Toasted Earth

The Better Meat Co: Paul Shapiro

September 08, 2021 Michelle Cunningham Season 1 Episode 15
Toasted Earth
The Better Meat Co: Paul Shapiro
Show Notes Transcript

This episode features Paul Shapiro, the Co-Founder and CEO of The Better Meat Company. 

The Better Meat Co. offers cost-effective plant protein and mycoprotein formulations to seamlessly enhance or even replace meat production while improving nutrition, flavor and yield. Their clean, allergen-free protein ingredients blend effortlessly into ground beef, chicken, pork, turkey, fish and crab, reducing the amount of animal protein needed to produce them and creating a more sustainable product.

Paul is the author of the national bestseller, Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World and has published more than a hundred articles on food sustainability. He’s now on a journey to help flexitarians adopt more plant-based proteins with The Better Meat Company.

Michelle and Paul discuss how growing animals for food hugely contributes to climate change, why it's important to have meat alternatives and how The Better Meat Co. will reduce the amount of meat we consume in a way that's appealing to plant and meat lovers alike.

Relevant links:
https://www.bettermeat.co

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/toastedearth)

Michelle Cunningham:

Hello and welcome to the Toasted Earth Podcast, a show about founders, visionaries and environmentalists pursuing novel ideas in sustainability to, ultimately, save the earth. Im your host, Michelle Cunningham and for todays episode, we have Paul Shapiro, Co-Founder and CEO of The Better Meat Company. The Better Meat Co. offers cost-effective plant protein and mycoprotein formulations to seamlessly enhance or even replace meat production while improving nutrition, flavor and yield. Their clean, allergen-free protein ingredients blend effortlessly into ground beef, chicken, pork, turkey, fish and crab, reducing the amount of animal protein needed to produce them and creating a more sustainable product. Paul is the author of the national bestseller, Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World and has published more than a hundred articles on food sustainability. Hes now on a journey to help flexitarians adopt more plant-based proteins with The Better Meat Company.

Paul Shapiro:

I for my entire life, I've really cared about animals, I grew up with dogs in my house, I loved them very much. And around age 13, I learned about how animals are treated in factory farms and in slaughter plants. And that led me to him very sensitive to their plate. And it also led me to learn about the fact that raising animals for food is just one of the biggest causes of deforestation, wildlife extinction, animal cruelty, pandemic risk, antibiotic resistance, and more. There's so many problems that are associated with raising animals for food. And basically, the planet's just not getting any bigger. You know, humanity's footprint on the planet is getting a lot bigger, but the planet itself isn't getting any bigger. And, you know, if we took a look at the footprint that humanity leaves on the planet, primarily, it's not primarily but one of the biggest ways is through our food print. Basically, how much meat we eat just takes a lot of land a lot of water, a lot of greenhouse gas emissions to raise animals for food. And so I became very concerned because you know, today there's nearly 8 billion of us walking around. And within the next 30 years, there's going to be another 2 billion of us added to the planet, if you know, presuming there's no catastrophe that occurs between now and then. And how are we going to feed them? You know, like the like, we're not going to be forming the moon, we're not going to be forming Mars, we only have one celestial body that we are destroying right now. And how are we gonna feed all these people? And so the only way I think that we can do it is if we reduce our reliance on animals for food. And so I wrote a book on this topic. It's called clean meat, how growing meat without animals will revolutionize dinner in the world that really chronicles the entrepreneurs, the investors and the scientists who are working to commercialize the world's first real meat that is slaughter free meat that's grown from animal cells, as opposed to from animal slaughter. And after writing that book, I had the decision as to whether I wanted to continue to write about the people who I thought would save the world or simply to become one of them myself. And so I chose the latter. That's how The Better Meat Co. was founded. And so a lot more to talk about. But that's the kind of lengthy way of describing how I got to where I am right now.

Michelle Cunningham:

Well, that's awesome that you decided to jump in and go for it. But you were talking before about with your book, it was about growing the meat, like kind of taking cells in it and then generating the meat from that rather than raising the whole animal. But The Better Meat Co. is using plants, correct?

Paul Shapiro:

Yeah, we use both plants and fungi, which are different kingdoms. But yes, so you know, look at it like this, Michelle. So I think about like, the problem of fossil fuels. It's so bad, it's so severe, you want lots of alternatives, right? You want wind, you want solar, you want geothermal? Well, the problem with factory farming of animals is also so bad, you want lots of alternatives. So you want some that are growing real meat from animal cells. You want others that are turning plants into things that look like meat, you want microbial fermentation to make meat like foods, you want hybrids, just like we have hybrid cars that combine both animal and plant proteins together. And you also just want people maybe just to eat fewer meat type experiences. So you know, eating bean and rice burritos and lentil soup and hummus, those are all great things to do to so you don't have to just mimic the taste of meat. But lots of people want meat, you know, meet demand is rising, not falling. And so we need to do something to get this and I really believe that most people want meat but not necessarily slaughter that most people eat meat, not because the animals were slaughtered for it. But really in spite of that fact. So I think a bit kind of like flicking a light switch. When you turn a light switch on on a room, you probably don't even contemplate whether it's coming from fossil fuel or whether it's coming from renewable. You just want the experience of an illuminated room. That's it. And when you eat meat, most of the time, you're not thinking Oh, I'm so glad an animal was slaughtered for this. You probably aren't thinking about that at all. And if you could be delivered the same experience that is as satiating and pleasurable to you. that you get from me today without having to raise and slaughter animals, you probably would prefer that.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I know I would. I don't want to think about that, what happened to that animal. It's just sounds awful. But like, we could give a really hard ask to everyone saying just eat more plants, like just don't eat, you know, like, just forget about the meat, like you don't need it, eat more salads. Why is it important that we don't do that? Will people just not adopt it because it's too different from their current lifestyle?

Paul Shapiro:

I would be thrilled Michelle, if people would do it. I mean, I love eating, again being on rice, burritos and hummus and everything else. And so I'm really thrilled for more people to do that. The problem is they're not, they're not eating less meat, they're eating more meat. Meat consumption is going up right now in the United States, in China, and India, and Brazil, and Mexico and all the places is going to matter the most in the future, meat consumption is going up. And that's because people want me pretty much you know, meat, high meat, high rates of meat consumption are associated with a lot of wealth, right. So the richer countries eat more meat, the poor countries eat less meat. But as poorer countries start opening up a middle class, like in China and India, where people are escaping poverty and joining the middle class, one of the very first things that people want to do is start eating more meat. And that's great for those people that they're now joining the middle class and getting out of poverty. But it means they're having a much, much bigger impact on the planet, more greenhouse gas emissions, more deforestation, and so on. And so the question is, can we feed those people the type of meat that they're craving, and feed ourselves the type of fruit that we too are craving, without having to raise animals for it. And so I wish that people would be content to just get being in rice burritos. Sadly, it doesn't seem less of what most humans want to do. Most of the time, it seems like people eat about as much meat as they can afford. And even people who will say logically, I know it is not right to do this still end up doing it anyway. Because facts and evidence, typically are not what changed our behavior. Typically, there's something else that's happening. And so if we could have them in the same way of you know, for electric vehicles, today, we're cheaper than internal combustion engine vehicles, we'd all be driving them, all of us would be driving them. And so if we could get alternative meat to really taste like animal meat and be cost competitive, I think that's the pathway to solving this problem.

Michelle Cunningham:

Well, tell me about the current plant-based meat market, what's out there? How are people reacting to it?

Paul Shapiro:

Sure. Well, there's several generations. So if you think about Michelle, like the very first time in human history that there's a still extent recorded recipe for plant based meat was more than 1000 years ago in China. And you then fast forward to the 19th century where john Harvey Kellogg of Kellogg's filed the first ever patent for plant based meat in 1899, and he got the patent, then you fast forward around another 75 or 80 years. And now you've got companies like tofurkey, and lightlife, that are creating kind of meat like products that are satiating for vegetarians, but they're not fooling meat eaters into thinking that it's actual animal meat, then you get up to today, and you've got companies like impossible foods and beyond meat, which are using plants to actually mimic the taste and texture of real animal meat. And so most of those companies are basing their products on either wheat, Pea, or soy, or some combination thereof. Those are the three crops that are most commonly used to make plant based meat. However, what you'll notice about all three of those is that they're plants. And yet, there's an entirely other kingdom. So you've got plants, and you've got animals, and they're very far apart. evolutionarily. It's hard to get plants to taste like animals. But there's a whole other Kingdom called fungi, that is not in the middle of these two, it's like right by animals. In fact, fungi are so much closer to animals and plants that like us, they breathe in oxygen and breathe out co2. Like us, they have to go find their food and digest it, unlike plants, which just put themselves in the sun and use photosynthesis. So it's not surprising that mushrooms have for centuries been used as a meat substitute in Asian cuisine, because mushrooms have a much more animal like texture to their own flesh as why mushrooms are much more neat to like than our plants. And so at The Better Meat Co. what we are doing is pioneering a new category of alternative meat that isn't based not just on plants, but also use fungi fermentation to create products that really have a much meatier experience for the consumer than do plant protein isolettes.

