Ex McDonald’s CEO Joins Vegan Start-up

In less than a year, Don Thompson has gone from pushing the world to eat more burgers as the CEO of McDonald’s, to helping guide a vegan company that wants to cut global meat consumption.

On Wednesday, Beyond Meat, a startup dedicated to replacing beef and chicken with plant products, announced that Thompson joined the Board of Directors.

While Beyond Meat said that Thompson’s experience would be invaluable, the new job is certainly a departure from planning marketing campaigns to convince consumers that, yes, the Big Mac is made with 100% meat.

“More and more, every day, the traditional favorites of beef, fowl and fish are being augmented with additional plant protein sources to satisfy this new taste demand,” Thompson said in a statement. “Ethan and the team at Beyond Meat have proven that you can actually have great taste and high quality with plant based proteins – even in a burger!”

(Beyond Meat Beast Burger)

Beyond Meat’s philosophy is that meat is delicious, but because of its negative impact on animal welfare, health, and the environment, animal protein should be swapped out for plant-based protein. The company sells items such as Beast Burgers made with non-GMO pea protein and Beyond Chicken Strips made with non-GMO soy and pea protein.  

Thompson left McDonald’s in March, after working for the company for nearly 25 years. 

McDonald’s is reportedly still paying Thompson $3 million for “consulting services,” according to a report by CNBC. His replacement, Steve Easterbrook, earns a salary of $1.1 million. 

Thompson agreed to a two year non-compete agreement when he left McDonald’s. According to the Associated Press, McDonald’s says that working with a vegan startup does not interfere with this agreement.