Biz Stone is a long-time vegan, and has helped Farm Sanctuary encourage people to save animals, not eat them. Now, he and his Twitter co-founder Evan Williams are backing Beyond Meat, a company that makes vegan meat subsitutes.
According to Co.Exist, the two are providing funding through their company Obvious Corporation. Stone says he heard about Beyond Meat from someone at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, another corporation backing them. “These guys are coming at the meat analogue industry not as a novelty kind of thing or hippy dippy. They were coming at it from this big science, super practical, scalable angle. They were saying, ‘We want to get into the multi-billion-dollar meat industry with a plant-based meat,” says Stone.
Beyond Meat sells vegan chicken strips that they say are a “humane protein upgrade that will fool your taste buds while helping your health and the environment.” Founder Ethan Brown says the environment was part of his reason to replace meat with a new product. “What fascinated me that we’d be sitting around in these alternative energy conferences, these big hotels with fancy speakers, and at the end of the day you’d sit down and have steak. There’s a misallocation of focus. People haven’t focused on this area. So many greenhouse gas emissions are because of livestock.”
The company hopes to start selling “beef crumbles” soon, as well as soy-free products. The Veggie Chicken Strips have already hit some Whole Foods stores in California.
Stone warns, though, that not all vegans will be into the veggie meat. “For people who are actually repulsed by meat, they’re not going to like this,” he said. “The first reaction I had was, I know this is a meat analogue but if someone were to serve this to me in a restaurant I would have said ‘I think this is a mistake. There’s something about the mouth-feel, the fattiness. It feels fatty and muscly and like it’s not good for you when you’re chewing it. For a long-time vegan, it’s a little bit freaky.”