Head over to your local butcher or supermarket meat counter, and you may soon find something surprising in the mix: plants. Or at least, plant-based burgers positioned right alongside steaks, chops, and roasts.
That’s the plan, according to Beyond Meat, the California-based meat alternative company that put pea protein meat alternatives on the map just a few years ago.
While the company is being somewhat hush about the launch of its new product, Beyond Meat’s executive chairman Seth Goldman, who also founded Honest Tea, told Food Navigator recently that it’s going to be a “breathtaking product,” hitting limited meat counters this spring, with plans to roll out further from there.
“If [Beyond Meat’s] Beast Burger was a plant-based burger 1.0,” Goldman said, “then the new burger is more like a 5.0.”
Positioning plant-based meats alongside animal meat has been the goal of Beyond Meat from day one. The company, now sold in more than 10,000 stores across the U.S., has been on a mission to “create mass-market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein.” And what better way to achieve that then sitting right next to the target?
Beyond Meat’s labels boast that it's products are “real meat” that just happens to be made from 100 percent plants; its products go after the meat-eater’s palate with plant-based burgers, crumbles, meatballs, and chicken strips that have fooled even the most devout carnivores.
And the company’s not alone in its mission. The brother and sister run Herbivorous Butcher recently opened its Minneapolis location to lines around the block—people hungry for plant-based meat products sold in a traditional butchershop setting, sold by weight, and always fresh.
Vegan cheese shops have caught on too, with Vromage in Los Angeles and Riverdel in Brooklyn stocked with all varieties of purely plant-based cheeses that use traditional cheesemaking methods of cultures and aging.
While the meat and dairy industries scoff at—and even sue—plant-based alternative efforts like these, consumers aren’t dissuaded. Sales of plant-based proteins have been steadily increasing in recent years, growing faster than sales of traditional animal proteins. A recent study found that more than 8 million lives would be saved by 2050 if people switched to a vegan diet.
The recent creation of The Plant Based Foods Association, which will lobby Congress for the community, aims to normalize plant proteins. For example, kids may soon have vegan meat and dairy options in schools, if the PBFA is successful.
“Every other sector of the food industry – from sugar to organics - is represented in the policy arena,” Michele Simon, executive director of The Plant Based Foods Association, said in a statement. “The time has come for the plant-based food industry to also have a collective voice.” And for Beyond Meat, space at the meat counter is warranted, too.
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Meat counter image via Shutterstock