The founder of Impossible Foods says it is his mission to remove animals from the food system by 2035.
Pat Brown, who was a biomedical scientist at Stanford University before starting Impossible Foods, was speaking at the EAT Food Forum conference in Stockholm when he made the announcement.
According to Brown, it is imperative that animal agriculture comes to an end, because of the ‘catastrophic impact of animal-based foods’ on the environment.
Ending animal agriculture
“Our mission is to completely replace animals in the food system by 2035. You laugh but we are absolutely serious about it and it’s doable,” he told the conference.
“From the time the first super crappy low-resolution digital camera came on the market until Kodak basically shut down its film business was about 10 years. If you can make something that outperforms in delivering what consumers want the market can work fast.”
Speaking about the impact of animal ag on the planet, he added: “I realized the problem was the catastrophic environmental impact of the use of animals as a food technology. Nothing comes even remotely close.”
This is not the only time Brown has spoken publically about his mission. He first spoke about his major plans at a press briefing in 2017, announcing: “We want to completely replace animals as a food production technology by 2035. We are working on producing all foods that we get from animals.”
Impossible Foods Chief Communications officer Rachel Konrad added: “We’re not a burger company. We’re a tech platform for food. Our first product was ‘proof of concept’. We can have second, or tenth, products after that.”
Impossible Foods has had a huge year so far, launching version 2.0 of its plant-based patty several months ago. In April, it was revealed that fast-food giant Burger King would be using the patty in a meat-free version of its flagship sandwich The Whopper.
The Impossible Whopper features the same burger build as the store’s traditional beef-based option, replacing the patty with Impossible Foods’ plant-based patty. It also features tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise, pickles, and sliced white onions on sesame seed bun. Mayo can be removed to make the option free of animal ingredients.
The fast-food chain initially trialed the Impossible Whopper in 59 locations in and around St. Louis, Missouri. Now the brand has plans to make it available in more regions throughout the Summer, and nationally by the end of 2019.
Impossible Foods’ trajectory has not been without controversy; it describes its patty as plant-based rather than vegan because one of its ingredients – soy leghemoglobin aka ‘heme’ – was fed to rats in order to test its safety. In excess of 180 rats were killed as a result of the testing.
When the testing became public knowledge, Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown, a vegan of more than 16 years, published a statement titled The Agonizing Dilemma of Animal Testing.
In it, Brown said the core of his company’s mission is to ‘eliminate exploitation of animals in the food system’, as well as reduce the impact of animal agriculture on the environment.
“Among the thousands of animal species surveyed every decade by the World Wildlife Fund, the total number of living individual wild animals today is less than half what it was 40 years ago,” he wrote.
“This wildlife loss is overwhelmingly due to the exploitation of animals for food, including hunting, fishing and especially the replacement of wildlife habitat by animal farming.”