Achieving the Impossible: Dr. Pat Brown speaks at Virtual Conversations

On May 13, the Danforth Center welcomed Dr. Pat Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, to speak at a virtual Conversations event. The program, organized by the Friends Committee of the Danforth Center, was joined by 215 unique households from around the country. During the discussion Brown presented evidence that animal-based meat production is damaging our planet—and provided his solutions to overcome the problem. He was joined on screen by moderator Stephanie Regagnon, the Danforth Center’s executive director of innovation partnerships.

Dr. Pat Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, explained how plant-based meat can lead to a better future at virtual Conversations.

For the Good of the Planet

When Dr. Brown, a Stanford University professor/biochemist, discovered that animal agriculture was the most significant cause of environmental degradation, he decided he had to act.

He founded Impossible Foods. His idea was simple: to make the same product that people love, without relying on the same “prehistoric” technology, animals. By studying how meat works as an ingredient, Dr. Brown and his team were able to use plant-based ingredients to create a product that looks, smells, and tastes like meat while needing far less water, land, or fertilizer than animal agriculture.

“If we can eliminate the economic incentive for covering the planet with cows… we can unlock this huge opportunity,” Dr. Brown said. By most accounts, it’s working. The market for plant-based meat surged 27% year over year in 2020.

I think there’s a tremendous opportunity here for agricultural research to help solve these problems.

Dr. Pat Brown, CEO & Founder, Impossible Foods 


Think Global, Act Local

Feeding the world with nutritious food while simultaneously addressing climate change, loss of topsoil and overconsumption of natural resources, are global challenges that the Danforth Center is addressing. We are also working with or fostering companies that are harnessing the power of plants for good in the marketplace.

As a recent article in the St. Louis Business Journal attests, St. Louis is fast becoming a hub for plant-based meat and animal alternatives. Local companies like Benson Hill, with roots in the Danforth Center and which will be going public in a $2B deal later this year, are developing and marketing high-protein crops, new ingredients, and consumer products that are fueling the plant-based meat movement.

The Impossible Burger, developed by Dr. Pat Brown, looks, smells, and tastes like beef, despite being made from plants. Thanks to the Danforth Center and companies like Benson Hill, St. Louis is becoming a leader in the growing plant-based food industry.

Why It Matters

Plants can do much more than can serve as a substitute for meat. As Dr. Brown discussed, animal agriculture impacts biodiversity, pollutes water supplies, and is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. The Danforth Center is working to unlock and utilize all that plants can do to preserve our natural environment, such as preventing soil erosion, sequestering carbon, and aiding in biodiversity.

Seeking Solutions

The Danforth Center has a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Like Dr. Pat Brown, the Danforth Center is harnessing the power of plants to feed a growing world while preserving our natural environment. If you would like to help us build a brighter, more sustainable future, click here to make a donation today.

Watch the Event

Media Sponsors

For information on sponsoring virtual Conversations, contact Isabel Acevedo, Corporate and Foundation Relations Coordinator, at 314.324.5401 or