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Milwaukee native pioneers line of plant-based burgers soon to launch in the area

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58)-- Plant-based meat substitute company ‘Beyond Meat’ became the first to be publicly traded in May, and stock prices have since soared more than 500 percent. With the meat substitute industry on the rise, a Milwaukee native is making his mark.

Born in Milwaukee, Danny O’Malley was always a meat and potatoes kind-of-guy, but that all changed after he moved to California at the age of 16.

“I started learning a different way of eating, and that’s part of my upbringing, but today I’m 100-percent plant based,” said O’Malley.

A doctor’s visit also inspired O’Malley’s diet change. He saw major improvement after going plant-based.

"Got my cholesterol checked, it was borderline high, but 90 days later my cholesterol dropped 90 points. So knowing that was really important to me,” O’Malley adds.

O’Malley founded ‘Before the Butcher’ proteins, plant-based meat substitute products using soybeans. He is bringing it back to his hometown this year.

“We use the soy because we believe it has the best texture, without having the wheat gluten in it,” says O’Malley.

Before the Butcher products are supposed to smell like meat, taste like meat and even cook like meat. The burger patties even produce a red blood-like look while it’s being cooked.

“The burgers were actually made to look, cook, smell and taste just like ground beef, and you can see the oils and the water within the burger tend to surface,” said O’Malley. “It brings the beet juice, which is our coloring, up along with it.”   

O'Malley's Before the Butcher UNCUT burger line has beef, chicken, breakfast sausage and turkey burger meat substitutes. 

Culinary teachers from Milwaukee Area Technical College have studied the growing popularity of meat substitutes. They say people are also making the switch to plant-based meat substitutes because it’s environmentally friendly and humane.

”It’s being done for beef, chicken, and you’re seeing products coming out that are mimicking fish as well,” said John Reiss, Chef-Instructor for Milwaukee Area Technical College.  

Reiss says processed products typically aren’t used in culinary classes, but students are learning how to accommodate for the growing popularity of plant-based diets.

”When we put together that menu, we have to make sure that we account for that,” said Reiss.

“It’s not something that’s going to disappear. It’s only going to get larger,” said O’Malley. “We’re at the tip of the iceberg, you’re seeing a lot of exciting things happening right now in this industry, and there are more players coming in which will make it more exciting for all of us.”

Before the Butcher is expected to be in retail stores in the greater Milwaukee area by late fall.

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