Huge news happened this week that has left the vegan community's feathers all kinds of ruffled. Tyson, one of the biggest meat producers in the US, just took a 5% ownership stake in Beyond Meat, the company revolutionizing plant-based burgers for the masses. Tyson now joins a list of big-name investors such as the Humane Society of the United States, Bill Gates, and General Mills.
Understandably, many vegan consumers are experiencing reactions ranging from confusion to downright outrage that a plant-based company would take money from such a large abuser of animals and trasher of the environment. Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown argued his case on the company's blog:
"Do I think Tyson and its executives are the enemy because they have a radically different view of our relationship to animals? I don't. I realize that this may disappoint many people. In fact, I've found the Tyson executives with whom I've interacted to be principled and constructive people. It is true, their beliefs don't comport with mine on animals. Yet neither do those of my broader family, the vast majority of my friends, colleagues, neighbors, and many others I greatly respect, all of whom eat animal-based meat."
Brown argues that the decision boils down to meeting consumer demand where it stands: more plant-based-leaning than ever. He also notes how Tyson acknowledges this shift. The partnership, he hopes, could bridge the gap between the meat-alternative aisles and the meat aisles of everyday grocery stores, bringing the Beyond Burger and other Beyond Meat products directly into the line of sight of the typical omnivorous consumer.
The innovator also reminds his audience that his values - health, environment, and animals - are still near and dear to his heart, mentioning the addition of a pancake-loving, potbellied pig named Wilbur to his family. At face value, it appears as if this was a difficult decision to make, considering the predicted backlash, but one that Brown hopes can catapult the plant-based movement forward.
"What can you expect from Beyond Meat going forward? More of the same relentless pursuit of meat."
With the money from Tyson's investment, Brown mentions an expansion of the research and development-geared Manhattan Beach Project and says that the company's mission will always remain the same: "building meat from plants."
Photo credit: Beyond Meat