Beyond Meat x Partnership for Healthier America
April 23, 2020
Improving human health is core to our mission at Beyond Meat. To continue advancing these efforts, we’re teaming up with Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), an organization founded alongside First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to transform our nation’s food supply for the better. PHA shares our commitment to using food as a vehicle for change, so together we will work to make nutritious food options more accessible to all.
To kick off the partnership, on Tuesday, April 28, Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown participated in the 10th annual PHA summit. This virtual event brought together some of the most prominent leaders in the food and nutrition space, including opening remarks from First Lady Michelle Obama!
Ethan Brown delivered a keynote address on the future of food and Beyond Meat’s commitment to using food as a vehicle for change. Here at Beyond Meat, we’re on a mission to perfectly build meat from plants, and are committed to providing healthier food options to all.
Following Ethan’s keynote, he was joined by Beyond Meat ambassador/investor and NBA All-Star Chris Paul for a ‘laptop-side’ chat to talk all things plant-based with PHA CEO Nancy Roman. Interested in learning more? Read on for some of the Q&A. #GoBeyond
Laptop-side chat with Beyond Meat & Chris Paul
**note: responses have been edited for brevity & clarity
PHA: Ethan, there’s been a big rush to plant-based meat. Some see it as a climate play while others see it as a health play. Talk to me about how you think of it.
Ethan Brown: I’ve never seen anything in my career where by focusing on one thing — protein in the center of the plate — it could simultaneously affect four things that are really important in the world: human health, climate, natural resources and animal welfare. I think consumers are first moved to try the product around health considerations, but then as they begin to understand that there are other implications to their food choices, they become more and more interested.
PHA: Talk to us a little about how you create a Beyond Burger. What really happens when a pea goes from a vegetable to a plant-based meat? What do you say to people who worry about ultra-processing?
EB: It’s really around a tale of two processes. In our process, we take the protein directly from the plant and run it through a system of heating, cooling and pressure to give us the fibrous structure of muscle, or meat. You can also create that muscle structure by having the animal consume all of that protein and use their digestive tract and skeletal muscular system to produce a piece of muscle. However, there are things in that muscle (heme iron, inflammatory stimulants, etc.) that you don’t necessarily want to put in your body in great quantities. The benefit of our process is we can leave all of those things out and we can create a product that’s geared toward the health of your body. That’s what we do at Beyond Meat.
PHA: Chris, so many people are fascinated by a big, strong superstar eating a plant-based diet. How did that all start?
Chris Paul: It was really tough. Being from the South I grew up eating everything. You’re somewhat a product of your environment – you know what you know because of what your parents show you or teach you. For me, I started eating a plant-based diet back in June. As an athlete you’re always trying to get better, and I’m chasing around 18 and 19 year olds on the court. As anyone does in their field to try to get better, I saw some other athletes trying a plant-based diet and thought I should give it a try. I had already started eating Beyond Meat after games and I just felt lighter. I went completely cold-turkey (or should I say cold-tofu) and the first week I saw how my body transformed. To tell you a quick story – usually when I’m training I wake up with a lot of muscle soreness. But I got up in the middle of the night and I wasn’t aching, I was feeling good. The next thing you know, I was able to go the entire summer without putting ice on my knees — and that was just because I stopped having so much inflammation in my body due to the plant-based diet.
PHA: With so many people stuck at home, do you have any tips for those of us working on a jump shot or just want to stay in shape?
CP: I have kids, so in between their schooling I may make them go outside and run a lap. And then when school is over, we try to exercise together. Because everyone’s at home now and wondering what they can do, we’re trying to stay as active as possible and also exercise our brains.
PHA: Food is a tool for health, and not everyone has access to the same good food. As your company develops, how are you approaching accessibility?
EB: When you think about economic distribution, we have to get the price of our products below animal protein. That’s something that you will see us do, we’ll get there. The reason we’re not there yet is scale, and as we achieve scale and the supply chain matures, you’ll see us be able to get very aggressive with our pricing.
PHA: We’re constantly learning more about food systems and nutrition. How are you thinking about innovation and looking ahead?
EB: We are an innovation engine at the core. We’ve designed our program to move very, very quickly. If there are folks out there taking our products off the shelf and trying to reverse engineer them, that’s okay because they’re chasing a ghost in that regard. We’ve already moved on and are working on the next generation of our product. We’re on a mission to try to provide consumers with protein that is indistinguishable from animal protein and innovation is a key part of that.
PHA: Tell me a little bit about what you see in the future for Beyond Meat.
EB: We’re going to continue to focus on our three core categories of beef, pork and poultry. Our main goal is to stay focused on how we can create that perfect piece of plant-based protein. If you can create a product with a sensory experience that’s exactly the same, nutrition exceeds that of animal protein, and it’s cheaper, very few consumers will say they still don’t want it. If we can do that, we will be able to reshape the meat industry.
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