Michelle Cunningham:

I'm noticing behind you, there's a painting on the wall behind him of some mushrooms and is that on purpose?

Paul Shapiro:

We are fungi fanatics here Michelle at The Better Meat Co., we love fungi, I really believe that fungi are playing a critical role in efforts to try to save the world. Whether it's remediating toxic waste, whether it is creating meat alternatives, whether it's even doing things to, for example, digest plastics that we can make them biodegradable. There are there's a whole world of fungi out there that are just waiting to help us have a better relationship with the planet. For so long. fungi were just considered like plants. You know, there weren't in biology departments. They didn't even treat it as a different kingdom. They just treated them like plants, but they're not plants, they're their own kingdom with extremely different biologies than plants. And they're being used for a whole variety of purposes now increasingly to do things to reduce humanity's footprint on the planet, in our case to help reduce our need to exploit animals, and instead just being able to harness the power of fungi fermentation, and create products that really do look and taste like meat, like what we're doing as an example is we take starchy ingredients like potatoes, feed them into a fermenter, where our microscopic fungi consume them. And just like a cow converts grass into steaks, our little microscopic fungi are converting those potatoes into a high protein, succulent meat like food in less than a day. You know, it takes the cow more than a year before you slaughter her. Well, it takes our fungi less than one day in order to convert into something that we can harvest and then use as a meat substitute.

Michelle Cunningham:

I'm so curious about this, it sounds a lot like brewing beer. So like a process like that, what comes out of it?

Paul Shapiro:

So you know, Michelle, if you walked into The Better Meat Co.'s facility in Sacramento, it would, you would probably think it was a beer brewery facility. And that's what they're doing. They're fermenting yeast, we're not fermenting yeast. But interestingly, yeast is a member of the fungi family is of the fungi Kingdom rather, so but we're using a different type of fungi than yeast. And basically, what comes out is a thick product that has a lot of moisture in it, we then squeeze the water out. And then it looks like raw chicken. So basically, if you imagine like turning on the faucet, and this, like a material is coming out, that's kind of viscous, you squeeze out the water. And now we've got something that really looks like chicken, and your viewers will not be able to or your listeners rather will not be able to see what you are about to become a viewer of Michelle. But if you go to The Better Meat Co. website, you can see this, but I'll show you here, this is really what it looks like when it comes out of the fermenter. So you can see there, it's really just like ground chicken. So if you go to bettermeat.co, again, bettermeat.co you can see this, and then we turn that into products like this. And so it looks really like a steak and you can make crab cakes, you make fish sticks, you can make chicken nuggets, and you can make six that really do look fantastic. And it's hard to tell them apart from animal meat.

Michelle Cunningham:

Is the one that you just showed me, was that 100% your product? Or is it mixed with meat? Because I know you do both, right?

Paul Shapiro:

Yeah, so we're an ingredients company. So to first answer your question that's 100%. animal free what you just saw. Now, yeah, so what we do is we sell ingredients, plant proteins and fungi proteins that we sell to food companies that they can use either to make their own plant based meat, or that they can blend into their own meat products as well. So they can use fewer animals. So in the same way that you know you have hybrid cars, for example, because not everybody is going to go electric right now you have hybrid cars to help people reduce their the amount of gas that they're using. We offer our products to meat companies so they can reduce the number of animals they're using as well.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, okay. Well tell me about your customers, what types of companies are coming to you buying this?

