How Investing in Food Technology Can Save the Planet and Improve Human Health

When Ethan Brown, CEO of Beyond Meat, was on his way to meet me for the Ventured podcast, he wanted to bring plant-based jerky with him. However, his dogs ate it before he ever left the door. It’s not the animal protein that we crave, Brown insists, it’s the texture and the flavor – which is why Beyond Meat uses proteins in plants rather than animal sources to create a meat alternative.

Previously a designer and street artist, Doug Evans, founder and CEO of Juicero (still in stealth), was also a guest. Evans’ interest in food technology began after his mom died of cancer, his father died of heart disease, and his brother developed type 2 diabetes and a number of heart-related conditions.

I sat down with Brown and Evans for an episode of our Ventured podcast to discuss the impact food technology can have on climate change, sustainability, and healthcare.

Traditional meat production is bad for health and the planet. (1:29)

Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are three of the top ten mortality drivers in the United States. These chronic illnesses all have a very strong link back to the consumption of meat and the unhealthy food choices we make. Besides health consequences, consuming meat has a large environmental impact. Using livestock to produce protein is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse emissions. It also takes an enormous amount of water to produce a pound of meat.

Chemically speaking, fake meat is meat. (5:49)

The architecture of animal muscle consists of five inputs: amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates, minerals, and water. You can create the composition of meat from non-animal sources and produce the exact architecture of animal muscle.

Consume more plants to be healthier. (6:29)

People are not eating enough plants and when they do, they cook most of the nutrients out of them. Also, most people don’t chew their food properly, which makes it hard to extract nutrients out. The cold pressing technique allows you to consume more vegetables as well as its nutrients.

Remove meat as a bottleneck in protein production. (10:24)

If farmers no longer have to use their acres to produce meat, they can use the fields to grow plants. Farmers aren’t the only ones who benefit. Consumers can consume a meat alternative that has no cholesterol and very low levels of saturated fat.

Why invest in food tech? (23:34)

There are opportunities all along the value chain in the food industry to disrupt. We have invested in agriculture and the seed space, big data for farming, alternative and better sources for nutrition, and the reimagination of food delivery. No matter what part of the food chain entrepreneurs try to reimagine, food technology has the ability to fundamentally improve the way we live.

Change the world by what you eat. (24:40)

We can deal with healthcare as a discrete problem and pay healthcare costs. We can deal with the climate as a discrete problem and pay the price. Or we can solve these problems by changing the way we eat.