How The Beyond Meat Burger Is Taking Over The Beef Industry


Ahh, the burger. America’s best friend. Juicy, tender, mouthwatering. Since time immemorial, it’s practically been our country’s third trademark. But all that meat comes at a cost. The U.S. processed 32.2 million cattle and calves in 2017, according to the North American Meat Institute. People love meat. I love meat. But there’s also a recognition of the challenges of meat that’s been harvested from animals, particularly in factory farming. Enter Beyond Meat. They produce burgers that look, cook and taste just like meat. But they’re not what we think of as meat. They’re made entirely out of plants. And since 2016, they’ve made their way into thousands of supermarkets, drive-throughs, restaurants, hotels and sports stadiums. You give it a thumbs up? Uh-huh. You like it? Oh, and the company’s gotten major investments from Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio, former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson and Tyson Foods. So why did this new-age burger take on the battle with beef? And will it win? At Beyond Meat’s R&D lab, food scientists, chemists and engineers are perfecting the art of the animal-free burger. We like to think of meat not in terms of its origin, say from a chicken or a cow, but in terms of its molecular composition, so the proteins, the carbohydrates, the lipids, minerals and vitamins, all of which are available, except for cholesterol, in the plant kingdom. All of the facility’s R&D lab technicians are trained meat sommeliers. My job here is to figure out what makes meat taste and behave like meat at the molecular level and then go out into the plant kingdom and identify materials that behave the same way. Beyond Meat’s burger patties end up with roughly the same amount of protein as raw beef, but significantly more sodium due to the preservation and flavoring processes. It’s also worth noting that they still have 20 grams of fat, almost on par with beef. The main ingredients in Beyond Meat’s latest burger are peas, rice and mung beans for protein, beets for color and potato starch and coconut oil for juiciness. But what about the blood? Don’t worry, it’s beet juice. Ready? Yep. Beyond Meat is the brainchild of Ethan Brown, a once-carnivore turned vegan who grew up around his family’s farm in western Maryland. I spent a lot of time there, we had dairy cattle there. And so I was very close to animals growing up, loved them, and I was fascinated by them. Passionate about the environment, Brown pursued a career in clean energy. But I began to realize that livestock had a larger contribution to climate than many of the things that I was working on in terms of the emissions. 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, and of that, one-third comes from methane emitted from cow digestion. So in 2009, Brown began working on a healthier, more humane burger. The question, “Why are you trying to build a piece of meat from plants? Why not just encourage people to eat plants directly?” A burger is something people love, and so we went after that core part of the American diet. Veggie burgers are nothing new. They’ve been around since 1982. Previous generations of veggie burgers generally were pre-formed burger patties that were already cooked that you essentially reheated, and they generally had a sort of dry or rubberier texture. And I think that was one of the sort of major steps in the evolution was realizing that people who eat plant-based meat or people who eat veggie burgers, they’re not all super health-conscious all the time, like, they like the feeling of biting into a juicy burger. They like the feeling of biting into a juicy meatball. So why can’t we give that to them? Today, Beyond Meat is booming. and it filed for a $100 million IPO in November of 2018. Sources tell CNBC that the plant-based food company has hired JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse to help lead the public offering. You can find the company’s products everywhere, from grocery stores like Whole Foods and Safeway to fast-food chains like Carl’s Jr. and A&W. The interesting thing about our sales is we cannot make enough product. So we are investing very rapidly and very significantly. It’s so meaty, it’s almost kind of freaky. And the customers aren’t just vegans and vegetarians, they’re also carnivores. Today the company also offers chicken strips, sausages, beef crumbles and has more items in development. We want to make bacon, we want to make steak, we want to make the most intricate and beautiful pieces of meat. U.S. retail sales of plant-based meats grew by 24 percent in 2018. Animal meats grew by just 2 percent. But Beyond Meat’s got some competition. Its biggest competitor? Impossible Foods. Backstage, they said they grilled like meat, they smell… It smells fantastic, Joe. Also based in California and also producing a variety of plant-based products. Their burgers are offered in more than 5,000 restaurants and chains including White Castle, Applebee’s and Momofuku. The company hasn’t yet made it into grocery stores, but plans to this year. Another big competitor is lab-grown or clean meat, which is animal meat grown in a lab by replicating animal cells in a petri dish. The lab-grown meat industry is currently getting backing from Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Cargill. But Brown’s biggest competitor? Really are in the meat industry itself. So good. I’m not vegan, but this is actually really good. I think we have reached one of two important tipping points as far as adoption of plant-based meat and that is the quality of the product. It’s not 100 percent there but it’s 99 percent of the way there, and I think the next hurdle is going to be price. Price has reduced drastically over the last few years, but I think it’s still on the higher end. As for Brown, he’s hopeful for the future. Someday I think plant-based meat will overtake animal protein as the main source of meat, but I can’t predict when. I do believe it will happen in my lifetime. Let’s hope so. Bring on the plant-based bacon.