Paul Shapiro:

Sure. Well, you know, let's just talk about the blending as an example. So, Perdue Farms, such as a major chicken company, they have a product that is 50% Chicken 50%, plant based, it's a nugget, it's called Perdue Chicken Plus, we sell them ingredients for that product. And essentially what they do is sell that in 7000 grocery stores. It's been named by the Food Network is the best tasting frozen chicken nugget in America. And it's now grown from 0% of produce nugget sales to 20% of their Naga sales. So no matter how many fewer chickens they need, when they're 20% of their nuggets are only 50% chicken. So it's a pretty big deal to do this. And I view what Perdue is doing is basically like saying that they recognize that they're a protein company, not just a meat company. And in the future, I really think that there will be more and more of this type of hybridization. After all, you know, the former CEO of Tyson Foods, while he was CEO said if we could, if we could sell meat without having to raise the animals, why wouldn't we do it? And I think that's a really illustrative point. And that these companies want to create a meat experience for their customers. They don't necessarily need to raise and slaughter animals to do it. It's kind of like if you think about the photography wars back in the 1990s, where Kodak and Canon were vying for supremacy in the print film market. And they both knew about digital film, but Kodak was very concerned about it. And so they tried to suppress it because they thought it would cannibalize their business and their business was selling negatives and print film and so on. Well, canon knew that it would cannibalize its business, but they thought that this was the future so they embraced it. And we all know what happened. Kodak went bankrupt, and Canon now is the largest manufacturer of digital cameras on the planet. They still are selling us the same thing, a way to capture our memories. The experience is similar, right? We're still getting a way to capture our memories, but it's done in a far more efficient way. Similarly, these companies that today are meat companies can become protein companies of the future and continue to sell us the meat experience that does the same thing for us, except it's just produced in a far more efficient way.

Michelle Cunningham:

How are customers reacting to this type of mixture of like part meat and part something else, well your case, like, you know, the product that you're fermenting? It reminds me of, you know, your kid in in middle school, and you go down the lunch line, and they give you some like meatloaf. And you're like, oh, is this really meat? You know, like, is that a thing that actually comes to people's mind? Are they realizing that this is a very natural product? And like, it's not some weird thing?

Paul Shapiro:

It's better, it's just better. So think about it like this. Michelle mentioned that you go to Jamba Juice, and they say to you, hey, do you want to boost your smoothie with hemp seeds, or macho or whatever else, right, and you say, Yeah, you're gonna pay more to get those things added in, because you view it not as getting less smoothly, if you're just getting a better smoothie, right. And so those are ingredients that you value so much that it enhances the value so much that you will actually pay more for it. Well, meats on its own just isn't that great? A solely meat product, for example, has no fiber whatsoever, whereas plants do. So no meat products as any fiber. So think about it like this, neither you nor anybody you know, is protein deficient. For virtually everybody in america is gets way more protein than we need. However, nearly all of us more than 90% of us are fiber deficient. We don't get enough fiber. And the problems associated with fiber deficiency are huge. They are not just constipation, but colon cancer, and so on. Right, really serious problems. Well, there's no fiber and meats at all, fiber is only in plants. Why? Because animals have skeletons. That's what holds us up. Whereas plants don't have skeleton, so they have fiber, and that's what holds them up. So why would you choose a product that is solely meat when you could actually get a hybridized product that has fiber in it? And that tastes just as good if not better? But it's better for you. So that's the real difference is that, you know, I would look at products that are solely meat is actually inferior to products that are enhanced with plant protein and plant fiber.

Michelle Cunningham:

Do people get that though? Like, like, are they realizing that as they're buying the food or do you have to educate them?

Paul Shapiro:

Well, there's two things, if you look at Perdue, what they tell people is, Hey, you know, you, let's say you're a mom, and you have a kid and your kid won't eat their veggies, well eat these chicken nuggets, and you get a quarter cup of syrup, you get a quarter cup servings of vegetables per serving of chicken nugget. That's not that bad. You know, if you can't get your kids to eat their veggies. Alternatively, you could just focus on the fact that this is meat. But it gets the best of both worlds and has less saturated fat, less cholesterol, fewer calories, and more fiber. So you can look at it like that, like either getting hidden veggies in your diet, or you can look at it in terms of having a product that's nutritionally superior with specific call outs on those things. Or you can say nothing. You know, we have some customers who just put us in as our cost reduction technique, and they don't say anything. And that's fine, too. I mean, you of course, if you look at the ingredient deck, you're going to see it but it's not necessarily in front of package claim.

Michelle Cunningham:

Okay, so it depends on the company and how they want to market it. I mean, I totally relate to the hiding vegetables thing. I do it with my son, but you know, buying things that have vegetables in it, he doesn't know he's like, Oh, this tastes good. Tater tot. Really, it's like, carrots, cauliflower.

