Remember the 90’s blockbuster film, Demolition Man, where all of the restaurants are Taco Bells? Well, that’s sort of happening right now; there are about five fast food restaurants for every supermarket in this country. The average American spends more on eating out than on groceries every month. The definition of the word “food” isn’t what it used to be either.
What was once typically nutrient rich and balanced is now nutritionally-void and calorically dense. The obesity epidemic in this country is so rampant that there is a possibility that the generation born today may be the first one that doesn’t outlive their parents. Whoa. So how did we let it get this bad?
There are a multitude of factors, but from a design stand point a major attribute is how advertising and marketing has made food a huge part of our mobile and popular culture: eat, shoot and share. Eating is entertainment, a hobby even. Instagram is basically 24/7 food porn and now with the development of delivery apps like Amazon Prime, Uber Eats, Eat24, and GrubHub, we can get what we see on our social feeds delivered directly to our doors wherever and whenever we want. Couple that with portions being bigger, cheesier, and meatier, it’s no wonder we’re the fattest nation in the world!
So what’s the solution, moderation? Pshh, what’s that? Veganism? Umm, I hunt and fish and love my leather boots. Go Plant-Based? But I’m addicted to Taco Bell meat!
The veggie options are viable to those that can commit to such an extreme lifestyle change but why isn’t there a simpler, one-size-fits all sort of answer for the rest of us weaker-willed mortals? I mean this IS America, after all. Well that is exactly the design problem that the folks at plant-based protein companies, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, sought to tackle.
Their target food to “plant-ify”” was an ambitious but natural choice, America’s favorite go-to, the hamburger. Picking up where the veggie patty pioneers failed, they ditched the mushroom, tofu, grain and black bean based substitutes. Both companies then went on a mission to design and develop an authentic hamburger that could fool the carnivore in all of us. How? By creating patties that “bleed”, sear, and taste like actual meat does! Praise science!
Beyond Meat is The Future of Protein. Last year their patties sold out in Whole Foods within the first hour they were debuted. Tyson Foods and Bill Gates have invested in the company, seeing it’s mainstream potential. Google even tried to buy them!
Their team features young elite athletes like San Clemente professional surfer, Tia Blanco and NBA player Eric Bledsoe of the Phoenix Suns, flipping the stereotype of tie-dye wearing hippies being the only ones into veggie burgers. Beyond Meat have even expanded their line to include ground “beefy” crumbles and “grilled” strips to accommodate any dish that you’d usually use meat in.
They’ve got great branding and design as well and their Instagram feed will definitely make you question parting ways with meat permanently.
Impossible Foods is dead set on making the impossible possible. Instead of offering their products to grocery stores, they’ve decided to join forces with chefs like David Chang of Momofuku fame, offering their patties directly to trend-setting restaurants in hopes of converting the meat-eating demographic head-on. By catering to these hip establishments across the US, the social media attention and buzz amongst young eaters is generating more conversations and awareness of these healthier, delicious and environmentally friendly alternatives. Oh yeah, Google tried to buy them as well!
Impossible Foods’ burger is truly revolutionary and is the first of it’s kind using a molecule called “heme”, which is responsible for why meat tastes like meat. Their research team were able to extract this molecule from soy and through fermentation, create it in large amounts in a sustainable way. They’ve also got a strong and well executed brand identity and impressive Instagram feed featuring their burgers made in top notch restaurants all over the nation.
It’s an exciting time for all of us, plant-based and omnivore alike since delicious health-minded food options are arguably needed now more than ever before. And yes, these foods aren’t the be all end all answer to the health and environmental problems we’re experiencing, but they are a running start to a much needed change in both arenas. These companies will no doubt fuel the innovation and interest in alternative proteins in other forms well beyond hamburger patties, creating better tasting, better for everyone and everything products. And that’s a huge win for all of us.
Check out both companies here: