In 2004 a brother-sister team made it their quest to create the best plant-based burger on earth. After 12 years of trial, error, expansion and pilots in various cities (including their base, St. Louis), Jody and Todd’s self-funded project, Hungry Planet, is now a worldwide movement to improve the way we eat.
Why? One reason is because one calorie of conventional meat requires 10 times the amount of water to produce as one calorie of plant protein. “According to the largest food company on the planet, Nestle, if other countries were to eat the same amount [of meat] as we do, the world would have run out of fresh water in 1994,” Todd noted as he rattled off statistics.
Planting their company in the Midwest was a bold, intentional decision. The Boymans knew that this would keep them focused on the real problem: saving our resources by creating truly delicious meat alternatives. On the coast, they could have been seduced to create the best veggie burger for vegans and vegetarians – but their market is primarily the 95% who are omnivores and carnivores. They did not want to capitalize on one community’s preferences, but change the way that everyone eats for the world’s future.
Of course they have had push-back. As people in the Cattleman’s Association see Hungry Planet grow, they also see a threat to their future livelihood. The government in Missouri recently passed labeling laws for plant-based meats, claiming that customers may be confused about what is plant-based meat and what is conventional meat. “If there is any confusion,” Jody said, “it isn’t on the label, it is at first bite!”
Hungry Planet burgers are served locally all over Santa Barbara, but if you want to try Hungry Planet’s other plant-based meats (including chicken, pork, Italian sausage and crab), the Santa Barbara School District cafeterias might be your best bet. Thanks to Hungry Planet’s philanthropic arm, they were able to provide public schools in the Santa Barbara area with 1 million meals last year. And the kids love it.
“You don’t fundamentally change [our excessive meat consumption] by lecturing people. You change it by giving them a great alternative that is not a sacrifice, just a switch.” The Boymans realize that, if they really want to change the world, it is important to support changing the food choices of the youth in America, even if that requires subsidizing the food through their Hungry Planet Philanthropy Project.