Paul Shapiro:

That's so funny, quick, cool piece of food trivia for you. I recently learned that the term tatertot does not just refer to a special shape of potato, but it's actually a trademarked term by one particular potato company. And that anybody else who's not that company, who wants to have something that looks like that cannot call it a tater tot, they can call it like a potato puff. They can call it other things. But tatertot is specific to one company isn't that interesting?

Michelle Cunningham:

I had no idea. There's like so many restaurants that sell tater tots.

Paul Shapiro:

I don't know what the deal was. Maybe they're buying it from that company. I don't know. But it's kind of like, it's like Kleenex or Xerox. You know?

Michelle Cunningham:

They kind of mess with the names a little bit too. It'll be like "tots" something. Like maybe just because they're not saying the full name?

Paul Shapiro:

Yeah, well, I'm sure that they don't have a trademark on tots. So yeah. That's how they get away with it.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, that's probably true. Well, I'd love to talk to you a little bit about the impact that The Better Meat Company is having? Are you guys able to measure that? Can you tell how much meat you're avoiding making it out into the market?

Paul Shapiro:

Well, certainly hundreds of thousands of animals worth of meat are being displaced by our total business. But it's hard for us to know exactly one because some of it is behind like a veil, where we don't really know what the like what type of proportions that companies are doing. And then to on the impact in terms of like how much less land to use and so on. We have not conducted a full scale lifecycle analysis largely because we are a small startup and just that those type of things cost a lot to do but we are going to do it. And it's really important to us the entire purpose of our company is to improve sustainability. Like you know, our mission is to reduce humanity's footprint on the planet. So, we we should measure that at some point when it becomes was more affordable to do that type of lifecycle analysis. But we know that our I mean, our production takes up a minuscule sliver of the land and water needed to raise animals for food for sure.

Michelle Cunningham:

And you touched on it a little bit earlier, but would love to like dive in a bit deeper on the impact of growing meat in general, how does it contribute to climate change?

Paul Shapiro:

Sure. Well, according to the United Nations, animal agriculture globally, contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector, more than all cars, all planes, all trans all boats, all combined. animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gases. So it's not just greenhouse gas emissions, though, it's also a leading driver of deforestation, wildlife extinction, biodiversity loss, and more. It's just a gigantic portion of the Earth's non frozen landmass is utilized by either raising animals for food, or growing crops to feed animals for food. And it's a lot more efficient for us simply to eat those crops ourselves than to funnel them through animals who are extremely inefficient at converting them into meat. And so this is an issue where it's tough, because, you know, a lot of people want to do the right thing, or a lot of people who are environmentalists, I certainly count myself as one of them. You know, we want to do the right thing. But it conflicts with this seemingly innate desire to enjoy meat, which, you know, as good as across most human cultures. So the question then becomes like, Alright, this thing that we really like doing is really bad for the planet. Should we either try to persuade people not to do it or give them a way to do it that doesn't cause so much damage. And I think by offering non animal meat like experiences, we end up satiating that desire that people have,

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, it gives them an option, right? I mean, I think it would be great if everyone just decided to eat plants for all their meals. But I even like myself, I'm not even a full vegetarian, you know. And I and I care. So like, asking everyone to do that is really, really hard. But yeah, giving options.

Paul Shapiro:

You're a perfect example, Michelle, you're somebody who cares so much about the planet that you've devoted a whole podcast that you have launched to it. And yet, you still would say, Well, I still eat meat every once in a while. Well, it just shows how hard it is. It's not to say that it can't be done. There's lots of people who are vegetarian or vegan for decades. It's awesome. But you know, you know, we have to just keep we have to play the cards as they're dealt. And a lot of people want to meet, you know, the kind of like, imagine if environmentalist were just to try to persuade people Oh, no, don't drive, just walk, just walk or bicycle. Okay, like, that's awesome. I wish more people would walk and bike actually, that'd be great. But I'm pretty glad that people were making both hybrid and electric cars, because I think a lot of people still want to drive.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, yeah. It's just really hard to make such drastic changes, I think, to your lifestyle. I am hoping though, that I can do a little bit better in the meat department. Over time, try it and trying to like slowly switch over to like, Oh, I have this option or that option. Okay, I'm going to go with the the vegetarian or vegan one and try it out.

