Jan. 27, 2022

Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown on Navigating the Plant-Based Meat Biz

“People have a right to see how their food is made.”


Nora and Scott chat with Ethan Brown, the founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, one of the leading companies in the plant-based meat industry, about the cultural shift around eating meat, and how to navigate the growing plant-based meat industry. Source note: Scott references this Business Insider article about “the world’s first modern vegetarians” in the quiz.

Hosts: Nora Ali & Scott Rogowsky
Producer: Bella Hutchins
Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus
Music: Daniel Markus & Breakmaster Cylinder
Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop
Director of Audio: Alan Haburchak
VP, Head of Multimedia: Sarah Singer

Full transcript for this episode below. 

Transcript

Ethan Brown: If you look at whether it's human health, whether it's climate, whether it's our general environment, land, energy, and water or animal welfare, I had never seen anything in my career and I still haven't today, just focusing on one thing, which is to replace animal protein center plate with the plant-based protein. You can affect all four of those global challenges. And I think the kind of focus group and I think dogma throughout the industry, which is probably still pretty accurate, is it first motivates people with really, "I want to be healthier." Maybe, "My doctor said I have to watch the levels of saturated fat or I've got high cholesterol or heart disease or whatever it is." So that pushes them into a decision. But I think what's fascinating to me over the last four or five years is climate. People are really starting to make connection between the food that they're eating and the impact on climate.

Nora Ali: From Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, the podcast that reveals the unexpected business story behind everything. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky. Nora and I are here for your ears, bringing you conversations with creators, thinkers, and innovators who can tell us what it all means and why we should care. Now let's get down to business.

Nora Ali: What's your experience with plant-based meat? Are you a fan?

Scott Rogowsky: Well, I have a lot of experience with it actually. I've got four patties in my freezer right now. There were six. I've been going through them pretty quickly. I tend to eat two at a time because they're just that good. And I've been rocking the Beyond Meat sausages for a while. It's it's honestly one of those things, Nora, I don't know when you remember you first hearing about, plant-based meats. It definitely seemed like science fiction when I first was hip to this, I guess over a decade ago now, maybe even the mid 2000, I remember seeing articles about, this could be the future and I am a health conscious eater, right. And I've definitely have avoided things like hot dogs, even though they're so American and certain meat products, because there are just, they're clearly bad for you. It's just so, I mean there's no way around it. Like, yes, they can be delicious, but my God, you don't know what's going in them. The nitrates, the nitrites, the cholesterol, the saturated fats. And it just doesn't sustain as a product you can put in your body. I mean, my body is a synagogue, Nora. I have to be careful, what goes in here. So I was very excited to see that there were these alternatives to some meats coming up in the market and I tried them and I like them. I do like them-

Nora Ali: They're good. Yeah. I'm a huge fan. Especially of when any company comes up with plant-based chicken tenders, chicken nuggets. I'm a chicken girl. So I love that. And just from the interest on the investment side, I've been covering this space for the past few years and it's just exploded. I was following the Beyond Meat IPO super closely a couple of years ago. And it's now pretty mainstream enough that the skeptics early on for on the investment side who are saying, "Oh, it's a fad. It's going to go away." They are now coming around, turning around and saying, "No, this is definitely a mega trend where even the most hardcore carnivores are trying these products because they taste so similar to real animals." And I actually can't stop taking bites of my Beyond Burger that's sitting next to me, even at room temperature it tastes good.

Scott Rogowsky: And it does come down to you want to have the comparable taste. That's probably the hardest thing, the taste and the texture, right? And then they want to see the blood. People want to see that red. So they have the beet juice in there.

Nora Ali: Beet juice, yeah.

Scott Rogowsky: It has to, you have to approximate, the look, the feel, the taste. But I got to give credit to these scientists over there. This company's been around for over 12 years now and they figured it out. And as we learn from Ethan, they're constantly improving, constantly working on R&D, come up with new products, but also improving the staples. So this is a really fun conversation to dive deep, to go beyond, Beyond Meat.

