Don Thompson’s burgers are definitely not 100 percent beef anymore. Or even 1 percent beef. In a statement released Wednesday, Beyond Meat, a vegan meat-replacement startup, announced that they’d snapped up the former McDonald’s CEO to serve on their Board of Directors.
That’s right: an ex-McDonald’s CEO. Thompson was with the company for 25 years, serving as the CEO for the last three of those years until his retirement earlier this year. And his time with McDonald’s isn’t exactly over, either. After he stepped down as CEO, the company announced it would continue to pay Thompson $3.3 million for his consulting services.
If it seems like a conflict of interest, it’s not. McDonalds covered all its bases when it had Thompson sign a two-year non-compete agreement. According to a statement McDonald’s made to the AP, his new meat-free venture doesn’t interfere with that. (Or perhaps McDonald’s is letting this go because they are keenly interested in the future of non-meat burgers.)
For now, Beyond Meat is more focused on consumer retail. Their Beast Burgers and Beyond Chicken Strips, made of non-GMO soy and pea protein, can be found in grocery stores everywhere, from Whole Foods and Sprouts to Target and Vons. Their mission, according to their website, is to decrease the global meat consumption 25 percent by 2020 (they call it their 25/20 Vision). “Massive, we know,” the website states. “But it would do wonders for human health, for the environment, for conservation of natural resources and for animals. It’s worth a fight.”
Don Thompson seems excited about the new position with Beyond Meat. “Today’s customers want great taste, choice and variety in the foods they eat,” he said in the Beyond Meat announcement. “More and more, every day, the traditional favorites of beef, fowl and fish are being augmented with additional plant protein sources to satisfy this new taste demand…Beyond Meat [has] proven that you can actually have great taste and high quality with plant based proteins – even in a burger!”