Lunchables Inventor Starts Plant-Based Meat Company

Rody Hawkins is turning his expertise toward new company Improved Nature to develop plant-based beef, chicken, and pork.


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Self-proclaimed “meat scientist” Richard “Rody” Hawkins recently founded vegan meat company Improved Nature. After inventing Lunchables in 1986, Hawkins worked to extend the shelf life of processed-meat product Slim Jim. His new company, however, creates vegan products—including Pork-Free Cutlets, Beef-Free Country-Fried Steak, BBQ Boneless Chicken-Free Wings—using a proprietary technology that produces meat-like fibers using only soy and purified water. “We now have a way to be 20 times more efficient than animal agriculture,” Hawkins said during a recent conference. “Right now, it takes about five pounds of soy meal to make one pound of pork. We’re taking one pound of soy protein and making five pounds of plant-based meat.” Last year, the company invested $3 million in its first production facility in North Carolina—the second largest pork-producing state in the country.