Why Twitter’s Co-Founders are Betting Big on a Vegan Meat Startup

Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams are investing big in Beyond Meat, a start-up company that manufactures “the first plant protein that looks, feels, tastes, and acts like meat.”

In addition to tasting and feeling like “real meat,” the company’s lineup of products are also healthier than meat, with no cholesterol or saturated fat, but plenty of plant-based protein. A 3 oz serving of the chicken strips has just 100 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 19 grams of protein!

Right now, Beyond Meat ships wholesale for less than the cost of most organic, free-range, and “natural” meats. While it is still more expensive than factory-farmed meat, the price point is expected to drop as the company scales up its production.

An Obvious Idea?

The Obvious Corporation, a company founded by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone and former Twitter VP of Product Jason Goldman, typically works with tech-based companies. But long-time vegan Biz Stone was intrigued when he learned of an opportunity to invest in Beyond Meat.

Stone was quoted: “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.'”

Although The Obvious Company just announced their backing of the startup, Beyond Meat was born back in 2009, when founder Ethan Brown realized the potential role of diet in solving our climate change problems. Brown noted: “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…So many greenhouse gas emissions are because of livestock.”

Too Meaty?

It’s undeniably a good thing if “realistic” plant-based meat substitutes can win over and convert current meat eaters. The potential environmental, ethical, and health benefits of such a product gaining widespread use and acceptance are almost unfathomable.

But how will vegetarians and vegans respond to the product? Stone explained: “There’s something about the mouth-feel…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.”

But the product is already flying off the shelves in Northern California Whole Foods stores. The store’s prepared foods coordinator noted that other Whole Foods locations may soon begin carrying the product. He explained: “if we continue to see this kind of excitement, we’re not going to wait two months to roll it out. It could be two weeks.”

But what do YOU think about a “plant protein that looks, feels, tastes, and acts like meat?” Would you try it?

Image Credit: Beyond Meat