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      Vegan meat company opening new plant in Columbia

      The old adage "which came first: the chicken or the egg" may be appropriate in many circumstances, but not when the chicken isn't real chicken. But the chicken in question is creating sixty new jobs in Columbia. Officials from the City of Columbia and regional economic development held a press conference today announcing a 16,000 square-foot manufacturing facility being built for soy-based meat producing company Beyond Meat. Beyond Meat says it will invest 2 million in the plant in its first year, and that their close partnership with the University of Missouri gathering research and using it for their product will make staying meat-free easier than ever. But Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown says they're not going after devout vegans, or trying to convert meat-eaters. "We look at this as going after the 'flexa-tarian' market, which is consumers that are gradually reducing the amount of meat that they're eating on a, say, weekly basis,â?? says Ethan, founder of Beyond Meat. â??They're consciously avoid meat in like one or two meals. We believe that's the biggest for this product. It's been estimated that group is about 90 million people in the US." The company moved its plant to Columbia from Maryland, mainly because of the research Mizzou is helping them conduct. Brown says that while their chicken product will readily available with many items on the MU lunch menu in the coming year, they're still working on getting it into many mainstream supermarkets and restaurants.