100 thoughts on “How The Beyond Meat Burger Is Taking Over The Beef Industry

  1. Haven't seen any sign of them in Australia, but given the variety of meat substitutes Coles stock, I'm not sure if it matters.

  2. NEVER HAPPEN! Why would anyone pay beef prices for a VEGGIE BURGER? If the veggie burger had a realistic price to reflect the fast cheap cost of growing and shipping compared to the beef industry that takes YEARS to grow a full size cow and send it to the processing plant (slaughter house) I MIGHT try one. BUT I have tried them before when the farmers tried to introduce them in the 70's and 80's to the vegan cult (lots of people back then were gullible to all sorts of fads) and they ALL were worthless compared to a real beef burger that we all grew up on. If the cost were reflective to the marketing process then the vegan burgers should be at least half the cost of the true and honest beef burger. If I didn't want a real burger I could always season and eat the bag, napkins, and wrapper.

  3. So what are we supposed to do with those domesticate meat-animals when we stop using them for meat? Turn them loose in the street like they do in India?

  4. I cooked a Beyond Meat sausage. I followed the directions. It was moist enough and the flavor itself was ok- but the texture was wrong. It was wrong enough to never buy it again.

  5. The Beyond Meat Burger and the Impossible Burger are very similar to a real hamburger. They don't quite have the beefy, char-grilled aftertaste of a real hamburger, but the texture is almost identical to real beef. The fake beef is chewy like real beef. It doesn't taste like something made from vegetables. I think people would order a hamburger like this because of their own opinions about eating beef, or because they want to consume less cholesterol.

  6. Lol. For all those people that have and still deny the truth about meat and the entire animal agriculture industry, this is more proof that your brutal industry is dying.
    Even Tyson is investing in vegan startups.
    But I don't expect the mostly clueless population to open their minds. They'll all become vegan and plant based when the big corporations tell them to.

  7. If the pasture used for grazing, as well as other farm land used for grass/hay, as well as the farm land used to feed the farmers were converted to forest, those trees would require almost 33% more water than the current use, and much much more than being fallow.

    As is typical w/ these alarmist fake-news stories, they cherry-pick facts, then promulgate them as a "oh noes, we gon' die" doomsday event – except when you do your own research, it turns out absolutely nothing these liberal blowhards mention is actually the way they claim, and more often the not, the exact opposite is true.

    Carbon Dioxide is a plant food, and doesn't affect the "environment" all that much, except that plants have more to eat.

    I rate this story 4 Pinocchios.

  8. YUP! WAY WAY TOO MUCH WATER WASTE FOR TODAY! BUT … so is that crap people are drinking: coconut water, almond milk, etc and the individually serve size of ONE of plain ol' water! A. It takes anywhere from 40 to 120 GALLONS of water to make one gallon of that water substitute! So, go one and just drink water! B. STOP polluting with plastic!!! Use your own container, from HOME! The bottles in the store? Almost ALL of them come from CITY water supplies!! SomeCity, USA!

  9. Unfortunately, this is a highly proceed food containing large amounts of canola oils, and pea proteins, all of which have been proven to be inflammatory. It does not reproduce the nutritional content of a good grass-fed organic burger.

  10. To make this product cheap they have to use cheap ingredients like GMO soy, GMO rice, low quality vegetable oils and add additives for long shell life.

  11. The burgers smell when you cooking them. Smells of artificial things. I'm a professional chef and every time I try cooking one I cringe from the smell of these.

  12. It makes sense that they would be able to use plants to create a beef taste considering cows eat plants. You are what you eat as they say.

  13. I had one of these is what I imagine soylent green would taste like. It was very off putting and made my stomach hurt.

  14. I cooked some beyond meat ground beef and it was very good. A little dry, but I think that can be fixed by adjusting the cooking method. Overall I look forward to the day, when we don't inflict suffering on other sentient beings to fulfil our nutrition needs – and in the process reduce pollution on the earth.

  15. Funny how the two largest manufacturing plants "Beyond Meat " and "Impossible foods" are located literally opposite and less than 100 meters from ABORTION CLINICS . One … coincidence maybe ….but the two biggest manufacturers … hmm I'm not chancing it . Enjoy your Soylent Green .

  16. Lmao, I'll still eat real meat. Imagine having underdeveloped tastebuds that you can't even tell the difference between the two.

