But first, let’s take a look at a quick clip from the popular NBC comedy, PARKS & REC to adequately gauge the fairly typical American response to the staple American diet (semi-kidding) – the beef hamburger (sorry, embedding is disabled on the video):
Rob Lowe’s not kidding anyone – burger alternatives often fall extremely short of their generally inexpensive and insanely popular forefather, the beef hamburger. CARL’S JR, for example, unveiled an all natural burger campaign near the end of 2014, having tested it in Los Angeles the previous year and has seen quite a bit of success – and this isn’t necessarily a good or a bad thing (more of a sidestep when considering that “grass-fed beef generates significantly more methane and has nearly twice the carbon footprint of its grain-fed kin”) as much as it’s a sidestep that indicates that even the burger crowd has its share of slightly more health/ethical conscious eaters that are open to changes. By the same token, these “health” signs are indicators of several other things, from what the new buzz words are in the food marketing world (see: gluten-free on everything), to PR stunts by food companies, to straightforward shortcuts by consumers half-heartedly attempting to clean up their diets by eating the slightly healthier burger (if such a thing really exists in this context). Well, it looks like one Missouri company may be changing the game for everyone soon enough: Beyond Meat.
What are Beyond Meat burgers made of? “Meat. Meat from plants. Because what is meat but a tasty, tooth hunk of protein? Do we really need animals to assemble it for us?” Rowan Jacobson of outsideonline.com goes on to describe that not only are their plant burgers delicious (after explaining his rather recent foray into a meat-free existence), but they’re far more environmentally friendly:
“Livestock…are horribly inefficient at making meat. Only about 3 percent of the plant matter that goes into a steer winds up as muscle. The rest gets burned for energy, ejected as methane, blown off as excess heat, shot out the back of the beast, or repurposed into non-meat-like things such as blood, bone, and brains. The process buries river systems in manure and requires an absurd amount of land. Roughly three-fifths of all farmland is used to grow beef, although it accounts for just 5 percent of our protein…global protein consumption is expected to double by 2050.”
Beyond Meat isn’t just speculation at this point – attracting investors like Twitter cofounder Biz Stone and Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, with products sold in over 6000 stores (including Safeway). We may be on our way to a large-scale, publicly-embraced meat alternative, so much so that Jacobson asserts that “our grandchildren will look back on our practice of using cages animals to assemble proteins with the same incredulousness that we apply to our ancestors’ habit of slaughtering whales to light their homes.”
Image source: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/08/05/article-2385137-1B28506E000005DC-369_638x429.jpg