Paul Shapiro:

Well, I'll tell you something, Michelle. Here's a shameless self serving plug. My wife is a plant based cookbook author. And so you should check out some of her cookbooks. They're really good. Her name is Tony Okamoto, and her latest book is called the friendly vegan. So check out the friendly vegan. It's her latest cookbook, and maybe it'll be useful for you.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, I will have to check it out. I did do. Okay, so this was a full vegan because I was still eating some meat. But when I was breastfeeding, my son, he had a dairy allergy. So I had to do a lot of like, almost vegan things because I couldn't eat any any dairy. So I ended up doing some recipes. And they were like, they were good. You know, certainly I could do that and be like happy doing it. I think it's like all of the the other things about like, like going out to eat with other people and like things like that, that make some of these transitions harder. But at least now we're starting to get way more options. Like even at restaurants, like the vegan things are called out. And you have like you mentioned the impossible burgers and things like that. So yeah, yeah, I think the more options we can get the better.

Paul Shapiro:

Yeah, so first, I'm in agreement with you totally Michelle. And I would say the following. Like it's not about perfection, right? You don't need to try to strive for to be perfect. If you know, you might want to have a rule that's like, hey, when I'm at home, I'm going to eat plant based and if I go out to a restaurant, not going to beat myself up, if they don't have anything to get right that I would just get something else. So you could do for example, what Mark Bittman the cookbook author does, he has a thing where he calls that vegan before six. So before 6pm he eats vegan after 6pm eats whatever he wants. I know one person who is vegan Monday through Friday, on weekends, he eats anything that he wants. You could do meatless Mondays, you could do another thing which is which I call both vegan before 6pm and after 6pm so you just you know eat vegan, but you know, it's not about preventing Like one of the problems I see is that many people who think about vegan eating think about it as like this all or nothing thing. Well, it doesn't need to be all or nothing, right, like cutting down on the amount of meat that we eat and enjoying more plant based meals is good in and of itself. And we can always strive to do better, we can always strive for continuous improvement, but we shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And we should continue to try to do better in all areas of our lives, both our diet, and otherwise. I know for myself, you know, my wife, and I have one car that we split a hybrid. And, you know, we, you know, used to have we used to each have our own car. Now we have one car, so yeah, I think that's better. So, you know, there's just, um, I don't think that we should let this like impossible standard of constant perfection hold us up from trying to actually do better.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, I totally agree. If you try to be perfect, it's almost too daunting to even make the attempt. When you make small changes it's, it's much I think, easier to get into it. And then you realize, okay, I did that I can do like a little bit more, you know, and maybe maybe people will move closer to the the full aspect of it. But yeah, I would love to hear a little bit about where you see The Better Meat Co. going. Like, what's next for you guys?

Paul Shapiro:

Sure. Well, in Sacramento, we have built a micro protein fermentation facility that we can produce, you know, basically r&d amounts, right. So we can produce like, you know, 1000s of pounds a month. But we can't produce hundreds of 1000s of pounds a month, which is really what we need to do. So the next step for us is to go out and raise a series a round that will enable us to build a full scale plant that will be able to generate the type of river of Miko protein to flow through the food industry that will help food companies reduce their reliance on animals. And so that's what we're gonna we're designing that next full scale facility now, and we can't wait to get started on the construction of it.

Michelle Cunningham:

Oh, that's awesome. What are the challenges to do that? It sounds like a cool, like, not just environmental challenge, but like business challenge, like how do you how do you scale this thing?

Paul Shapiro:

Yeah, there's a lot of challenges. You know, I joke around that, when you start your own company, you will sleep like a baby, because you will wake up every two hours and cry. And so that is like, really how I feel the challenges are endless. You know, it's not surprising to me, I, you know, I cofounded The Better Meat Co , about three and a half yea s ago. And it's not surprising o me that startups have such hi h mortality rates, you kno , there's like, 90% mortality f r startups. And it's n t surprising to me why there s just so many things go wron , it's very hard to do. Howeve , you know, all companies th t survive ended up, you kno , going through that very perilo s phase where your startup a d you're at risk of perishing, a d I think we're doing pretty wel . But the big challenges before s not only are raising the capit l needed to build a full sca e plant, but that also means th t you need to, you know, work wi h local authorities, and we' e building something here th t we're trying to compete on co t of meat, so we need to build t at scale. That means having a fermenter like the size of n office building, so you got o find the right place, you got o work with authorities to get t permitted. And you need o create a whole supply cha n necessary to feed into th t fermenter you know, most of t e time, like, you know, you lo k at like, you know, we're n t talking about like a microbrewery here we're talki g about, like, you know, t e equivalent of like an Anheus r Busch brewery. So we got a l t to do, we got a lot to do. A d we're looking forward to taki g on that challenge. My bigge t concern is just whether we c n do it fast enough to make t e dent before it's too late. Y u know, the planet is literally n fire. And we are just, you kno , the ship is sinking. So I m concerned about how quickly e can actually start making a de t in the problems that we' e seeking to alleviate, and I m just working fast to try to ma e it happe

