‘No harm, no fowl’: Rebellyous Foods relocates plant-based ‘chicken’ revolution to West Seattle

(WSB photos)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A venture-capital-backed tech startup has just moved into the heart of the West Seattle Triangle.

Its primary product, however, isn’t meant for your screen. It’s meant for your plate.

Rebellyous Foods is the new tenant for the second floor of the 4600 37th SW building in The Triangle, where SK Food Group long prepared meals for airline passengers. Rebellyous Foods’ main product has something to do with wings, too – a plant-based replacement for chicken.

The company founded by former Boeing engineer Christie Lagally makes more than food. It also is inventing technology to make the production of plant-based “chicken nuggets” cheaper – so that it can compete price-wise as well as flavor-wise.

We talked with Lagally during a tour of their new HQ this week.

Rebellyous produces for food service, not direct retail, so you won’t find its products in the supermarket. But they’re ramping up fast to produce more food for more clients -they’ve been producing 1,000 pounds a month and expect soon to be up to 6,000 pounds. They moved to West Seattle earlier this month from a much smaller space at a commmissary kitchen elsewhere in the metro area. They have so much space, they are offering to sublease some to other independent food producers. (They have dry-storage space available too.)

Lagally, wearing a company-logo T-shirt with “NO HARM, NO FOWL” on the back, explained that their product doesn’t just spare chickens’ lives. The process is far less wasteful. And that’s why they’ve been working on new equipment for the production process; they don’t have to deal with feathers, bones, blood. Just a soy or soy/wheat recipe. (The wheat is Northwest-grown spring wheat, by the way.) Less costly production means a less pricey product, and that could make plant-based nuggets more attractive to more people.

Taste, of course, has a lot to do with it too, and Lagally says Rebellyous uses a lot of the same flavorings that are pumped into chicken. Some of her dozen-plus staff members work in an R&B lab on the north side of the building, looking across SW Snoqualmie at the >West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor).

(In the R&D lab, Colleen Deyo, Tessa Bryant, Sandra Gray)

So far, they have a dozen major food-service clients, but Lagally expects that to grow.

She says she was working at Boeing, as a 777 program engineer, and then at the Good Food Institute, before founding Rebellyous Foods. She was volunteering with the Humane Society of the United States, and the more she learned about the animal-agriculture system and its effects on the environment (among other things), the more certain she became that there had to be a better way. She met some people who were advocating to start a plant-based nugget company. And she realized that her engineering background could help solve some of the problems that had plant-based food at a disadvantage over the animal-based versions.

So here she is in her second year of trying to revolutionize the “chicken” industry and help save the world. Not too much competition right now, Lagally says, although there’s certainly an appetite for it – she says Beyond Meat had a test event with their plant-based “chicken” and “sold out in five hours.” If they can get more people to switch from crispy chicken to their product, it’s a boon for climate health as well as personal health – as scientists point out.

Rebellyous Foods also hopes to be a West Seattle community asset; besides production and storage space to sublet, they also are renovating community-meeting space – a big space with windows that look north/northeastward including a peek view of downtown.

Their sustainability commitment includes more than their product – they’re even recycling tools of the trade like workers’ hair nets and gloves.

We mentioned back at the start of this report that Rebellyous Foods – aka Seattle Food Tech – is venture-capital-backed. That includes Y Combinator support. Lagally is working to raise more capital as they ramp up production as well as creation of new types of equipment – three on the drawing board as we speak, that will be designed specifically for everything from the type of processing they do to the different types of safety requirements for a product that doesn’t involve, well, blood and guts. Her summary, in a recent social-media post: “We’re dead set on crafting the tools necessary for a real, global food rebelly*ion, and bringing the resulting deliciousness to consumers around the world.”

And it’s happening in the West Seattle Triangle.