Nora Ali: Most definitely. So today, our dear listeners, we will hear from Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, which is one of the leading companies in the plant-based meat industry. Ethan join us to talk about his own story, the cultural shift around eating meat, and navigating the growing plant-based meat industry. So here's our conversation with Ethan Brown.

Scott Rogowsky: Let's get into it, Ethan. I mean, you started Beyond Meat in 2009. Today, your products are available in over 120,000 outlets in over 80 countries worldwide. It's just a phenomenal growth. And there's also been a change, not just in the supermarkets, the products we're seeing, but in how consumers react to the idea of plant-based meat. What do you think has changed over the last decade about the way especially us consumers think about eating less meat and trying products like yours?

Ethan Brown: It's a great question. And a lot really has changed. We began this journey in 2009. There were some pioneers that had come before us that had done some really great products and gotten people somewhat familiar. But I think the difference and if there's one contribution that we were able to make is that, coming out of the energy sector had seen a lot of very big projects where we were working on creating a proton exchange membrane fuel cell for automobiles and for industrial power that at the point of use had no emissions. And the Department of Energy and private sector capital were putting billions of dollars into this technology. And it's all the same thing in lithium-ion batteries and solar cells and things of that nature. And the second component was bringing together the best engineers and scientists in the world to work on these problems. People had understanding that the energy sector was contributing to climate and that it was worth investing in combining that very large budget mentality with the idea that you have to bring together the best science and engineer bring that into the food business. And that I think changed things in the sense that, before maybe look at it as a culinary exercise, but what we were doing was saying, "Could you actually rebuild a piece of meat directly from plants?" And so giving them the resources to do that, collecting people from really terrific institutions and universities, and kind of getting out of their way, giving them a very clear goal, which is to build a piece of meat that's indistinguishable from its animal protein equivalents, just using whole plant material to do so. As you do that and create better products, more and more people are willing to come into the sector. And that's I think what you've seen over the last decade with ourselves, with others, is that there's just been more energy put into trying to create products that someone who is primarily carnivorous is actually going to go and consume and enjoy.

Nora Ali: And there's many reasons why we collectively have started caring more about plant-based meats. It's the planet, there's environmental reasons, our health, animal welfare generally. So what do you think is now the impetus for new consumers who haven't tried plant-based products before, they're looking into it for the first time? What is driving them towards these products?

Ethan Brown: Yeah. It's the suite of challenges that this solution addresses is exactly as you just described. I mean, if you look at whether it's human health, whether it's climate, whether it's our general environment, land, energy, and water, or animal welfare, I had never seen anything in my career, and I still haven't today, just focusing on one thing, which is to replace animal protein center plate with the plant-based protein, you can affect all four of those global challenges. And I think the kind of focus group, and I think dogma throughout the industry, which is probably still pretty accurate is that what first motivates people is really, "I want to be healthier." Maybe, "My doctor said, I have to watch the levels of, of saturated fat or I've got high cholesterol or heart disease" or whatever it is. So that pushes them into a decision. But I think what's fascinating to me over the last four or five years is climate. And people are really starting to make connection between the food that they're eating and the impact on climate. And I could expound on that for a second. When I was in graduate school, one of the main things that I studied was sort of intergenerational equity issues with climate. And this was a long time ago and the people that were going to be most impacted by climate change were kind of a distant population. We just, doing a set of sense responsibility that this is going to be something that is going to come down the road for the next generational, future generations. But what's happened today many years later is the proximity has collapsed to where it's literally the generation that is causing the most emissions are now side by side with the first generation in human history that's really going to experience the significant and very dangerous consequences of climate change. And so I think young people are stepping up and saying, "This is something that we're going to bear." If you think about the emissions profile globally now, more than half of greenhouse gas emissions have been generated since 1990. So that's my generation. That's many other adults that are out there and it's become so close in time to the victims of that emission loading that it's literally our own children that we're doing it to. And so I think that young people are stepping up and saying, "We're not willing to just stand by and watch that happen." That they can't go out and buy a Tesla or Prius or things of that nature, but they can buy a five dollar burger. And I think that we need to empower people to make change in their own lives, to address climate, because it is very real. It's kind of-

