This Company is Launching the Most Sustainable Protein Source in the World

|Updated Sep 2, 2021
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Food technology company Plantible Foods is launching the world’s most sustainable plant-based protein. This week, the San Diego-based company just announced that it secured a $21.5 million Series A funding round led by Astanor Ventures. The company’s investment package brings the company’s valuation up to $27 million. The plant-based company’s central ingredient is the Rubi Protein made from lemna – an aquatic plant known as duckweed. Plantible Foods boasts that its proprietary plant protein is one of the most nutritious and sustainable plants in the world.

Plantible Foods emerged when founders Tony Martens and Mauritis van de Ven decided to take aim at the dominant food systems globally. The founders believed that this plant-based protein could provide an alternative to the highly harmful animal agriculture sector. The company claims that the lemna protein is 50,000 times more protein efficient than beef and 400 times more protein efficient than peas.

“Being considered one of the world’s most sustainable and nutrient-dense plants, lemna contains one of the most valuable proteins in the world; a protein that behaves just like egg whites and has an amino acid profile that is comparable to whey, while also being allergen-free and non-GMO,” the founders explained to Vegconomist. “That is why we are developing innovative technologies to cultivate and process this mesmerizing plant.”

Noticing the unlimited sustainability value and potential growth of the start-up’s product, investors gathered together to promote the plant-based protein. Other investors include Mammoth Biosciences founder Trevor Martin, Unata founder Chris Bryson, Google executive Bradley Horowitz, Vectr Ventures, FTW Ventures, and Kellogg Co.’s eighteen94 capital fund. The value of Plantible Food’s plant-based protein is the almost unlimited supply of its source material.

“On average, lemna doubles in mass every 36 hours, while it can be grown year-round,” the founders continued. “This results in a very stable and consistent but also scalable supply of biomass. Other plant-based protein sources have annual crop cycles and are therefore more prone to the ever-increasing unpredictable weather patterns.

“In addition, lemna is a 100 times more efficient in producing protein compared to soy, and even 400 times more protein efficient when comparing it to peas. This makes lemna an incredibly sustainable source of proteins, as it doesn’t require arable land to be cultivated and its water footprint is significantly lower than that of other plant-based crops.”

The company highlights how the majority of plant-based proteins are derived from plants with annual crop cycles. The founders hope to provide a more sustainable, but also more reliable plant-based protein source that can be grown in a controlled environment. The lemna production is less vulnerable to the rapidly worsening climate crisis. The company details that lemna doubles in mass every 48 hours, allowing for a consistent and reliable daily harvest year-long.

Plantible Foods enhanced its production capability by 150 times over the last year. The food tech company established a new pilot plant with 11 new employees, making the total staff number reach 16. Following the highly successful funding round, the company intends to build its inaugural commercial facility in preparation for a commercial launch by 2022. The company aims to join the existing plant-based protein businesses to join an effort to undercut the meat and dairy industries nationwide, providing consumers with the most sustainable option yet.

“Plantible is not competing with other plant proteins, our goal is to remove chickens and cows from the food supply system,” Martens said. “We are cultivating a new plant to change the broken food chain that was exposed during the pandemic. Currently, available plant proteins don’t pull their weight when it comes to competing with animal-based products on taste and nutrition. By combining plant science, biochemistry, and engineering, we are able to create drop-in replacements for these widely used animal-derived proteins without forcing consumers to sacrifice on either taste and/or nutrition, paving the way for an accelerated transition towards a healthier planet.”

Fast-food restaurants have finally got the memo that their customer base isn’t just coming through for a burger, fried chicken, or a beef taco. Many now have plant-based foods and are coming up with creative, delicious ways to get more greens on the menu. Here are the 6 best fast-food chains with plant-based options on the menu.

1. Burger King

Turns out there’s a lot more to rely on than a salad if you’re eating plant-based. Burger King has the Impossible Whopper featuring a meatless patty as well as a few secretly vegan options such as the French Toast Sticks and Hashbrowns.

2. White Castle

Known for its mini square-shaped sliders, this hamburger chain jumped on the plant-based bandwagon at some participating locations. You can find an Impossible Slider on some White Castle menus.

3. Del Taco

This was the first national Mexican fast-food chain to offer Beyond Meat at the company’s 580 restaurants across the country. Del Taco has the Beyond Avocado Taco on the menu along with the Epic Beyond Original Mex Burrito and Avocado Veggie Bowl.

4. Carl's Jr.

Another brand synonymous with beef burgers, Carl’s Jr. offers several plant-based options for veggie and plant lover such as Beyond Famous Star Burger and Guacamole Thickburger.

5. Taco Bell

This fast-food restaurant may have been one of the first you frequented while transitioning to plant-based eating. That’s because Taco Bell has eight million vegetarian combinations and sells 350 million vegetarian items a year through menu substitutions or ordering off their vegetarian menu. In fact, they were the first quick-service restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association (AVA) certified food options.

6. Starbucks

From the time it started offering breakfast sandwiches in 2006, the coffee conglomerate became a competitor in the fast-food space. You can get your favorite hot and cold beverages made with almond, coconut or oat milk but there are also plant-based food options available such as the Baja Black Bean Veggie Wrap, bagel with vegan cream cheese and Impossible Breakfast Sandwich.