Leonardo DiCaprio, who has been one of the most prominent celebrity vegetarians and a longtime proponent of bringing awareness to the public of the negative effects of climate change, has become the latest in a string of familiar faces to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to plant-based alternatives to meat. This past Tuesday, DiCaprio took another large step in his promotion of the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle when, according to an article in Fortune, he agreed to become one of the primary investors in the meat substitute company Beyond Meat.
Beyond Meat is currently one of the market leaders in producing plant-based alternatives to meat that look, smell, and most importantly, taste just like the real meat products they are replacing. Their latest product to hit stores is the Beyond Burger, a pea-protein based veggie burger that actually has more grams of protein than a comparable amount of ground beef. They use beets to make the meat red and even bleed when it is cooked on a grill. DiCaprio joins an ever increasing list of movers and shakers, such as Bill Gates, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, and traditional meat corporation Tyson Foods, excited to be getting in on the ground floor of what the Beyond Meat company likes to refer to as “the future of protein.”
Part of the excitement stems from the fact that Beyond Meat has developed an interesting and unique strategy to market the new item. Instead of placing the burgers in the freezer with all the other traditional substitutes for meat, they are being displayed in the meat cooler, right next to the steak and beef burgers. The reason for this is that Beyond Meat wants their product to be of interest to not only vegans and vegetarians, but also those who regularly consume meat but are searching for a healthier lifestyle. The conceit, of course, is that even meat lovers won’t be able to tell the difference.
Leonardo DiCaprio has been one of the strongest voices for both the rights of animals, as well as combating the catastrophic effects of climate change. Climate change experts and natural health advocates believe that the factory farming of livestock is one of the major culprits in the rapidly increasing production of greenhouse gasses that lead to planetary warming, producing up to 37 percent of the world’s methane. It’s currently estimated that factory farms house upwards of 65 billion animals across the globe. Animal rights advocates are quick to point out that these animals are more often than not held in deplorable, tortuously cruel conditions. Factory farming could also be partly responsible as well for an even more immediate human health threat than climate change. The rampant use of antibiotics in livestock to fight off the sickness and disease that is unavoidable when so many animals are held captive in such confined spaces has led to the possibility that these antibiotics, which have been largely responsible for the increased world life expectancy in the 20th and 21st centuries, could fail in our lifetime.
For these and many other reasons, vegan alternatives to meat are set to explode in the coming years as more people discover how easy to find and enjoyable plant-based protein products can be. It makes sense that many celebrities, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, will want to be on the cutting edge of that explosion.
[Featured Image by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP Images]