Scott Rogowsky: What I love about the way you've described your products and it really is something I never sort of reckon with, you say it's not fake meat, it's kind of a misnomer to call this fake meat. This is meat. It's simply made from plants or other products. I mean, look, when you talk about meat, there's beef, there's pork, there's poultry, there's ostrich burgers, these are all meat, right? So this is just another form of meat. It's not an animal. Have you thought about how to market to those people who are still weirded out by the idea of what they think is fake meat? Because that to me is like the last boundary, the last hurdle, crack that mental block that people have about, "Oh, well this is processed." It's no more processed than the Boar's Head turkey you're eating every day in your sandwiches.

Ethan Brown: Yes. So exactly right. It's very frustrating when people refer to it as fake. And the analogy I've always used is that we don't call a mobile phone, a fake phone. It's just a different phone, right. Not saying it's a fake landline. It still serves the same purpose and does it better. And so for us, it's how do we get people to step away from traditional definition of meat, which comes from a chicken, cow, pig, or other animal and step into a perception where they're thinking about meat in terms of composition. And it's composition is actually quite simple. It's amino acids, it's lipids, it's trace minerals, it vitamins and it's water. It's those five things and no coincidence. It's exactly what's in our bodies. And none of those things are exclusive to the animal. They're present throughout the plant kingdom. And so what the animal's doing is they're using their digestive tract and their skeletal muscular system to organize those inputs in the form of muscle. And we then harvest that, it's meat and that's a process, right? You grow the vegetable matter and material, you feed the animal, you feed the animal through its growth and then process. And so it's not that one is processing and the other is not, it's just which process are you more comfortable with? And the thing that I think probably speaks volumes, or should I hope, is you know you can come to our facilities at any time. You don't have to call in advance, you'll just knock on the door. Somebody there will give you a tour if you want. And that's really important to me because people have a right to see how their food is made. But I do ask that if you do that, you also try to do that at a processing facility and you'd probably be able to. And so it's a question of we're taking these proteins and these fats directly from plants and we're running it through heating, cooling, and pressure. And that's basically, if you think about the way a protein presents, if it presents like this in a plant, right, what we're doing is using heating, cooling, and pressure, to break the bonds and then reset them in the form of muscle. And that's the process that we use. And so someday I think that'll be celebrated as a great process versus a liability.

Nora Ali: So there's nothing fake about it. It's actually science.

Ethan Brown: Right. And it's meat from plants. It's just skipping, running all those plants through an animal.

Nora Ali: Ethan, I want to get your take on competition because on the one hand, it is better for our planet and for consumers, if there are more plant-based meat companies out there, but you also want to win, you're also a business. So what is your philosophy around competition, especially when there is a greater good?

Ethan Brown: So, I have a glib answer and I have a serious one. The glib answer is competition is good as long as we're winning, but the real answer, you know first of all, competing is fun. I mean, the NBA would not be fun if there was no other teams to play against, you need teams and it spurs this and there's pride in these buildings. We have so many bright young people here working. There were 200 engineers and scientists that are working every day. So there's a lot of pride in what we do. And with pride comes a competitive spirit. Many of them are contemplating going into looking at cure for cancer and going into the medical industry and studying protein chemistry as a result, and then decided, "Hey, why don't I come and try to prevent some of these in the first place?"

Nora Ali: As someone who has tried many different brands of plant-based meats, I do feel like there's quite a distinct flavor from brand to brand. Do you think that's part of it? Is that what you're trying to do to stay differentiated, or will we converge to the taste of real meat for all the brands altogether at some point?