WONDERING WHERE TO TRY REBELLYOUS FOODS’ PRODUCT? Again, it’s not available by retail. But here are some of their clients:

Swedish Cherry Hill
Swedish First Hill
Cornish College of the Arts
Galaxy Rune
Georgetown Liquor’s late-night menu

16 Replies to "'No harm, no fowl': Rebellyous Foods relocates plant-based 'chicken' revolution to West Seattle"

  • Andrew Mead November 10, 2019 (11:11 pm)

    This is so awesome.  We, meaning the West Seattle Chamber were just talking about economic development in West Seattle and how we can prepare for industries and jobs of the future.  I think our creative folks and arts focus will play a key role, thinking outside the box just as Christie is doing with Rebellyous Foods!

  • Debbie A. November 11, 2019 (7:06 am)

    I love this!  Not only for the innovation and forward thinking but also because plant based eating seems to be gaining momentum for health, environmental and animal compassion.   I changed my diet 6 months ago to no meat or dairy after a stroke and cancer diagnosis and I’m very thankful for companies like Rebellyous.   I’ll need to try the nuggets next time I’m at Swedish!

  • anonyme November 11, 2019 (7:52 am)

    This is exactly what West Seattle needs – more businesses so that residents don’t have to commute to jobs and a conscientious business to boot.  Congratulations, and would love to see your product available for retail at some point.

  • JayDee November 11, 2019 (7:54 am)

    I’ve had Beyond Meat  hamburger and have been impressed. If Rebellyous Food can make a chicken nuggets brand I’d support it

  • HS November 11, 2019 (8:30 am)

    What a great interview. Thrilled with the business and it’s WS location!!! Plus, what a great business name. Perhaps a local restaurant can include the food on their menu? (I don’t see a local place listed)

  • BJ November 11, 2019 (8:32 am)

    I volunteer to taste test!

  • Peter November 11, 2019 (9:31 am)

    Very cool. I might have to pop up to the First Hill cafeteria to see if I can find their product. (Pro tip: hospital cafeterias are open to the public and cheaper than comparable restaurants.)

  • MAG November 11, 2019 (10:26 am)

    That’s truly the way to go. Folks are pitching they want more natural products with less fillers and preservatives .  So let’s make a product out of something and add flavors and preservatives then call it chicken.  I’ll be the first to pass it up. Things are out of hand. Same goes with the mystery meat they are panning off as beef. Good luck but please save a real chicken for me.

    • WSB November 11, 2019 (11:10 am)

      Their point is not “natural vs. non-natural.” Not even organic. (The ingredients, as linked above too, are here.) If I didn’t communicate this well in the story, sorry, but their biggest theme is waste reduction, in many ways – including how much energy (including feed) it takes to produce a calorie of chicken vs.a calorie of plant protein. As for flavorings/preservatives, unless you’re buying organic chicken, you might be getting those too. And cost reduction – if you don’t want to eat less animal-based food, that’s your choice, but their contention is that many do but can’t afford it because it’s much more expensive, so they’re working on lowering the production cost – TR

    • Lynne November 11, 2019 (2:31 pm)

      MAG, by ‘save’ a real chicken, do you mean ‘slaughter?’ I don’t think you know what that word means.

  • Anes November 11, 2019 (11:52 am)

    Such an inspiration!

  • SC November 12, 2019 (6:07 am)

    This is fantastic! Plant-based diets shouldn’t be off-limits to those with lower incomes. I, too, hope some local restaurants pick up these products. I’d love to support them. 

  • Deborah Mary Clouse November 12, 2019 (7:33 am)

    Now West Seattle should start raising money for hospital facilities.  

  • anonyme November 13, 2019 (6:20 am)

    Deborah, you’re so right.  West Seattle desperately needs a hospital.  We’re not a sleeper community any more.

  • Blinkyjoe November 13, 2019 (8:50 am)

    Look out, Nathan Myhrvold, you’ve got competition!

  • Sue Lindblom November 13, 2019 (7:03 pm)

    Exciting addition to our community! I eat chicken but would love to have an alternative. I’m hoping they can get into PCC before long!

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