Ethan Brown of Beyond Meat is working to create a meat analogue that looks and tastes enough like the real thing to sway even the most ardent carnivores with the help of a new research-focused location.
"There's a lot of people who have created meat analogues out of soy that loosely mimics the experience of meat," Brown said to the Los Angeles Times. "But we really want to look at this in a more fundamental way, and we want to be the first people who build a piece of meat perfectly from plants."
The brand has doubled revenues since last year, gaining not only market success with TGI Fridays, Bareburger, and BOA Steakhouse; but also, celebrity endorsements from basketball star Kyrie Irving and the writers of South Park.
Brown will not settle for imitation quality substitutes, but instead wants to make the chicken strips, ground beef, and (soon-to-be-released) sausages indistinguishable from their real meat counterparts. Brown hopes to someday reach the vegan holy grail of substitute steak and bacon.
"Then go work at Morningstar," Brown says to employees who feel comfortable settling for what he refers to as 'good enough.' "It has to be indistinguishable."
The new El Segundo location will add 26,000-square-feet of research and development space in which the companies 150 current employees and 40 prospective new hires may further push the boundaries of the product.
Beyond Meat has received investment from the likes of Bill Gates and with $72 million in funding—according to the Los Angeles Times—and a diverse portfolio of backers from Tyson to the Humane Society—Beyond Meat has begun the uphill battle against, or rather, for the 98 percent of Americans who still indulge in animal flesh. For this seemingly indomitable task, Brown has recruited biochemists and biophysicists in addition to food scientists.
"As much as we need food scientists, we realized we had to have a broader set of tools," Brown said. "Over 1,000 molecules make meat taste like meat. It's painstaking matching those molecules in plants to create the same sensory experience.”
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