Ethan Brown: I think we're all chasing the same North star, which is that indistinguishable build of meat direct from plants. And so we don't try to affect a kind of particular taste that's different from that. But I think we're just getting closer and closer. And then this is one of the interesting parts about the science behind this is over 4,000 molecules that make meat taste like meat. And our job is to find those molecules in plants or analagous molecules, harvest them, and then organize them in some way within our products so that under heating, three or four minute period, the aroma is the same in the taste is the same everything else. So we're just getting better every year at doing that. And our team is getting more advanced in the ability to find that 20% or so that's driving most of the taste. I think the way that you'll see us differentiate is around ingredients. We stick to a very clean ingredient list. So we don't use any genetic modification to design or build our products. We think that everything that we need is in nature already, and that's a big governing philosophy for us. And then in the future, what's exciting is, I've always talked about this, that we have to do three things. One is to continue to improve the product, two is to make sure the consumer understands the health of the products, right? So the people are out there saying, "Oh, it's processed." We have to attack that head on and say, "Look, it's a very healthy product." We've done that. We've done great work with Stanford on that, which I can talk about. And then the third is to drop the price of our products to parity and then below that of animal protein. So those are the things we're marking toward. But someday I think you'll see us be able to come out with products that specialize in a particular protein. So if you want to have lentils and you want to have those lentils be from a particular part of our country, it'll be fun to say, "Well, these are grown by such and such a farmer in such and such a state." And then tell his or her story about how they grew those lentils. And so, but that's in the future.

Scott Rogowsky: That's interesting like the Angus certified that certain types of beef, right? You can sort of correlate that to the plant protein.

Ethan Brown: Exactly.

Scott Rogowsky: I love this conversation. We're going to take a quick break more from Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown when we come back. Ethan let's dig into the science behind this, because Nora and I are both geeks for this kind of stuff, plants and plant proteins. What does it take to make a Beyond Meat burger for example? Versus a sausage, versus your pepperoni products with Pizza Hut versus-

Nora Ali: And chicken too.

Scott Rogowsky: And chicken tenders and all that. Is that a crazy engineering and scientific problem to figure out or is just a matter of mixing and matching different proteins and trial and error and just see what happens?

Ethan Brown: That's a great question. If I look at your bio, you went to Hopkins, which is such a great medical school and many other schools.

Scott Rogowsky: Down the street from you.

Ethan Brown: Yeah, exactly. It's just international relations, political science, all that. What a terrific school. One of the guys I worked very early and I'm indebted to, for so much of the structure of our initial scientific team was a guy named Joseph Puglisi who was a Hopkins graduate. But thinking about a particular animal, it's a structure of that protein. So a quick twitch muscle has a different structure than a slower muscle and an undulate or something. So thick poultry versus beef, there's different instructions of proteins and some will be longer and more straggly than others. And so getting to understand the protein structure itself of the species that you're trying to rebuild and then going from there. So then there's a different taste profile, there's different levels of fat, there's different, obviously color to the product. So they are quite different in some sense and then of course there's an underlying platform that's the same. And so we have different teams set up for different proteins like pork, poultry, beef teams and things of that nature. And my dream is someday to have them play softball against each other and things like that.

Nora Ali: Because we are a competition, right?

Ethan Brown: Yeah. And it's fun. I mean the other day the chicken team made like a whole t-shirt for themselves and stuff like that. It's cool. But there's underlying platform to all of this, it's that assembly of amino acids and fats and enrichment all from vitamins. And that makes sense. I mean, if you look at the origin of life, there's this top building block that we all have, which are those materials I just talked about and even more fundamentally nitrogen and hydrogen, oxygen, stuff like that. And then there's this organizing mechanism, which is the double helix and DNA that's present in all life and not just animal life, but in plant life. And so one of the things that I've spoken about in the past, which I find super exciting for what we're doing, and there's, Peter Godfrey-Smith really helped me see this as a writer in a book called Metazoa. And he was writing about the proliferation throughout life of this quality of bilateral symmetry, where if you look at our face, it's same on both sides, my hands, same both sides, roughly. And if you look at the design of an animal, obviously they're the same thing. And then if you look at the plant kingdom, right, and this is just something that happened about a year ago, I was hiking very early in the morning. I was looking out along the path where I was going, the light was still just coming in. And I saw what I thought was a bunch of feathers from a bird that had been taken down because we have coyotes in the areas outside Los Angeles. And as I got closer, I realized my mind was confused that it was just a scattering of leaves that had slightly grayed. And what confused me was that bilateral symmetry, where the leaf had that, you know, orientation right down the middle and then two very similar sides, exactly like a feather. And so there's a commonality to life which reflects the origin of life itself, stars all the way through to the actual prescient life on Earth that makes our job easier because all life has a common blueprint to it.

