Delectable dishes made by Saturn Cafe start with the magic of incredible vendors who deliver quality foods to our kitchens. We strive to use local, organic, non-GMO ingredients as often as we can, and are proud to work with innovative companies just like this.
If you’ve ever taken a bite out of Saturn’s Pulled BBQ “Chicken” Burger, munched on our salads with “chicken,” or supercharged your nachos, then you have already enjoyed the incredible flavors of Beyond Meat. This California-based company has created one of the best plant-based chicken products that we have ever tasted, adding depth and flavor to many of our favorite dishes. Ever since its inception in 2009, Beyond Meat has revolutionized the plant-based meat industry, working hard to develop foods that deliver on taste and satisfaction as well as compassion and sustainability.
June 18th is Father’s Day, and at Saturn Cafe we’re celebrating with a Beast Burger special! Before you stop in with your dads, grandads, stepdads, papas, sons, daughters, and anyone else you want to celebrate with, here’s what you need to know about Beyond Meat, one of Saturn’s favorite vendors.
The Origin Story
Photo: Beyond Meat
Founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, Ethan Brown had been working for a fuel cell company, and was passionate about a more sustainable world. He was also vegan, and ultimately realized that his vision for creating a plant-based meat that could replace the traditional animal base of most people’s meals (that four ounces of protein at the center of the plate) could have a bigger and faster impact on the environment and on animal welfare than the work he was currently doing. Beyond Meat was founded soon after in 2009.
After reading a research paper about new approaches to using plant material for “meats,” Brown reached out to the authors and began working on commercializing their very first product: the chicken strip. It took three years to fine tune, and was eventually used in Whole Foods’ prepared foods section before being developed to sell directly to consumers. A few years later, they developed the beef crumble. Now, the company has a variety of non-GMO, 100% plant-based foods that are sold in stores and featured in restaurants, just like yours truly!
The Beyond Burger
Photo: Beyond Meat
At a trade event in Anaheim earlier this year, the annual Natural Products Expo West, Beyond Meat featured the newest addition to their product lineup. The Beyond Burger came out only last year and marks a true tipping point for plant-based meats.
100% soy-free, non-GMO, and gluten free, the Beyond Burger looks much like a raw beef style burger, and is sold and packaged fresh–not frozen–unlike most of the precooked products. When you cook it, it sizzles and transitions color in much more traditionally mouthwatering way. But it is for its taste that the company has seen the burger to be widely appreciated by typical carnivores. In fact, in-store surveys of new customers have found that around 70% of people buying it identify as carnivores, and usually have no aversion to eating meat.
Seven years in development, this is the first plant-based burger that is so truly beef-like that it is actually sold by Whole Foods in the meat section of the grocery store. This has never happened before. While there is precedent, given that milk alternatives can now be found in the milk aisle alongside dairy, plant-based meats have always been relegated to their own section, typically off the beaten path of mainstream shoppers. But Whole Foods was impressed by the Beyond Burger, and agreed to position it as an alternative option alongside the animal meats.
To Beyond Meat, it has always seemed that plant-based meats suffered from a “penalty box problem” in most grocery stores. Stashed in the frozen aisle, a lot of consumers don’t even know that such options exist, and it’s not where many people look to find the centerpiece to their meals. “We believed it was our job to create a product that deserved to be in the meat section, that earned its place. And when you put a product like the Beyond Burger on the main stage where most consumers go to look for that protein solution, you’re elevating that choice as an option.”
A New Era of Vegetarianism
The mission of Beyond Meat, perhaps the rallying call for many plant-based innovators today, is to take all the “no’s” away. For a carnivore who likes the taste of meat, it’s a hard sell to offer a veggie burger that tastes bad. But vegetarian food has come a long way in the past couple of decades, and the old “hockey puck veggie burger” has long since disappeared.
Now that we have all come so far in developing delicious foods that also happen to be sustainable and humane, the goal becomes spreading awareness of this new(-ish) reality. In our culture, the slice of animal meat has become the automatic center of the dish, and to eat otherwise becomes a sacrifice. But we know how many options there are out there for tasty, natural, plant-based dishes that don’t require the sacrifice of an animal life or a satisfying meal.
What message does Beyond Meat have for the die-hard carnivores who want to eat better, but can’t imagine giving up meat?
“Eat what you love. We are here to give you an option that enables you to eat more, not less of the traditional meaty dishes you love, while enjoying the health and sustainability of plant-based protein.”
In their quest to create what they call the “Tesla of plant-based meat”–good for the environment but also attractive and enjoyable–Beyond Meat is looking to give people the better option which also does a lot of good.