Can A Burger Help Save The Planet? Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown Says Yes

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“The mission of Impossible Foods is very simple. It’s to completely replace animals in the food system by 2035.”

Pat Brown


By now, most of you have heard about the Impossible Burger.

I imagine many of you have tried it.  Arguably the ‘beefiest’ plant-based patty, even the most attuned palate has trouble believing it isn’t real meat. Now ubiquitous at fine dining establishments and fast food franchises alike, it’s a global phenomenon.

Today we explore the mission behind the burger with Impossible Foods founder & CEO Pat Brown, the man responsible for upending everything you thought you knew about plant-based meat, on a mission to forge a better environmental future for all.

A world-renowned geneticist, Pat is a former Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Biochemistry at Stanford University. He is also a founder of Lyrical Foods, maker of Kite Hill artisanal nut milk-based cheeses and a founder of the Public Library of Science (PLOS), a nonprofit publisher that pioneered the open-access business model. Pat was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002, and is a member of the Institute of Medicine. His numerous accolades include the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor, and the NAS Award in Molecular Biology.

Moved to action by the urgent need to redress global climate change, Pat founded Impossible Foods with one clear goal: to eliminate animal agriculture — inarguably one of the biggest contributors to planetary warming — by providing delicious, nutritious, and environmentally friendly alternatives to meat and dairy directly from plants.

The mission statement is ambitious, some would even say audacious. But his impact is already undeniable — and he’s just getting started.

Today he shares his story.

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This is a broad and far-reaching conversation that covers Pat’s background and the impetus behind Impossible Foods.

We cover the company’s initial success in converting high-end chefs, the subsequent penetration of the fast food industrial complex, and the entrepreneurial difficulties of rapid growth and meeting demand at scale.

We then turn attention to Pat’s mission to redress climate change. The important need to replace food from livestock with more environmental friendly alternatives. And what is required to achieve that, while meeting the finicky palate requirements of the average consumer.

Irrespective of your opinion on plant-based meat analogues, the deleterious environmental impact of intensive animal agriculture is irrefutable. Seismic changes to our food systems are mandatory if we want to responsibly redress global climate change. And each of us has the power to promote these changes, beginning with our daily food choices.

You can watch it all go down on YouTube and as always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

I really enjoyed this exchange. A compelling companion piece to last week’s conversation with Paul Hawken, my sit down with Beyond Meat founder and CEO Ethan Brown and my episodes with Good Food Institute founder Bruce Friedrich (RRP 286402), I encourage all of you to listen with an open and appreciative mind.

Peace + Plants,

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Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, audio engineering, interstitial music and show notes; Margo Lubin and Blake Curtis for video, editing and graphics.  Theme music by Ana Leimma.

*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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