Plant-based burgers are vying to topple the beef burger from its throne, transforming the beef industry and the way we eat in the process.
The average American eats nearly 60 pounds of beef (27 kg) a year — roughly equal to a couple of hundred burgers. But for how much longer will the beef burger remain king?
A new generation of burgers made with, “plant meat” is vying to topple the beef burger from its throne, transforming the beef industry and the way we eat in the process. One industry pioneer foresees a not-too-distant future where we get the bulk, if not all, of our protein from plants, not animals.
“Our mission is very simple,” says Dr. Pat Brown, a physician and former biochemist who founded Impossible Foods in 2011.”It’s to completely replace animals as a food technology by 2035.”
Brown is firmly committed to eliminating animal meat from our diets. His vision isn’t too far fetched. A recent report from consultants A.T. Kearney predicted that by 2040 most of our meat won’t come from slaughtered animals,with plant-based and lab-grown alternatives taking up the slack.
“People are not wedded to the idea that meat has to come from animals. They’re very wired (to) the idea that they got to have meat,” Brown says.
The beef with beef – especially factory farming – is partly because research shows it’s severely damaging to the environment. According to the United Nations, beef alone is responsible for 41% of livestock greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane and nitrous oxide. Those livestock emissions make up 14.5% of total global emissions.
“We have to solve this protein issue, if we’re going to have a sustainable planet, if we’re going to have a healthy population,” says Beyond’s Brown.
Brown’s Impossible Foods, along with rival Beyond Meat, are two companies at the forefront of the plant meat revolution. Their signature products, the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger, made with soy and pea protein respectively, are marketed as being more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Their mimicry of the beef burger includes making their patties “bleed” like beef burgers. Beyond uses beet juice to achieve that effect and Impossible uses the additive heme.
Beyond’s Brown says that he believes consumers will accept that meat can come from sources other than animals.