His "chicken" has no fat, no steroids, no hormones, no antibiotics. It's gluten-free. All it has is vegetable protein. A mixture consisting of mostly soy and pea powder, carrot fiber and gluten-free flour is subjected to heat, cold and pressure, then extruded into strips. The process, says Brown, "takes plant proteins and re-aligns them to mimic the appearance and the mouth-feel of animal proteins." Two professors at the University of Missouri worked on it for 10 years. Brown has an exclusive license.
So convincing is the faux chicken that it fooled Mark Bittman, food columnist for the New York Times.
And it's selling...
In San Francisco, where so many food trends start, fake chicken is flying out the door. At Whole Foods in the Haight-Ashbury, a week's supply of the new meat-substitute, called Beyond Meat, sold out in two days. Nor was that an isolated case. Other Whole Foods in the city are reporting the same phenomenon.
"We're a little taken aback," says the chain's Northern California coordinator for prepared foods, Mathew Mestemacher. "The response is overwhelming."
In Los Angeles, Ashley Wilson calls the fake fowl amazing. The 27-year old video editor says she has been eating vegan for three years and knows every meat substitute on the market. Complains she, "I've eaten a lot of fake meats, and you can always taste the science." This new one is different. "It's clean; there's no weird, processed taste." The texture, too, is correct: pulled apart, it's stringy—like chicken. She intends to recommend it to her meat-eating friends.