Beyond Meat's chairman jokes that the veggie burger was a 'conspiracy' by the meat industry to prevent people from going vegetarian

impossible burgerJohn Raoux/AP ImagesFor Beyond Meat, winning the "taste challenge" is crucial, executive chairman Seth Goldman said.John Raoux/AP Images

  • Beyond Meat executive chairman Seth Goldman isn't trying to hawk another veggie burger.
  • Instead, he said Beyond Meat is looking to redefine the entire food category with its plant-based "meat" products. 
  • "Meat is protein from an animal: that's defining meat by its origin," Goldman said.
  • He added that you "get a different answer" when you define meat by its composition.
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LAS VEGAS - For meat alternatives, there's just no getting around the taste challenge, according to Beyond Meat executive chairman Seth Goldman. And when it came to creating a new plant-based protein, that meant not duplicating the classic veggie burger.

"I joked before that the veggie burger was a conspiracy by the meat industry to discourage people from becoming vegetarians," Goldman told the audience at the second annual Groceryshop conference in Las Vegas on Monday.

Goldman, who is also the cofounder and "TeaEO emeritus" of Honest Tea, showed the audience a photo that was supposedly taken in a Houston area grocery store, just before Hurricane Harvey hit the city in 2017. The photograph showed a fully stocked vegan section amid picked-clean shelves.

"There was just one part of the store that was fully intact: the plant-based meat section," Goldman said.

Read more: A popular salad chain is ditching beef for good and replacing it with Beyond Meat

"So we had the challenge: if we're going to scale plant-based protein, the consumer is not accepting the current option," he said.

Goldman said that, rather than create another "veggie burger," Beyond Meat sought to both win the "taste challenge" and redefine meat.

"Meat is protein from an animal: that's defining meat by its origin," he said. "But instead, if we define meat by it's composition, you get a different answer. So I say what is meat? You say, well it's an assembly of amino acids that form the proteins, it's lipids that form the fat, it's 70% water, and some trace minerals and trace carbohydrates - well, all that exists in the plant kingdom."

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