Meat & Seafood (Without the Animal)

Eating well is a basic right.

Yet, 1.1 billion people will go to bed hungry tonight. 2.1 billion, mostly women and children, live their days deficient in the micronutrients that promote cognitive development and prevent disease. And 6.5 billion, including most of the folks reading this, eat food that weakens our bodies, degrades the planet, and doesn’t reflect who we are. The food system is unjust.

Our mission is to build a food system where everyone is eating well.

Eating well means eating food that nourishes our bodies. Eating food that strengthens the planet. Eating food that tastes exceptionally good — and is accessible to everyone.

If a decision — from technologies developed to products launched — increases the probability of achieving this mission in our lifetimes, we’ll do it. If a decision decreases that probability, we won’t. That’s our operating principle, whether privately held or publicly traded. It’s the common thread running through everything we do. It’s important that we’re clear: we will make decisions differently than others because of this approach.

Here’s what we’re doing to make it happen:

1. Scale discovery

Healthier and sustainable food must bring superior sensory experiences, more efficient distribution, and more affordable prices to everyone. We’re not making food for health-conscious, well-off customers. The right choice needs to be preferred by everyone.

Today, saturated fat, sodium, processed sugar, and confined animals are limiting customer choice — making the wrong choice far too easy for 99% of the world. There’s another way: most of the world’s 353,000 plant species are unexplored. Collectively, they make up 18 billion proteins, 108 million fats, and 4 million carbohydrates. These natural tools in grains, legumes, and other flowering plants have the potential to eliminate processed sugar, saturated fats, and sodium and bring sustainable protein and nutrient-density to the food system. They can significantly improve the flavor and texture of food in your refrigerator and street markets in developing countries. And if efficiently distributed, a protein discovery in one bean (for example) can improve multiple billion-dollar food categories, potentially improving how hundreds of millions eat in the next decade.

We’ve already sourced diverse plants from over 51 countries, with more added to our library weekly. First, we started analyzing their protein content by hand. Now, we’re building our automated discovery platform — using robotics and machine learning — to explore their potential faster. The more data we gather, the more we’ll discover proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in plants that will improve the food system.

As our hit rate accelerates, we’ll continue applying these plants to our current and new product categories, including eggs, butter, shortening, milk, baked goods, pasta, condiments, snacks, and micronutrient-rich products for billions of people in developing countries.

2. Expand discovery to meat and seafood

As we researched more of the functional potential of plants, we’ve found that they can do even more: they can enable animal cells to grow sustainably and efficiently.

At current rates, production of meat and seafood around the world will double to 1.2 trillion pounds by 2050. Our planet cannot afford to supply the water, fuel, pesticides, and fertilizer that industrialized animal production requires. It can’t afford the polluted water or the biodiversity loss. It can’t afford the moral inconsistencies.

We think it’s unlikely that families in Alabama (or anywhere in the world) will consistently choose plant-based alternatives over chicken, beef, pork, and seafood. And when you’re talking animal protein, higher unit volume and accordingly lower prices will necessarily mean industrialized animal production. There’s no conventional way around this math.

Our mission requires a solution to these economic and cultural realities. So, over the past year, we’ve started the early work of expanding our platform to solve the technical challenges of scalable clean meat. Clean meat and seafood are made from cells instead of live, confined animals.

Here’s how:

Meat and seafood are primarily a combination of muscle and fat cells. They require nutrients to grow, whether inside an animal or in a clean facility. And the main limiting factor in scaling clean meat has been providing cells with a sustainable and economical source of nutrients required for cell growth. Our methodology of discovery (material isolation, assays, and discovery output) is the same whether we’re finding a plant to replace dairy in butter or a plant to feed cells for clean and sustainable meat and seafood.

With plants providing nutrients for animal cells to grow, we believe we can produce meat and seafood that is over 10x more efficient than the world’s highest volume slaughterhouse (a 1,000,000-square foot facility in Tar Heel, N.C.). All this without confining or slaughtering a single animal and with a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions and water use. Despite the challenges in front of us, from biocompatible scaffolds and bioreactor design to scaling production, that’s where we’re headed.

Imagine choosing between a similarly priced pound of clean high-grade bluefin tuna belly or conventional tilapia from underwater traps. Or clean A5 Kobe beef versus conventional sirloin (corn-fed and confined). Our approach will be transparent and unquestionably safe, free of antibiotics and have a much lower risk of foodborne illness. The right choice will be obvious.

3. Enable others

We also know this: our team can’t build a more just food system alone.

The global market for processed food is made up of 52 categories, covering 150 subcategories, worth $2.3 trillion. Building a healthy and sustainable food system, across this massive and complex market, requires partnerships — some of them unexpected.

We’ve started the process of licensing our discoveries to the world’s largest food manufacturers and, in the years ahead, we’ll do the same with the world’s largest meat and seafood companies. Our interest is large-scale, permanent adoption of healthy and sustainable food.

We’re also building a platform that enables thousands of food companies to bring our discoveries (filtered by category and sourcing location) to their products. For example: a single protein from a legume found in Asia can enable the texture needed for ice cream and pasta, or emulsification for soups.

And in the next two years, we’ll be open-sourcing our plant discoveries to empower entrepreneurs who commit to using the data for good.

4. Share the story

Building a more just food system requires understanding that food is emotional; it’s cultural. It can literally make us homesick or make us feel right at home. And even more than cars or smartphones, it’s deeply woven into all of our identities. It also requires understanding that despite our faults and absurdities, people are mostly good. And all things being equal, people will do the right thing. These facts will be as true in 30 years as they are today.

We didn’t learn the identity of our brand from some poll or survey result. It flows from intuition and life experiences and an obsession to understand the world through the eyes of others, whether that be a church-going mother in Welch, West Virginia or a 12-year-old student in Monrovia, Liberia. This reality guides our commitment to make culturally relevant products, share authentic stories about families in every community, and bring Just products to more people through the most efficient means possible.

5. Preserve the mission

Ensuring that our team maintains its ability to direct our mission is as critical as the platforms we scale and the products we launch. Our corporate governance structure is designed to preserve this autonomy, and through it, the integrity of our long-term mission.

This is how we’ll strengthen the planet, provide healthier food to lower-income families, and build a world where everyone is eating well. Along the way, we need to remember that our relationship with food is deep-rooted. Enabling others (sometimes for free) is essential if we’re serious about large-scale, permanent change. Most importantly, we should never forget: most of us are good, and we need to build a food system that reflects who we are.

In short, here’s the 5-point plan:

1. Scale discovery
2. Expand to meat and seafood
3. Enable others
4. Share the story
5. Preserve the mission

Everyone eats well.