Scott Rogowsky: It's a mathematical equation at the end of the day.

Ethan Brown: Yeah, it is. Yeah.

Nora Ali: So with all of these different animal meats that you're trying to mimic with plant-based products, I imagine that's quite capital intensive. You have different teams tackling different proteins and you also mentioned getting to price parity, ultimately being able to offer these products at the same price, or perhaps even lower than regular animal meats. How do you get to that point where it's cheap enough that people don't actually have to think twice when they're choosing a Beyond product versus a normal burger?

Ethan Brown: I mean, that really is the goal, first of all, for taste be exactly right. And then we're getting very close on that, on certain products and then have the health proposition so clear. And then third is if it's priced the same, below, it becomes usual to consumers like it tastes just like, it's good for me, and it's cheaper, I'm still not going to eat it. Like then that's kind of on them, right And so we, we have to get to that point. And I think when I first started the business, I was always so puzzled by that. If we're taking out the bottleneck in this whole system, which is the animal, why is it still more expensive? It's an issue of scale, not only in our own production process, but it's also in supply chain, it's such a new supply chain, so there's so many players that are emerging right now that will increase competition in our supply chain and give us lower pricing. And then it's just scaling, like we're a fairly big company, but compared to a Cargill or a JBS or someone of that nature, Tyson, extremely small in terms of the footprint of operations. So let us get a little bigger and we can start to create some of those economies of scale and pass those on to the consumer.

Nora Ali: Can you give us a little context on how small you are compared to some of those incumbent players in the space?

Ethan Brown: Yeah. So just by looking at last year's revenue, you know, it's public, and slightly north of 400 million compared to 40 billion plus in revenue. So we're still just a fraction.

Scott Rogowsky: Ethan, we're holding Beyond Meat burgers in our hands right now. Nora and I. Looking mighty good. I'm curious, as someone who's been consuming Beyond Meat, I don't know. Let's see, five, six years now.

Nora Ali: Well, should we take some bites?

Scott Rogowsky: If I take a bite now I might not be able to get through my question, but-

Nora Ali: I'm chewing.

Scott Rogowsky: But while Nora chews, I'm curious how often you are updating the software, so to speak, right? I mean, you can compare it to Apple iPhones, you get the update every so often. How often are you changing the formula, improving the taste profile or finagling with the formula? Is it every six months? Every year? I mean, is the Beyond Burger patty I'm holding here the same as it was last year, two years ago?

Ethan Brown: Yeah. It's a big passion for me, is we call it Beyond Meat Rapid and Relentless Innovation program. And it's really designed to do a couple things. One is to deliver to the market these products that people are enjoying right now, whether it's the new KFC or the Pizza Hut products that we just did or the McPlant, et cetera, but it's also to continue to improve that core platform. And so we work really hard on that. And that's one of those, I think pretty well understood curves where at the very beginning it's easier and then starts to get incrementally harder as we get closer to the target and then that's certainly happening, but we don't stop. And so every year I try to make an improvement in the products and when we feel that we've had enough come together that's worth introducing a new version, we do. And so there'll be actually one, hopefully coming out, not too distant future, but we do very extensive testing with consumer groups and sets of carnivores, vegetarians, current customers. We look at how much closer we're scoring for animal protein and then make a decision.

Scott Rogowsky: I'll volunteer for this. I'm not too far away. I want to be part of these taste test groups.

Ethan Brown: You're more than welcome.

Nora Ali: For people who might discover your products at a quick service restaurant, like McDonald's or KFC or Pizza Hut, do you find that they become loyal consumers and then end up purchasing in the grocery store? How much overlap is there in terms of where customers are finding you?

