(WJLA) - Josh Tetrick is on a mission to replace the chicken egg -- with plants.
"Ninety-nine percent of the 1.8 trillion eggs out there come from pretty bad places," explained Tetrick, CEO of Hampton Creek Foods. "Places that aren't the best for the environment, or for animal welfare."
So Tetrick founded a company called Hampton Creek Foods. He hired a team of biochmists, food scientists and chefs, and he began scouring 1,500 different plants, looking for a solution.
And he found one.
"It's the Canadian yellow pea -- not a green pea, a yellow pea -- that does the same thing a chicken egg does in mayonnaise.
Tetrick says the yellow pea tastes and binds like a chicken egg, but is cheaper, more sustainable, and cholesterol-free -- and people with egg allergies can eat it.
Tetrick said, Hampton Creek Foods wanted their egg alternative to taste really good, but also to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and use less water.
Tetrick's team used it to create a mayonnaise, and recently began selling it in Whole Foods.
Megan McGarry, a marketing team leader at Whole Foods, said the product had a fan base almost before it hit the shelves.
"There were several customers who were anticipating its arrival," she said.
Beth Rosenberg, an employee of the D.C. store, said "It's very good, if you're trying to avoid cholesterol."
Apparently, Microsoft's Bill Gates agrees -- he has already agreed to back the company -- and Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, recently announced a $23-million investment in the company, too.
"[Their support] enables us to have credibility, to spread the message and carry on what we're trying to do," Tetrick said.
Tetrick said Hampton Creek plans to expand operations to Asia soon, where 38 percent of the world's eggs are produced, but he also plans to continue fine-tuning his product -- with first-hand feedback.
D.C. resident Marlene Connors said she used to buy low-fat mayonnaise, but that it "lacks substance."
"This stuff is super," she told ABC7.
The company also plans to release a cookie dough that can be eaten raw without worry of salmonella, and a bean-based liquid and powder that can be scrambled up like a chicken egg.