By Lori Stultz, VO Rocky Mountain Outreach Coordinator
Known for their tasty, pea protein chicken strips, beef crumbles, and ultimate Beast Burger, the start-up vegan meat company, Beyond Meat, has done it again—they’ve gone above and beyond.
But beyond what?
Well, not only has the company developed yet another product that goes way beyond taste expectation, they’ve gone beyond the ever familiar “meat alternative” freezer section of the grocery store. That’s right—their newest product, the Beyond Burger, is going to be housed in the meat section of the grocery store!
The Beyond Burger made its debut a few weeks ago at the Whole Foods store in Boulder, Colorado. Fortunately for me and a few of my Vegan Outreach colleagues, we live in (or near) Boulder, so we had the opportunity to try it out!
I kid you not; this veggie burger is so similar to a hamburger made from cow meat—texture, color, and smell—that, as a four-year vegan, I actually had somewhat of a difficult time consuming one. As you can see from the picture above, the Beyond Burger looks just like a raw beef patty before it is cooked. And when you throw it onto a skillet or grill, the patty “bleeds,” which—have no fear—is actually just beet juice.
So you may be asking yourself, “Why would Beyond Meat want their product to be sold in the meat section of the grocery store?” Guess what! You’re in luck! I got to sit down with the founder of Beyond Meat, Ethan Brown, to get the answer to that question.
Naturally, our conversation led to me asking Ethan a few other questions about the Beyond Burger and his company. Check it out! I think you’ll like what he had to say!
Lori Stultz: Hi Ethan! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.
Ethan Brown: It is my pleasure! Thank you for doing a review of the Beyond Burger.
Lori: Let’s start out by discussing the question that is on everyone’s mind—As an ethical vegan, why did you want the Beyond Burger to be sold in the meat section of the grocery store?
Ethan: Selling the Beyond Burger in the meat section is an important, symbolic step of people being able to choose their source of protein based on its composition, versus only having the option of choosing protein sources from animals. It has always been that you have to find a protein alternative somewhere else in the store. We [Beyond Meat] want people to be able to simply go to a “protein section” of the store and have all the options right there.
Lori: That totally makes sense! What has been the shoppers’ reaction to the Beyond Burger being sold in the meat section?
Ethan: It’s been great! And I can tell you it has been really gratifying to talk to people who are in the meat section looking for protein, and after we say, “Hey! This source of protein [the Beyond Burger] is better for you because XYZ” people are making the decision to buy our product in place of animal protein products.
Lori: That’s fantastic! I can imagine your products have helped a lot of people cut back or cut out animal products from their diet. Am I right in my assumption?
Ethan: Yes, we hear from people all the time who say that the Beyond Meat products made their transition to plant-based eating much easier!
You know, there are few people who want to participate in mass cruelty and we know that because people are pulling for us. Even meat eaters! They want the opportunity to have something different, and to date there just hasn’t been alternative meat products that the majority of the mainstream population wants to consume. But with products like the Beyond Burger we are getting to the point where most people are thinking, “OK. I’ll do this!”
Lori: Why is the Beyond Burger only available in Boulder?
Ethan: Ultimately, this is all thanks to Tom Rich, who is the Senior VP of the Boulder Whole Foods store. He was willing to take the risk of putting the Beyond Burger in the meat section of the store. We told him, ‘If you’re willing to put it in the meat case, we will come here [to Boulder] and work with you exclusively. He immediately he said, “OK! Let’s do it.” And you know, it’s been doing great! They’ve been selling out almost everyday.
Lori: When will the rest of the country be able to purchase a Beyond Burger? And will these folks also have to go to the meat section of their grocery store to pick up the burger?
Ethan: The Beyond Burger will hit the market nationwide this fall. Other Whole Food stores throughout the country are very interested in selling the product and placing it in their meat sections.
The people who run this store [Boulder Whole Foods] are very innovative, and we hope to keep bringing new products back to this store. We are selling beef today, but we will be bringing in other products, like bacon, in the future.
We [Beyond Meat] have a tremendous number of very talented scientists and chefs and every year we want to put out our best product. The ethos of the company is that we don’t wait. We don’t say, “We’re going to wait seven years to release something.” I am vegan myself, and I want new products on the market!
It is not that I think we’re done and the Beyond Burger is perfect, but it is the best we can do today. We are getting closer and closer to developing sources of plant-based protein that are completely indistinguishable from animal protein. So next year we will put something out that is even better, and the next year, until we get to that point.
Lori: This is very exciting to hear! Personally, I think the Beyond Burger is going to be just as popular in other places as it is here in Boulder.
Before I wrap things up, Ethan, I want to know what your favorite vegan meal is?
Ethan: Truly, it is the Beyond Burger. I love it! And I can’t wait for other people to try it when it hits store shelves this fall.
Lori: Thank you again for chatting with me, Ethan. And thanks for all the great work you’re doing to make plant-based products an easy buy for everyone.
Consistent with the reviews of the burger thus far, my colleagues and I recommend getting out there and buying this burger the instant it hits store shelves! Feed it to all of your non-veg friends and family members and bask in their comments about how delicious it is.
With products like the Beyond Burger, meat eaters will no longer be able to say they could “never give up meat” because they “love the taste too much.” It is true that they’ll be able to have the taste they enjoy while not contributing to the suffering of innocent beings.
The best part about the debut of the Beyond Burger was not just the burger itself. The Boulder Whole Foods opened up a “trial” 100% vegan burger bar smack dab in the store. The Beyond Burger bar offers singles and doubles, and for a dollar extra you can make your Beyond Burger a Beyond Cheeseburger! Bring on Field Roast’s Chao cheese, please!
The burger joint also offers Gardein Chick’n and “Fillet Ah Fishless” sandwiches, and Chick’n tenders. Still hungry? Throw in some millet tots, sweet potato hush puppies, or french fries. Oh, and don’t forget the vanilla milkshake.
My hope is that the Beyond Burger bar in Boulder is the start of something new! Actually, I don’t hope. I know. This veggie burger is the start of a carnivore-gone-herbivore revolution.