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How I Spotted— And Grabbed— The Huge Opportunity That Almost Everyone Else Missed

When Ethan Brown founded the plant-based protein company Beyond Meat in 2009, he knew he was on to something big, even if everyone around him thought he was crazy. Then Whole Foods and other grocery chains came calling. The massively successful IPO that Beyond Meat launched this May gave more proof that he just might have been right all along.

When I finished school, my dad asked me, “What do you want to do with your life?” I didn’t really know. So he asked, “Well, what’s the biggest problem facing the world?”

I said the climate. If we don’t get climate right, nothing else matters. So I got into energy, because that was the traditional way to attack that problem. I did that for years, and loved it.

My family had a farm, so I was familiar with agriculture. But when I started to look at the role that livestock played in climate, I was dumbfounded to find it was bigger than energy’s. At these big conferences, MBAs and engineers would go on and on about fuel cells, and then go out and have a steak.

Cows, chickens, and pigs consume tremendous amounts of vegetation and drink a ton of water, and then use their biological systems to build muscle that we harvest as meat. Any basic business course tells you to identify and get rid of bottlenecks in your production.

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July - August 2019