The question of how we’re going to meet the protein needs of our global population as it rises to 9.8 billion by 2050 is rapidly becoming the biggest challenge of our time. It’s no secret that the developed world is obsessed with protein, with the average person in the U.S. consuming 103 grams per day, around double the actual recommended amount, two-thirds of which comes from animal sources. Unfortunately, industrialized animal agriculture is pushing our food system to the brink and we’re running out of land and water resources to support this highly inefficient – and destructive – system. We must change our ways. And fast. But how?

Rody Hawkins, the man who invented Lunchables way back in 1986 and worked as a scientist to help extend the shelf life of Slim Jim has a solution.

Hawkins is now the Founder and President of Improved Nature, a plant-based meat company based in North Carolina. The exciting news was recently shared by the non-profit organization, The Good Food Institute (GFI). 


GFI notes that Hawkins is a born problem-solver, even working on solutions on how to make U.S. military dishes shelf stable. He is now determined to create food that is more sustainable than the animal agriculture industry.

Through his company, Improved Nature, Hawkin is working on a versatile plant-based meat that is high in fiber, low in sodium and uses fewer resources than animal agriculture. “We now have a way to be 20 times more efficient than animal agriculture,” Hawkins explained at the recent Concordia Summit. “Right now, it takes about five pounds of soy meal to make one pound of pork. We’re taking one pound of soy protein and making five pounds of plant-based meat.”

This commitment to expanding protein to include plant-based options is undoubtedly a great move for the planet. The industrial animal agriculture system is one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the planet and we need to start shifting away from animal proteins and towards plant-based alternatives, if we want to create a truly sustainable food system that will be able to support our growing population. With this in mind, seeing all of the new plant-based alternatives coming to the market to meet virtually every consumer’s needs and wants is extremely heartening.

Looks like the question of where you get your protein from if you eat plant-based foods, is quickly going out of date. The meat alternative sector is set to be valued at $5.2 billion as soon as 2020, so there’s no denying that future of food is already here — and it’s plant-based.

We are excited to see what Improved Nature does next! To learn more about the company, click here.

For more about the environmental impact of our food choices as well as trends and developments in the plant-based food space, check out our podcast #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias.

Image source: The Good Food Institute/Facebook