Chef-crafted vegan jerky made from organic beets in Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper, Sesame-Ginger Teriyaki, and Savory BBQ flavors all from Theo – yes, the namesake of the brand is also the brains behind the innovative concept to turn beets into jerky. Theo Mourad, a former chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, turns a new leaf to bring whole foods to the average snacker.
“We believe that producers should be on the pursuit to make products that are contributing to better health for customers, but the plant-based space has been polluted by hyper-processed options that have been manipulated so far from being real plants,” states Theo Mourad.
“People are being misled by all of the greenwashing and the marketing that if something doesn’t have animal products in it then it’s healthy and “sustainable.” But should a product that doesn’t contain animal products be allowed to be called plant-based if it’s full of ingredients that aren’t really plants? We think not.”
In the fall of 2022, THEO’s Plant Based was selected by Whole Foods Market to participate in their accelerator program, where 10 companies underwent a 12-week curriculum taught by Whole Foods Market and other industry experts. THEO’s beet jerky is now available in Whole Foods Market stores in the Chicago metro area, with additional Midwest locations, and expanding into more regions quickly.
Since their Whole Foods debut, there have been lots of exciting developments since then including the brand’s launch into some incredible retailers including more select Whole Foods and Pop Up Grocer locations as well as top e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Bubble Goods, GTFO It’s Vegan, and more.
In addition to their unique approach to a fully plant-based snack for all, THEO’s Plant-Based has also partnered with the environmental organization 1% for the Planet and will donate at least one percent of their annual sales to further healthy food access in Chicago.
2018, Skinny Farm, with Tim Redmond. Natural Foods & Organic trailblazer. Now Theo’s mentor.
HOW THEO’S IS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER JERKIES
“Our brand, THEO’s Plant-Based, offers the first organic vegetable-based jerky on the market called BEET Jerky, a first-of-its-kind, savory snack shaking up the coveted jerky category with three delicious flavors: Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper, Sesame-Ginger Teriyaki, and Savory BBQ,” states Theo Mourad.
“We are on a mission to lead the world into a more flavorful, healthy, sustainable, and just food system by honoring vegetables for what they already are – tasty, nutritious, and planet-friendly.”
As producers and innovators in an emerging space (plant-based food), the THEO’s team believe it’s their responsibility to create products that are good for people and the planet, using the highest quality and most nutritious ingredients possible.
BRINGING REAL FOOD BACK TO THE MASSES
What people ought to be eating is REAL food. Real food products are things that can be made with your hands with ingredients that you can buy at the store or your local farmers market — things that are recognizable. In the case of “plant-based”, real whole plant-based vegetables and fruits.
“All of our products will be like that and none of these chemically constructed lab experiments. At the highest level social responsibility comes into play in that if you’re going to add something to the marketplace, it should be something that’s good for the health of both people and the planet,” states Theo Mourad.
“You can call our business “plant-based” but I truly see myself more in the business of getting folks more real food options — Organic food that comes from the earth that was grown with care.”
“We go as far to say that if people can buy organic vegetables and cook them at home for themselves, that’s our number one wish. But, with the reality of the fast-paced world we live in, the majority of people don’t have the luxury of time to always prepare healthy plant-based products, so that’s where we come in as the on-the-go solution. People shouldn’t have to choose between cooking vegetables at home and picking processed foods — there needs to be a middle ground and that’s where there are still so few brands that are offering genuinely simple and nutritious plant-based options.”
ACTIVE EFFORT TO STOP GREENWASHING
To get more specific on their efforts, THEO’s is taking every measure possible to be socially and sustainably conscious.
“Our supply chain is organic and regenerative, our packaging is compostable (what other at-scale products are doing this?!), and the product is upcycled and zero-waste,” states Mourad.
“Most beet processing only uses 50-70% of the beet, but we’re proud to be using 96% of the plant and we produce it in a way that maintains all of the nutritional integrity of the raw beet via low temp drying. We additionally produce locally and donate “1% for the planet” to local Chicago urban farms and food nonprofits to aid access to nutritious foods. As we grow and build our team we will also prioritize hires from different backgrounds. I like to say that you can’t “greenwash” our product and brand because it’s genuinely green. And we are making the beet, one of the most nutritious foods that exist, more convenient to eat (though I’d still rather people buy the beets locally and cook them at home!)”
Try Theo’s Plant-Based Beet Jerky and learn more about their initiative here: www.theosplantbased.com.plant-based plant based industry