Ethan Brown: That's one of the things that I'm so excited about for this year is that if you look at where we were in 2020, going into the year, we'd had all these launches lined up with our QSR partners and then COVID hit it. And those were postponed, but they're finally starting to happen. And so, you're going to be seeing us advertised in KFC, go get the product, it's delicious and then, you see it in McDonald's. And so we do believe there's going to be a pretty significant crossover into retail. And that's the dream is, we want make it successful to everybody. And the more we can get traction in food service, we think the more that'll lead into retail, and then it's going to drive that cost structure so that we can make this something that there's no penalty to making a decision to go Beyond or to have a plant-based product.

Nora Ali: Can you talk to us a little bit more about how those relationships work with the QSR companies? Because when I think about KFC and McDonald's, I think of very specific flavor profiles, I have expectations of what I'm getting. So how do you work back and forth and collaboratively with them?

Ethan Brown: It's some of the most fun parts of my job. I really enjoy working with these customers because just what you've said, it's like such an iconic and it just permeates so much of our culture and upbringing, like I eat a lot of this food. I know exactly what tastes like, right. And so just to be able to go in there and work with them to say, "Can we do something that's going to be a transition to consumer over to more of a plant-based diet, but still deliver that signature McDonald's taste or that signature KFC taste?" And they really work hard with us to do that. These programs are years in the making. We didn't just wake up and make the McPlant, you know, that was the collaboration that went on for a long time. And the same with KFC. And the thing I love about these partners is self-critical that we are as a group in terms of always wanting to do better, always wanted to create better products. They also are going to push us to make sure that it's absolutely a terrific outcome for the consumer in terms of what the consumer's expecting at McDonald's and KFC. So it's that original flavor, all of that stuff. And so you get to know the cultures of these companies and the people there, and somebody's discouraged about, can we tackle climate? Can we tackle human health? Working with some of these very large companies and some executives there that are progressive and forward thinking gives you a lot of hope.

Scott Rogowsky: I hope one day we can walk into a McDonald's and all of the burgers are made of Beyond products or some plant-based product. And maybe they do it overnight, not tell anybody, just change the entire menu. And, "Oh my God," I'm just eating my Big Mac. Who can know the difference?

Ethan Brown: I will confess this without naming the company, but I've asked them if I could become a franchisee so I could open an all new personal one, so I could open an all plant-based [crosstalk].

Nora Ali: That's amazing.

Ethan Brown: It would be great going everything, like everything.

Nora Ali: That would blow up on TikTok, you got to do it.

Ethan Brown: And you make it green. Like you literally make the building green and-

Scott Rogowsky: Beyond McDonald's 

Ethan Brown: They would not allow me. Yes.

Scott Rogowsky: We, we have to take another quick break, but when come back more with Ethan. Is the McPlant patty that you are serving at McDonald's, is that the same patty as the one in this Beyond Burger that you get at the grocery store? Or is it a proprietary--

Ethan Brown: It's different.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah.

Ethan Brown: That reflects collaboration we did with them. So they wanted to impart that McDonald's flavor. And so we worked for a long time and I think we nailed it. Like that one, I feel super good about it in the KFC one. I think you get the KFC and you get the McDonald's taste.

Scott Rogowsky: When you hear about these partnerships that you're making with Legacy Meat companies, whether they're restaurants, because there is certainly some antagonism there. I mean, the meat industry was reportedly behind a 2019 marketing campaign by the Center for Consumer Freedom that raised concerns about plant-based meat, some ads calling them ultra-processed imitations. When you're striking these relationships and future partnerships with these traditional meat manufacturers and purveyors, is there awkwardness there? Is there some point where you sit down and say, "Look, I know we're coming at these two different ends of the spectrum, but we both have a common goal in mind"? Or are they starting to realize, "Maybe we should welcome these new players and maybe we should be more climate conscious." How do you have those conversations?