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, where do you see your company fitting into making that dent? Like there's this. I mean, what we have like a global carbon budget like this, this huge problem? Like, how do you see yourself fitting into like being a big contributor to that.

Paul Shapiro:

We want the planet to look different from space, because of our work. One of the the driving force for deforestation, whether it's in the Amazon or elsewhere, is typically raising animals for food. And so we want to see more green on the planet, when you look at down from the International Space Station. Because we have so many fewer animals who are being raised her food. That's our goal, and we're working toward it. We know we have a long way to go. But I know that Michelle, you are a long distance runner. And so I'll say you know, every marathon begins with single steps and we've got a lot of miles left to go, but we're walking and pretty soon we're going to be running.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, that's awesome. I love the way that you're thinking about that. Like that's cool to look down at the earth and be like, okay, this looks different because we tried this thing and we kept at it until it worked.

Unknown:

Yeah, we will, we will keep hitting our heads against the wall until the wall breaks, I promise you that.

Michelle Cunningham:

I really think that is how like successful businesses and missions happen is you just, you can't give up. You just like keep going, despite all the challenges in front of you,

Paul Shapiro:

I can guarantee you, Michelle, we will never give up to quote the very erudite and learned philosopher, Rocky Balboa, he said that in life, it is not about how hard you can hit it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. And that is how winning is done. And that's what we're trying to do. You know, look, there's always challenges, you're always going to get hit, you're always going to fall down. The question is, do you get back up? Do you keep moving forward and try keep trying to make a difference in the world? And that's what The Better Meat Co. is seeking to do.

Michelle Cunningham:

Well, how can we in our listeners help you?

Paul Shapiro:

Well, first and foremost, they're welcome you to visit our website, which again is bettermeat.co. And so if ou're in the food industry, e'd love to hear from you. So e can be helpful for you and elp you reduce your own ootprint by switching away from nimals and toward more of these lants and mycoprotein. So that ill be one. The second is if ou want to learn more about his space, you can not only isit our website betterm at.co. But you can also check o t my book, which is called c ean meat, you can buy it a ywhere that you buy books, but t e official website for the b ok is clean meat.com. Again, t at's clean, meats calm. And it w uld be wonderful for you to g t involved in this space. M ybe you want to start your own c mpany, maybe you want to join a company, maybe you want to i vest in one of these c mpanies. We want to hear from y u though, because I'd love to h lp you navigate these waters a d get you more involved in the a ternative protein space so t at in the future, it won't be s alternative. In fact, it'll b mainstream.

Michelle Cunningham:

Well, before we sign off, we like to end every episode with the toast to the earth. What do you hope for our planet's future?

Paul Shapiro:

What I hope is that humanity's relationship with the rest of the planet will be no longer one that is based just on violence and domination, but rather will be based on compassion and respect. For too long, we have treated the rest of the planet including nearly every single other species as being either irrelevant or exploitable. I think that we should stop viewing our fellow creatures on this planet as mere commodities who can be exploited for any purpose that one species wants to exploit them for. And instead, view them as really our kin and view them in a way that treats them with the type of compassion and respect that they deserve. That is my hope and my toast for the planet.

Michelle Cunningham:

Thanks for listening to the show today. If you love this show, please leave us a review wherever you listen to podcasts. You can learn more about The Better Meat Company by visiting bettermeat.co thats b-e-t-t-e-r-m-e-a-t dot c-o or visit our show notes at toastedearth.com for more links and details about this episode. If youre currently working on an idea, company, non-profit or movement to benefit the environment, send us an email at hello@toastedearth.com, we would love to hear from you. Raise a glass to the earth everyone, its the only one weve got.