Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who has been vegan for more than 20 years, says he can’t endorse any plant-based meat substitutes currently on the market due to their ingredient lists.
Mackey told CNBC the brands that are “taking the world by storm, if you look at the ingredients, they are super, highly processed foods.”
Whole Foods gave plant-based start-up Beyond Meat a boost in 2013 when the grocer began offering its vegan “chicken” strips. Early investors in the product were billionaires Bill Gates and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.
“We launched Beyond Meat. We were their launching pad. In fact, I think all of their new products have been introduced at Whole Foods,” Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods told CNBC’s Make It. In 2016, Beyond Meat launched its Beyond Burger.
“I don’t think eating highly processed foods is healthy,” Mackey said. “I think people thrive on eating whole foods. As for health, I will not endorse that, and that is about as big of criticism that I will do in public.”
Mackey believes plant-based meat alternatives are a more ethical choice and better for the environment, the CNBC article said. He also notes the meat substitutes are considered by some as a way for meat eaters to “re-educate” their palates.