Vegan surprise: Former McDonald’s CEO takes seat on Beyond Meat board

Former McDonald’s executive joins board of Beyond Meat

A package of chicken-free vegan protein strips produced by El Segundo-based Beyond Meat.

(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

El Segundo-based mock meat company Beyond Meat is beefing up its board of directors with a former McDonald’s Corp. chief executive.

Don Thompson, who helmed the Oak Brook, Ill.-based fast food chain for 2½ years, will be sharing his expertise in Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets with the 6-year-old maker of vegan non-GMO pea protein patties.

Thompson spent 25 years at McDonald’s, serving as president and global chief operating officer, among other roles, before taking the CEO job. He stepped down in January after months of slumping sales.

“Don’s expertise and leadership is invaluable as we seek to deliver on our promise of enabling consumers to eat what they love, without any downsides,” Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said Thursday.


Thompson said customers want choice and variety in the food they eat.

“Ethan and the team at Beyond Meat have proved that you can actually have great taste and high quality with plant-based proteins, even in a burger,” he said.

Seth Goldman, chief executive of beverage company Honest Tea, will become executive chairman of the board. He has served as a Beyond Meat board member since 2013.

Founded in 2009, Beyond Meat has attracted investments from tech titans like Bill Gates and Twitter Inc. cofounders Biz Stone and Evan Williams. The company’s products can be found in 7,500 stores nationwide, including at Whole Foods, Target and Safeway.


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