The year vegan junk food went mainstream

The ubiquity of the Beyond Burger is part of one of 2018’s best movements: the mass proliferation of vegan junk food. Democracy may be crumbling around us, but it was a banner year for delicious processed food that just so happens to be meat- and dairy-free.

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The year vegan junk food went mainstream - Food

In the middle of November, Beyond Meat — a company that makes plant-based meat substitutes — announced it was going public on the Nasdaq stock exchange to better raise money for “the future of protein.” (“The future of protein” is also its tagline; “the future” is made primarily of peas.) Beyond Meat’s best-known product to date is the vegetable-based Beyond Burger, which is like a regular meat burger but Beyond.

Unlike its competitors — Gardein, which sells a menagerie of non-meat meats; Tofurky, famous for its bulbous imitation poultry; Field Roast, which does fake meat in wholesome packaging; and Morningstar Farms, maker of “America’s #1 Veggie Burger” — Beyond Meat is aiming not just to capture the hearts and minds of vegetarians but to win over people who eat actual hamburgers. It wants to be sold “where meat-loving consumers are accustomed to shopping for center-of-plate proteins,” according to the prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You can find it in “approximately 11,000” grocery stores across the US, which is more than a quarter of them.