Nutrition in the News: Beyond Meat is Beyond in Trouble


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Beyond Meat is Beyond in Trouble

One of the first companies to popularize vegan burgers that actually looked and tasted like red meat, Beyond Meat’s meteoric rise to plant-based fame may be coming to an end.

From its founding in 2009 to going public in 2019—at one point, it was valued at over $10 billion—recent news stories have called out Beyond Meat for large layoffs, plummeting market shares, and factory conditions being beyond gross (Listeria and mold, anyone?). 

These stories are based on leaked documents, revealing that Beyond Meat products produced at the plant (about an hour outside of Philly) tested positive for Listeria at least 11 times in the past year or so.

Plus, this whistleblower showed that contaminants like metal, wood, plastic, and string were also found in various Beyond Meat products—we know wood is vegan, but this is still a major yikes.

Despite Beyond Meat’s popularity with the vegan or plant-forward crowd, its shares have plummeted almost 80% since January, which could be due to reduced demand for vegan “meats,” or an upsurge in companies producing similar non-meat, meaty-tasting things. 

Plus, they laid off about 200 employees (roughly one-fifth of their company) in October—including former C.O.O. Doug Ramsey, who was arrested for allegedly biting off part of a man’s nose during a fight (that’s definitely not vegan-friendly).

Although Beyond Meat began with good intentions, as LA-based founder Ethan Brown aimed to positively impact climate change, human health, constraints on natural resources, and animal welfare, it seems that this plant-based company is falling fast.

Fish-free Fish is Making Waves

Sticking with the plant-based theme of the day, let’s dive in (pun definitely intended) to the above-the-sea world of fish-free fish. 

Although vegan burgers sound relatively appetizing, fish-free fish sounds, well, kinda fishy. 

Alternative-seafood Swedish startup Hooked has released Salmoonish and Toonish, two salmon-free and tuna-free products that are supposed to taste like the real thing—but we gotta admit, we’re feeling iffy-ish about it.

Although the goals of the company are certainly respectable—overfishing is definitely a real issue—we’re not sure if we can get on board with “fish” made of soy- and wheat-based vegetable protein, natural flavors, and algae

But the consumers have spoken, and Hooked has seen a 25% growth month-over-month and is projected to have over 300% growth in 2022.

And we do commend Hooked’s efforts—according to them, the 2021 consumption of Toonish saved more than 12,000 real tuna fish and 168 tons of harmful CO2 emissions.

Overall, we won’t knock it ‘till we try it—although Hooked is Euro-based for now, we can definitely see these products swimming their way across the pond in the coming years.

Bodybuilding Babies?

Premature infants certainly don’t need pre-workout drinks—but turns out they can definitely benefit from extra consumption of the compound carnitine

Although amino acids are well known by weight lifters and exercise fanatics, we all need a consistent intake of these molecular building blocks to proteins—and as it turns out, preemie babies can benefit greatly from an amino acid derivative called carnitine.

Carnitine is found in nearly every human cell—in fact, its name is derived from the Latin word carnus, meaning “flesh,” and was first isolated from meat—and is made from the essential amino acids lysine and methionine.

The primary function of this meaty compound is to transport fatty acids to our cells’ mitochondria to produce energy, and newer evidence finds that it has strong neuroprotective effects in a developing baby’s brain—especially in the final trimester of pregnancy, which preemie babes miss out on. 

Now, a recent study out of the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital finds that carnitine intake during the first weeks of a preemie’s life promoted better growth and larger brain size once they reached full-term

Notably, the babies who had the most growth got their carnitine from breast milk (not formula… or pre-workout powder).

While we’re on the topic of infants who Irish exited the womb a bit too early, another new study finds that adding extra nutrients to breast milk or formula after leaving the hospital improved the size, weight, and physical health of premature babies—and might also boost brain and cognitive development.

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