By: Shriya Swaminathan
Over countless late-night sessions at the whiteboard, Nowadays co-founders Max Elder and Dominik Grabinski wanted to create a company with a name that captures the timelessness of their mission—to free animals from the supply chain, and feed consumers nourishing foods. In the process, they also sought to imbue a feeling that described what their product represents while having a mainstream appeal.
“Nowadays is a very approachable and accessible brand name that recognizes we are doing something different. It’s an acknowledgment of change from the past without judgment. ‘Nowadays’ we can make delicious, healthy, humane, and sustainable meat without animals. We feel the name symbolizes an ever-present optimism that accompanies innovation that will make our world a better place for all inhabitants.”
These powerful words from visionary and Nowadays co-founder Max Elder sparked an enlivened conversation with VEGWORLD.
VW: What was the motivation behind the founding of Nowadays?
ME: We wanted to create plant-based meats that are as good for people as they are for the planet. Given the meteoric rise of those who identify as “flexitarian,” we quickly learned that a major driver in reducing one’s intake of animal products is the health benefit of a predominantly plant-rich diet. There was a void in the market that catered to health-conscious, comfort food lovers and we hoped to deliver an option with significantly superior health advantages to animal meat. We want our consumers to be nourished by Nowadays! Currently, the animal-free protein sector only accounts for about 2% of the overall meat market. There’s still a long way to go to effectively dismantle the animal-based industries and we need all creative, innovative minds at work!
VW: How do you envision tackling affordability and accessibility with your products so that everyone has the choice to opt-out of animal-based products?
ME: Of course, our goal is to not only be planet-friendly, and healthy but also cost-effective to the everyday consumer. We are working on scalability to bring down costs and compete with commodity prices of poultry—which are kept artificially low with government subsidies, bailouts, and other externalized costs. These costs end up cycling back in the form of countless medical bills for consumers—given the proven detriments of consuming animal products. It behooves us to radically reimagine how we create plant-based meats to compete on cost. Nowadays is first and foremost a plant-based meat manufacturer with a patent-pending technology to create whole cuts of meat using organic pea protein and a few minimal, high-quality ingredients! By making whole cuts first and then plugging into existing finishing lines to batter, bread, fry, and freeze, we can scale manufacturing and distribution quickly and efficiently without having to reinvent too many wheels.
VW: Do you feel that your approach sets you apart from other plant-based upgrades to animal protein products?
ME: We don’t think of other plant meat companies as our competition. Rather, it’s all of us taking market share away from the industries that exploit animals, and harm human and planetary health. There are proven, compelling propositions over animal-based products across this sector—from being cholesterol-free to the amount of unsaturated vs. saturated fats. This works to our advantage. However, compared to most plant-based products, Nowadays stands out as soy-free (we use organic pea protein), crafted with only a few simple ingredients, and with unparalleled nutritional profiles. We want to show the customers that plant-based meats are not “fake” or that they have to undergo excessive processing to achieve the desired taste and texture, while also delivering on a superior nutrition profile.
VW: What motivated you to enter the plant-protein innovation space with plant-based upgrades to chicken products?
ME: For us, positive impact is central to our mission. Chicken is the most consumed animal meat globally and in the U.S. Furthermore, chicken consumption is growing faster than the consumption of any other land animal, with nearly 99% of these sentient animals being factory farmed. If one were to take a snapshot of all birds currently living on the planet, domesticated “poultry” birds would account for nearly three times the total biomass of all wild bird species combined! There is also new fascinating research from geologists and archeologists that suggests that the rise of the “factory-farmed chicken” is a key marker of how humans have fundamentally altered our biosphere. We can’t ignore the significance of these findings. Delivering a healthy, tasty, plant-based “no-brainer” option to conventional animal protein is our way of participating in solutions to these crises in a meaningful way.
VW: That’s a completely valid strategy! Moving ahead, what void do you aspire to fill next?
ME: We think of the meat market in terms of many different “categories.” Creating whole cuts of plant-based chicken is only our entry point—there’s potential for so much more! We want to revolutionize the animal-based categories that have poor nutrition profiles and long ingredients lists. You can think of popular items that are breaded, fried, heavily processed, that consumers enjoy despite what they are and not because of what they are. We plan to explore other similar product categories where we can capture a significant portion of market share with our strong, clean-label, healthy product.
VW: What’s the best way for customers to try these game-changing creations for themselves?
ME: We have scaled our direct-to-consumer business across the country so customers can get Nowadays delivered straight to their doorsteps when they order on our website. Direct-to-consumer is an effective avenue to get our delicious plant-based meat to eaters across the country. Additionally, we are loving our restaurant collaborations and will expand our foodservice presence in 2022! LA-based fast-food favorite Honeybee Burger was the first to launch our Nowadays nuggets on their menus and they’ve been an incredibly innovative and collaborative partner. We’re also thrilled to be partnering with Brooklyn-based Aunts and Uncles—which was recently voted one of the top 40 new restaurants in the United States by Esquire Magazine. We plan to enter retail in 2023 and are thrilled for more folks to enjoy Nowadays and be a part of the change we are creating!
meat chicken poultry soy burger protein plant-based
“I’m deeply believe that a rising tide currently lifts all plant-based boats. Consumers need more plant-based choices worth both their pocketbook and their recipe book. We are entering massive markets with diverse consumer segments, and to make a meaningful impact at scale and remove animals from food supply chains we need more delicious, healthy, and affordable choices. We see ourselves as a critical part of the collective solution alongside other plant-powered innovators!”– Max Elder