Washington Goes ‘Beyond’ the Aisle With Vegan Burger Tasting for Congress

Washington Goes 'Beyond' the Aisle with Vegan Burger Tasting
image via Susan Prolman/Good Food Institute

Members of Congress and their staffers were treated to a reprieve from the usual Washington baloney last Friday – both figuratively and literally – as the Good Food Institute, the nation’s leading nonprofit focused on a sustainable food supply, and Beyond Meat, the brand best known for its pea-protein-based Beyond Burger, hosted a Capitol Hill tasting event of the epic burger so meaty it’s sold in the meat department at Whole Foods Market.

With more than 150 guests including Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-PA), and Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the event drew members of Congress and senior staff members from both sides of the aisle. And they weren’t just there for the free lunch – the event was centered around a discussion over the importance of more support for plant-based foods in Washington, specifically proteins that come from plants, like Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger, which looks, tastes, and cooks like animal protein.

Plant-based meat and other foods (like nondairy milk, yogurt, and cheese) represent significant opportunities for the climate, our health, and our nation’s economic growth. According to the Good Food Institute, by 2054, as much as one-third of the entire protein market will be plant-based, and it’s already creating jobs. By 2022, the meat-alternative market will be valued at nearly $6 billion, create more than 60,000 jobs, and contribute more than $6 billion to the GDP. “Clean” meat, which generally refers to lab-grown synbio meats like those manufactured by Northern California-based Memphis Meats, can use 99 percent less land than animal-based meat, create 96 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and use 96 percent less water than livestock agriculture.

“This event was a wonderful opportunity to introduce Members of Congress to the plant-based meat industry, which is right on the cusp of a market revolution,” Joanna Grossman, a GFI policy specialist, said in a statement. “By supporting such business innovation, policymakers have the power to build a healthy, humane, and sustainable food system that, increasingly, also happens to be aligned with consumer demand.”

Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown, and Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute, spoke to the guests – some of whom had never eaten a veggie burger before – about the changing protein industry and the prospects it presents for America.

“[It’s] incredible that there is now a solution to such global problems as food security and environmental protection that is directly in line with business growth and consumer demand,” says Emily Byrd, Senior Communications Specialist at GFI. “We think it’s critical that policymakers are aware of this game-changing opportunity to support positive innovation that unites people from every political perspective.”

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.