Tyson Foods Is Investing In Vegan Meat

Here's some great news for those of you who are interested in cutting your meat consumption, but aren't quite ready to give up your favorite chicken, beef and pork dishes.

Tyson Foods, which The New York Times reports as the country’s largest meat processor, announced that it is the first big meat company investing in Beyond Meat. The undisclosed amount Tyson paid gives them a 5-percent stake in the meat alternative company.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Beyond Meat, it is a company based in California that actually constructs meat-like products from protein sources such as peas and soy.

I’m sure most of you have tried fake meat products that don’t really measure up to the real thing; however, reviews for Beyond Meat products -- such as its Beyond Burger, a plant-protein burger that oozes and even seems to bleed just like a real meat-patty -- consistently praise them for their meaty taste and quality.

"The quality of the Beyond Burger is amazing,” Monica McGurk, a former Coca-Cola executive who joined Tyson in the spring as senior vice president in charge of strategy and new ventures, told the Times. "We think it’s a game-changing product that gives us exposure to this fast-growing part of the food business.”

As it happens, now is the perfect time for a meat processor to begin investing in meat alternatives, seeing as the Plant Based Foods Association claims that $4.9 billion in sales have gone toward plant-based products for the 12 months through June.

In other words: Americans have an appetite for fake meat, and they’re willing to pay good money for it.

"The question in my mind with these acquisitions is always why they’re being done," Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, told The New York Times. "The most positive view is that this means the meat industry is shifting away from animal meat to plant-based meat, but I don’t think we know that’s the case yet -- it could also be a way of distracting attention from their industrial meat business."

Ethan Brown, the founder and chief executive of Beyond Meat, has a more positive outlook toward the investment, and hopes that vegans and vegetarians understand that a move like this could influence more people to go meat-free as the stigma of alternative protein lessens.

Brown said to the Times: "I’m hoping, though, that they and others will see this as part of a deliberate course of action to get out of the penalty box that’s the ‘alternative’ section in the supermarket and get into a mainstream discussion with the consumer."