  17. No fake meat so unhealthy and not real America needs to eat more meat and dairy low card this will be the end of us I feel very sad for the next generation

  18. How is it…we are being hearded away from SWEAR TO GOD MEAT !!!!…what happens when we cant buy rotisserie chicken…..??? Liberals have reduced the fat in meat…now this…

  19. I’m for good old fashioned moo cow beef. Grass fed, humanely raised. Used to be if someone tried to sell you “fake” anything there’d be an uprising. Now we’re trying to see who can make the most authentic fake meat and the winner gets Gates money. Yeah, that’s the same guy trying to cut the human population down to the Georgia Guidestone level. 500,000,000 do the math. Most of us will be toast if he gets his way. Wouldn’t try anything he or Hollywood is promoting.

  20. This new " meat' has coconut oil in it. That alone raises the bad cholesterol in our bodies…people need to do more research on this. Your setting yourself up for heart disease, stroke…. Be careful …we should not be consuming coconut oil .. it's bad for our bodies..

  21. Despite all the buzz, I have never seen any product from Beyond Meat in any market or restaurant. However, I just tried the Impossible Burger from Burger King and it was great. That seems like the better strategy – what Impossible Foods is doing. I'm not impressed with Beyond Meat as a company, and their stock is grotesquely over-valued. Impossible Foods is still a private company – looking forward to them going public. Also, Beyond is not doing rocket science here with beet juice. But Impossible might be doing rocket science with HEME — https://youtu.be/n6U4H8WC9jg

  22. Beyond meat is ok if you eat a burger but trying to use it for anything else is gross IMO. It has this fake smoky taste which is absolutely overpowering in amy other dish where you might use ground beef. I have tried it in pasta sauce and dirty rice. Texturally its SUPER close to beef but that fake smokiness is so freakin nasty.

  23. Hey, you never know until you try it yourself. See how you feel after eating one. Compared to how you feel after eating a real burger. Maybe that might be the difference that has some kind of importance for yourself. Next time I drive by the a&w, I will try it. Just to see for myself.

  24. Gross, sorry I don’t want all those flavoring additives and dyes that is “perfected” in a lab. Humans are the smartest yet stupidest things on the planet. All this because some ppl want to scream and yell about animal rights who have taken a reputable idea into a circus side show backed by Hollywood and every new age liberal on the planet.

    I love meat, steak, chicken, lamb, bacon etc. i also love animals but I don’t think about where my food comes from and I trust that government does hold slaughtering plants accountable to humane preparation.

  25. Great! Fake beef! Now what do we do with all the cattle? Turn them loose and turn into India? Where do you get all the leather products from now? If we shouldn't eat them or milk them what do we do with them? They would be GODs greatest failure! Cant fix STUPID!!

  26. Btw vegans emit more flatulent then others. And what about the population's growth in china India and africa by 2050 will be doubled. Wow the flatulents. How do we compare to the outputs of cows. I personally know a few that can put a cow to shame lol

  27. Wait… have I never eaten cow meat in burgers accept for steaks? I think mcdonald has changed to it right? That's why steak taste so weird.

  28. I can care less about pigs and cows also chickens. But also long as it looks feels and tatse just like a burger. Das all right
    But just know. This will kick you in the face

  29. So Al Gore pushes the narrative cows are contributing on a large scale to global warming and now he and many other investors stand to make millions if not billions because of the false narratives pushed by CNN and other Fake News Agencies

  30. Del Taco uses the Beyond burger for their meatless tacos. While I like almost everything else on their menu, the Beyond stuff is a complete loser, IMO. They cook it up and pour it into the taco. It has the consistency of chili or very runny taco filling. It may be better more solid, but I'll never know.

    It was an enormous disappointment & I'll not order it again. Another negative side effect was excess intestinal gas. OTOH, the Impossible burger is solid and indistinguishable from real meat – a bonus, too, is that it doesn't have any gristle or chewy stuff left stuck between your teeth after a meal.

  31. This is why I’m vege. It’s not even mainly because of the animals suffering, its the water needed to make a bit of beef

  32. Vegans are pretty heathy with their diets, so I doubt that they’re going to be buying this a lot… Most meat eaters only bought it to try and most likely already have too much sodium in their bodies so they probably should have more xD This is literally just a really good veggie burger with the nutrients you need in it… Saying that, I do have one in my fridge that I bring out to eat when I don’t want to have beans or eggs for protein

  33. People can hate all they want. But they cannot deny the vision and the revolution. It's amazing. So grateful for such a thoughtful company in food industry 🙏💚

  34. I have nothing against the product itself but i believe that the marketing is guilt based and feeds on uninformed customers. the pesticides used to grow the ingredients for "beyound meat" are in my opinion just as or even more harmful to the environment as eating conventional animal products.

    Also "Beyond Burger" is made of isolated pea protein, modified food starch, bamboo cellulose, methylcellulose, maltodextrin, vegetable glycerin,and various other unhealthy ingredients!

    I actually prefer a organic falafel sandwhich and occasionally some organic pasture raised beef over that any day!
    There is easily enough land to feed the US with sustainable pesticide free farming and its not more expensive than thoses new meat substitutes

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