Ethan Brown: Yeah, that's a very good question. And I think it's a very, you know the tapestry there gets sort of varied in terms of responses and I feel it's such urgency to what we're doing, that I kind of just set all that aside and I knew they were attacking us and we didn't respond. And we won't. I mean, we just keep working on what we're working on and disrupting in this area is such an interesting thing because it's not like the iPhone that I was using earlier, analogy where there's not emotion around it. People have emotion around animal meat. We celebrate it, different cultures and different ways but it's a centerpiece. We have issues of masculinity around it and all these other things. It's a very kind of emotive discussion. So you have to be careful about it. And if I grew up eating meats, if you look back at our evolution of species, it was pretty important and the decision to consume meat, but I'm a very strict vegan, but I've been on that journey and understand it and understand I think both sides and have many people close to me and my family, love to eat a lot of meat. And so I think you have to pitch a really big tent. You got to be accepting of all different points of view, even as you try to bring the life, the vision that you have.

Nora Ali: Ethan, what's the best case scenario for you in our lifetimes? Do you envision a world where we don't eat animal meats anymore?

Ethan Brown: That would be great for business and it'd be, I think, better for the climate and things like that. I don't think that will get that full conversion necessarily. But I think that as we make these products better, I think within my lifetime, you'll see a significant percentage of the population switch to a plant-based meat. But we have to nail those three things. You got to have the taste, you got to have a very clear health proposition, and you got to get the cost structure to where it needs to be. But I get, again, I also come back to climate where, I was looking at the study that something like 60% of young people, this is reported on NPR the other day, are expressing some sort of anxiety around climate it said, people are like 18 years old or younger. And then you look at the consumer trends. People are now demanding more of companies in terms of what their climate position is. And so I think we're perfectly positioned to take advantage of that from a consumer uptake perspective. That this is a solution that people can embrace. They can do it for now. As people that are still very young, like kind of 11 or 12, we do see this a lot where there's just stated preference for Beyond Meat over the animal protein. Their parents have served them so much, their accustomed to the taste, accustomed to how it makes them feel. And so I think the more we can tap into that younger generation and not have them so wed to animal protein, I think the better that this will be.

Nora Ali: We'll leave things there. Ethan, this is such a great conversation. Ethan Brown is the CEO of Beyond Meat. Thanks, ,Ethan, for your time.

Ethan Brown: Oh, of course. Of course. My pleasure.

Scott Rogowsky: Time once again for Quizzness Casual, the Business Casual quiz. Today's contestants, my co-host Nora Ali teaming up with Morning Brew's director of audio Alan Haburchak, working together to tackle these questions, all about vegetarianism. Whatch Y'all know about vegetarianism? Qumero Numero Uno: What did one of the earliest known groups of modern vegetarians call themselves? The Jeffersonians, the Pythagoreans, the Plantatarians, or the Olympians?

Nora Ali: What an excellent question. I feel like it is not Pythagoreanism because I only know Pythagoras for his triangles.

Alan Haburchak: Right. Pythagorean theorem. Triangles. I mean, I guess it could be like a philosophy or something that was part of it or something like that. I feel like the people were big into move movements in that time.

Nora Ali: Yeah. That's true.

Alan Haburchak: Like early ancient years, you get your science and your math and your diet and all that together. But I don't know. I feel like we would've heard about that. I think it's straightforward. Like-

Nora Ali: Something stupid, like plantatarianism right?

Alan Haburchak: Yeah. Occam's Razor: Simplest explanation is usually the best one. If you're eating plants, you're a plantatarian. I'm with you on that.

Nora Ali: All right. Lock it in, plantatarianism.

Scott Rogowsky: Plantatarians, well, Occam's Razor is shaving you off this one because the answer is the Pythagoreans. The one you were so quick to dismiss is actually the correct answer, because you did have a nugget of truth there. Yes. There's a philosophy. Pythagoras was not just a mathematician. Also, a Greek philosopher. Yeah. He created the geometric Pythagorean theorem, but he also believed in metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls. In one lifetime, you could be born a human, but in your next you could very well end up as a pig and get slaughtered for bacon, according to Mr. Pythagoras. So the early vegetarians called themselves Pythagoreans. Let's see if you could regroup and rebound on Q2. When did people start using the word vegetarian to describe a person who abstains from eating meat? Was it the 19th century 1847, the 17th century 1689, 18th century 1776, or the 20th century 1944?

Nora Ali: What calls to me is 1944, because of war time, maybe there was some reason why people were being encouraged to not eat meat. I don't know, cost saving reasons. I don't know. It calls to me.

