Hardly a day goes by without a couple of loud Beyond Meat (BYND -0.42%) headlines. The maker of vegetable-based meat substitutes is tapping into the zeitgeist of 2020 in a way that few other companies have matched.

But why are so many people talking about Beyond Meat, and what are they really saying? Let's have a look.

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Image source: Getty Images.

Let's give them something to talk about

Beyond Meat has been around since 2009, but only went public in 2019. Its first large-scale attention-grabbing commercial opportunity arrived last summer as Dunkin Donuts (DNKN) started a pilot program of Beyond Meat sausage sandwiches in Manhattan. Nationwide distribution followed in the fall of 2019. Meanwhile, Beyond Meat has found plenty of other distribution channels over the last year and a half.

Thanks to a global rise of vegan and vegetarian diets, many consumers are eager to try the company's meatless products. Others just want to see how a meatless chicken nugget or soy-protein meatball compare to the real thing. Social media services are awash in videos in which online celebrities or ordinary people review the company's products. Many of these reviews have been positive, generating valuable word-of-mouth advertising for Beyond Meat.

A businessman listens intently, cupping one hand to his ear.

Image source: Getty Images.

Accessibility is another issue. After a slow start, Beyond Meat is putting their plant-based sausage patties and burgers within easy reach of the average American.

Kroger (KR -0.60%) has been stocking Beyond Burgers since 2017 (it also started stocking Beyond Burgers five months ago). Retail giant Target (TGT 0.57%) sold Cookout Classic patties over the summer of 2020, and Walmart (WMT 0.83%) just tripled its distribution of Beyond Meat products. Whole Foods Market has been selling Beyond Meat products since before Amazon (AMZN -0.17%) bought the store chain. If you don't feel like cooking the plant-based meat at home, you can find Beyond Meat sandwiches at Carl's Jr. and The Cheesecake Factory (CAKE 1.79%), among others. Mighty McDonald's (MCD 0.07%) is trying out Beyond Burgers in the German market for now; a larger deal might follow later.

Every new distribution channel is another opportunity to write Beyond Meat into the headlines, and each launch is a great conversation starter.

The investing angle

Beyond Meat's stock price has more than doubled in 2020, giving investors one clear reason to sit up and take notice.

That being said, the stock may have gotten ahead of itself. Fellow Fool Jon Quast is a shareholder in Beyond Meat, but the doubling expected in three years or more materialized in just a few months. It's enough to drive a nervous man distracted.

Personally, I would like to see archrival Impossible Foods joining Beyond Meat in the public market so we can compare not just their meatless products but also their detailed business plans and financial results. That may not happen anytime soon but I'm a patient kind of guy. Wake me up when Impossible Foods files for an initial public offering (IPO) and I'll be glad to weigh the two leading plant-based meat purveyors against each other. Until then, I'd rather just skim Beyond Meat's headlines from the sidelines.