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Keynote Speakers


Ethan Brown

CEO and Founder, Beyond Meat

Ethan Brown is the Founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, a company dedicated to building meat directly from plants. Ethan gained an appreciation for agriculture and the natural world from his father, a professor, conservationist, and hobby farmer. This interest shaped the direction of his career, where he sought to make a contribution to climate change through the clean energy sector.  His early work centered on electricity restructuring in support of an open grid, where his analysis at the gubernatorial level directly informed federal and state policies on grid management. Subsequently, Ethan joined the world’s leading Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell developer Ballard Power Systems, rising to report directly to the Company’s Chief Executive Officer.  

Though passionate about clean energy, Ethan returned often to the role of livestock in our economy and became convinced that a change in the origin of the protein—from animals to plants—that we place at the center of our plates could simultaneously address human health, climate, natural resource, and animal welfare challenges in a unique and powerful way. In 2009, Ethan founded Beyond Meat. The Company’s products are now available at approximately 190,000 retail and foodservice outlets in over 80 countries worldwide. The Company’s flagship product, the Beyond Burger, revolutionized the meat aisle by being the first plant-based burger to be sold in the meat case alongside beef at major grocery chains including Kroger, Target, Walmart, and Whole Foods Market. In an effort to further democratize plant-based meat, Beyond Meat has partnered with leading restaurant brands including McDonald’s and Yum! Brands. Beyond Meat is routinely recognized for its leadership and innovative approach including being named among Newsweek’s Most Trusted Brands in 2023, TIME100 Most Influential Companies in 2021, Fast Company’s Brands That Matter 2021, a United Nations 2018 Champion of the Earth, and multiple Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies awards. Ethan holds an MBA from Columbia University and an MPP from the University of Maryland. He is a member of the 2017 Class of Henry Crown Fellows within the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute.

T.K. Pillan

Founder & Chairman, Veggie Grill; Founding Partner, PowerPlant Partners

T.K. Pillan is the Founder & Chairman of Veggie Grill, the leading 100% plant-based restaurant company in the U.S. Since founding Veggie Grill in 2006, T.K. has been on a mission to help people advance their conscious food journey in an approachable and attainable manner.

T.K. concluded that one of the most impactful ways to create a better future was to change consumer habits around food. Today, under T.K.’s leadership, Veggie Grill has grown to 33 locations across California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Washington.  Veggie Grill is empowering tens of thousands of people to make the world a better place one plant-based meal at a time by delivering the best of the plant-based world

Growing up with an Indian mother, T.K. learned early on about holistic healing through eating. He saw the health issues in the U.S. around obesity, diabetes, cancer, surging health care costs, dependence on pharma, and wanted to create a business that would help be a part of the solution. Ultimately, T.K. wanted to give people something that he was struggling to find: healthy, delicious, convenient food that also supported the greater good of the planet. T.K. is also the Co-Founder of Powerplant Partners, a private equity firm that supports visionary entrepreneurs with companies that deliver better nutrition in more sustainable and ethical ways.  Powerplant investments include Beyond Meat, Ripple Foods, REBBL, Miyoko’s Creamery and Zero Egg.  Prior to T.K.’s work as a food entrepreneur, he Co-Founded Guidance Solutions, one of L.A.’s first e-commerce development firms that was consistently named one of the fastest growing technology companies between 1999 and 2001.  He earned an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from UCLA.  When not helping advance a plant-based future, T.K. enjoys playing beach volleyball and trying to reclaim his glory days of playing collegiate baseball and basketball at MIT.

Panelists: The Path to Mass Consumer Adoption

Panelists: Public-Private Partnerships to Fuel Growth in Alternative Proteins

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