Alan Haburchak: A lot of those labels I feel like were ultimately started as marketing things. Like the word teenager started as a marketing term.

Nora Ali: Really?

Alan Haburchak: Yeah. Oh no. In the twenties. Yeah. The word teenager is totally something that marketing people came up with to market to people who were that age. So yeah, that makes sense to me, could have made it vegetarian, like to create a marketing class to market to. Plus 1776 is clearly there as a dummy. I don't think the founding people were sitting there like... I think they were meat eaters. So I'm with you Nora, I think 1944.

Nora Ali: Right. We're locked in 1944 and Alan gave us very great reasoning for it.

Scott Rogowsky: Great reasoning. But it's faulty reasoning. At the end of the day, there really is no reason for this. Honestly, this is a tough one. I wouldn't know it. No one would, unless you were present for the very first vegetarian society formed in Ramsgate, England, back on September 29th, 1847. That is when the term vegetarian replaced Pythagorean. The final question this quiz, you guys are 0 for two. So, can you redeem yourself here on the final question? Here it is. Who is credited with saying, "If slaughter houses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian?" Morrissey, Bono, Paul McCartney, or Dolly Parton.

Nora Ali: Alan, do you know about the vegetarian status of these folks? Because I don't.

Alan Haburchak: Dolly Parton. No. I feel like that's just there because Dolly's been a lot in the news this year having contributed so much to vaccines and she recorded that, "Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine." That she did that. So I think that's why she's in there. Oh yeah, no. After she got her a shot, she did a little version of "Jolene." I mean, I know Morrissey is a vegetarian because he's kind of pedantic about it, like he is about most things. And Paul McCartney I know is a vegetarian because he was on that episode of the Simpsons and he convinces Lisa Simpson to be a vegetarian. Bono just seems like he would be a vegetarian, like that'd be on brand for him.

Nora Ali: I'm trusting-

Alan Haburchak: I'm going to go with Morrissey. It feels like Morrissey was trying to be punk rock talking about slaughterhouse. That's what my gut tells me.

Nora Ali: Okay. That's our answers Scott. Morrissey, please.

Scott Rogowsky: Alan and Nora going Morrissey. I am the son. I am the heir of all wrong answers. It's Paul McCartney, Alan, Paul McCartney. Paul and of course his late wife, Linda, both animal rights activists. And that is a great little quote. That is very true. And Ethan Brown alluded to it. You don't want to go visit a slaughterhouse. You would not be pleased with what you saw. All right guys, you're zero for three. Nora, I'm just saying if you want a different co-contestant next time, holla at me, right? We had some other people here working for Morning Brew.

Nora Ali: It's not Alan. It's me. Like I think I'm the problem. I'm the common denominator here in the quizzes and we do tend to lose.

Scott Rogowsky: All righty then. Well that wraps up today's Quizness Casual. We love hearing from you, BC listeners. We're working on an episode about the business of child care in the US, specifically where it falls short. And we want to hear your thoughts. Are you a parent or caregiver or a child care professional? What has your experience been during the pandemic? Send us an email at businesscasual@morningbrew.com or DM us on Twitter @bizcasualpod, that's B-I-Z casual pod, with your thoughts.

Nora Ali: You can also leave a voice memo on our website, businesscasual.fm, or give us a ring and leave us an old fashion voicemail. Our number is 862-295-1135. As Business Casual grows, we are excited to get to know our listeners, old and new. Drop us a line and don't forget to leave your name and where you're calling or writing from so we can hear from you in a future episode.

Scott Rogowsky: Business Casual's produced from plants by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins. Additional production sound design and mixing by Daniel Markus. Alan Haburchak is director of audio at Morning Brew. Sarah Singer is our VP of multimedia and Jessica Coen is our chief content officer. Music in this episode from Daniel Markus and The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. If you like what you heard, please follow Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you go for ear candy. And we'd love it if you'd give us a great rating and a review.

Nora Ali: Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky.

Nora Ali: Keep it business.

Scott Rogowsky: And keep it casual.