We are working to reform the global human food system via three methods: getting the most impactful efforts the funding they need, helping key organizations set more strategic impact goals and be more effective in how they reach them, and facilitating research that fills key knowledge gaps. Here is a partial list of work we are involved with.
We are consulting for the Plant Based Foods Association, and work with the Humane Society of the United States, the Good Food Institute and myriad of other non-profits. We work in the areas of strategic planning, impact measurements, goal-setting around those measurements (see Being Effective), and funding.
We serve on the Animal Charity Evaluators Animal Advocacy Research Fund grants committee, the Plant Based World advisory council, and the Animal Agriculture Committee of Brooks Institute.
We are providing mentorship to startups through IndieBio, and provide a variety of support for plant-based food companies.
We advise some of the largest individual donors and philanthropic foundations in the space on the best leverage for their donations and grants with a goal of making sure the most impactful and strategically necessary work is funded.
CreAting an actionable model to reform the food system to be more healthy and sustainable
We are working on a plan, based on data and solid economic theory, of how plant-based products can replace animal agriculture, and what steps should be taken in what order to make that happen. This will take some time but we feel it is important to have.
Creating an incentive prize to speed the development of a plant-based chicken product that matches chicken on all measures
We are doing the groundwork to create an incentive prize program whose purpose is to remove obstacles to a plant-based chicken that matches chicken on taste, color, texture and mouthfeel, and can be scaled and commercialized as quickly as possible.
What research is needed to speed to market plant-based meat/dairy/fish/egg analogues that match aniMal products across all measures, and make them widely available to consumers?
We are examining this across many levels, from researching in what form products (such as species of fish or eggs) are in when they reach consumers to understand what type of analogue is needed, to looking at where research into unexplored protein sources and new production methods are needed, to what can be done to increase existing product accessibility by consumers in grocery and food service.
Are existing plant-based chicken and burger products generally acceptable to meat-eaters and flexitarians or is more research needed to create more acceptable products?
We conducted a taste test with roughly 100 chicken eaters and 100 beef burger eaters to determine if the top plant-based burgers and chickens rated similarly to actual burgers and chicken across a variety of measures.
Top line results were that each plant-based brand had its strengths and weaknesses but none of the plant-based chickens we tested rated as well as the actual chicken in the test. Only one of the burgers we tested did rate as well as a beef burger. This indicates that more research and development is needed for these products.
is there a need for more funding of political activities?
Government policies have a large impact on the profitability of one industry over another, and tend to favor entrenched interests even when those interests do not always serve the public good. We are looking into the ROI for political activities ranging from supporting political candidates, to lobbying for policies and legislation, to passage of voter initiatives, in order to determine if and where more funding is needed to strengthen these activities for the best outcome.
How can we reduce the cost of plant-based meats/dairy/fish?
We are surveying plant-based food producers to learn where innovation in ingredients, production methods, collective purchasing, or other methods would be most useful in reducing the cost of their products to consumers.
Looking at the term “plant-Based”
We conducted a study in conjunction with Faunalytics to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the term “plant-based” among different demographics in the US. and this study is not definitive in any way. But the key takeaways are:
• The term "plant-based" is overall neutral
• But the term “plant based” did poorly with men, especially young men. Vegan also did not do well with that group.
• The average person (at least in our sample) actually preferred the label “vegan" over "plant-based" (and over most other options we gave) when looking at the same photos of foods. That was a bit of a surprise and may reflect a mainstreaming of the term, and also that calling a food “vegan" is less charged then calling one’s self “a vegan".
• Older adults liked "zero cholesterol".
Here are the full results.
SHould public sampling of Plant-based foods be a major focus of advocates and donors?
We are researching the ROI on time and money spent on proving free samples of plant-based meats, eggs and dairy to consumers in places like grocery stores and other public locations. We have reason to believe that average consumers would not normally seek out these products, but once exposed, may use them to replace some portion of animal products in their diet.
Vegan "fast food" restaurants should be encouraged
Summary: Entrepreneurs inclined to be restauranteurs should be strongly encouraged and supported with investment and expertise to specifically launch fast food restaurants that do not overtly advertise themselves as such.