End of Meat? Startups Seek Meat Alternatives for the Masses

Patrick Brown is on an improbable mission: Make a burger Americans love, minus the meat.

Veggie patties have been around for decades, but Brown and others want to make foods without animal products that look, cook and taste like the real thing — and can finally appeal to the masses.

“We are not making a veggie burger. We’re creating meat without using animals,” said Brown, a former Stanford scientist who has been scanning plants in search of compounds that can help recreate meat.

Brown’s company, Impossible Foods, is part of a wave of startups aiming to wean Americans off foods like burgers and eggs, and their efforts are attracting tens of millions of dollars from investors. The goal is to lessen the dependence on livestock for food, which they say isn’t as healthy, affordable or environmentally friendly as plant-based alternatives.

The challenge is that most Americans happily eat meat and eggs. That means that, without a breakthrough, those seeking to upend factory farming risk becoming footnotes in the history of startups.