A new brand of plant-based protein food that promises to look, feel, taste and act like chicken meat has hit the stores in the US with a promise to offer a tasty alternative to animal-based food. Beyond Meat is the brainchild of Ethan Brown, an entrepreneur who was brought up on a dairy farm in Maryland USA, whose first-hand experience with animal agriculture led him to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Frustrated with the options available, he decided to search for a better plant-based, processed vegan option to replace meat.

His mission to decrease the number of animals slaughtered for food with innovative plant protein led him to cross paths with Fu-hung Hsieh and Harold Huff at the University of Missouri. Together they developed a process that has been licensed exclusively from that university. Beyond Meat’s processing plant is more like a laboratory than a kitchen (and definitely not like an abattoir), where different ingredients based on soy, pea, carrot and gluten-free flour, among others, undergo a cooking and cooling process before strips of the stuff come out of customized equipment.

The new brand arrives at the market with the endorsement of one of the world’s most famous vegans. The Obvious Corporation, one of its financial supporters, was founded and is headed by Twitter’s Biz Stone. Stone is well known for his engagement to the vegan cause and he even published a link on the Obvious home page to the announcement of his support of Beyond Meat. He believes the company is a game-changer that will become the market leader in the development and introduction of new plant protein products.

Beyond Meat is not the first attempt to mimic meat with plant ingredients (see Gizmag's report on the Fraunhofer Institute’s Vegetarian cutlet factory). But Ethan Brown’s offering is the first one to hit the market with this level of mimetic power, designed to win over to the vegan lifestyle those who appreciate the texture of meat.

Animal agriculture is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases and is estimated to contribute 18 percent of the global total, according to a UN report from 2006, Livestock's long shadow. More than 50 billion land animals are slaughtered every year.