We call it OCD. Obsessive Chicken Disorder. It has to be exactly like chicken.”
Great article on the company Beyond Meat with lots of tidbits on global meat demand, how processed foods are made, and where the market is (or will be) for fake meat. The article, and the company, revolves around the statement that raising animals to convert feed into protein is completely inefficient, “a bioreactor raised for the purpose of delivering protein to humans” (Amol Deshpande of Kleiner Perkins venture capital). Additionally, the article notes that vegetarians/vegans are only 4% of the US population, which means the company needs to make a product that satisfies the meat eaters as well.
I love the fact that ethical food companies are being funded by such big names. However, I have beef, so to speak, with one of their claims. The aim of Beyond Meat is to produce a protein product that is healthier and cheaper than meat. They describe their processing as the simple conversion of dry and wet ingredients into a product using an extruder (something that mixes, heats, shapes, and cuts food) with less feed than it takes to produce a chicken. The problem is everything implies that their feed is plant protein isolate, whereas I doubt chickens are fed protein isolate as their feed stock. The article even states “It takes four-tenths of a pound of feed, mostly soy and pea protein, to make a pound of Beyond Meat” (which matches the 60% water composition of chicken) but it ignores the processing that went into isolating the soy and pea protein.
It may well still be true that Beyond Meat is more energy and resource efficient than raising chickens, but I wish they were more rigorous about it. It would be great if they published a comparative life cycle assessment. Either way, I’m interested to get to try them for myself. It’s fooled some meat eaters already, but the Huffington Post wasn’t too impressed, citing the uncanny valley of being just too close to the real thing.