This Veggie Burger Tastes Like Meat

by Georgina Lawton

I've found myself cutting more and more meat out of my diet over the past six months for health reasons, because I now feel that it's no longer unnecessary to live a healthy, nutritionally-balanced life. So imagine my delight when I came across this delicious-looking veggie burger that claims to taste like meat — aptly named, the Impossible Burger. Maybe I'll probably go entirely veggie now, because all my needs seem to be well and truly met.

The Impossible Burger is the brainchild of Impossible Foods in California, a food company that's spent the past three-and-a-half years researching their product before using a special molecule called "heme" to create ground-beef-like substance which they say mirrors meat in its appearance, flavor, and smell. What's really interesting is that heme is found in meat too, although Impossible Foods state on their website that it's also present in plants. "A heme-containing protein naturally found in plants gives our meat its truly meaty flavor," the site explains.

Impossible Foods uses some surprising ingredients to ensure their patty resembles meat as much as possible. "We searched the plant world to find the best sources of each of the building blocks of meat, which led us to some unexpected ingredients, like coconut and honeydew melon," the site says. They claim the result is "a burger with the look, feel, smell, sizzle, and most importantly, the taste of ground beef — but made entirely from plants."

And it definitely *looks* freakishly like meat in the promo video which you can watch below. Here, all the stages of creating the Impossible Burger are shown; the meat-like substance is unwrapped, shaped into burger-sized patties, and fried, just you would a normal patty, before being placed between a toasted brioche bun lined with tomatoes and lettuce (anyone else salivating right now?).

Obviously, some vegetarians are just plain turned-off by anything meat-like and will find this burger's make-up a little too closely aligned with *actual* beef to stomach. And admittedly, the burger in the promo imagery does look very much like a medium-rare hunk of meat, with its reddish hue... but I, for one, will be jumping at the chance to sample this so I can see for myself. However, a note from the CEO Pat Brown, posted on Twitter, reveals that this product won't be rolled out until the end of 2016, and there's no word about which countries it will be available in other than the USA right now. *Cue collective veggie sigh from London and beyond.*

What initially attracted me to the burger was the fact that it really does look like a tasty meat substitute, but I'm also impressed with how much less of a carbon footprint eating a burger like this leaves on the earth. The Impossible Burger website states that the positive impact of eating this meat substitute is far-reaching, as production requires "less land, water, emissions, and energy to produce than their traditional counterparts."

The creation of this product got me thinking; how much less of a carbon footprint does eating a veggie burger leave on planet earth than eating animals? The evidence is confusing to say the least. A 2014 study of more than 50,000 people's diets by the University of Oxford calculated that our individual food-related carbon footprint could drastically be reduced by more than half of what is currently is should we each opt to go veggie, as around 25 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions come from producing food.

However, it’s unclear how much would really be saved if people swapped their beef steaks for tofu burgers, because it really depends what you eat instead of the meat. And research by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology found in 2009 that while producing a plate of peas requires a fraction of the energy required to produce the same number of calories for pork, the energy costs of a pea-burger and a pork chop are about equal.

Then there was that trending story of 2015 which gave bacon lovers across the world life; apparently, lettuce produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than bacon! Scientific American reported that Carnegie Mellon University found that if Americans switched to a more plant-heavy diet, there would be a 38 percent increase in energy use, 10 percent bump in water use, and a 6 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Although that last story sounds hella hard to believe, there really is a minefield of confusing information out there right now on this topic, so it's up to you to make up your own mind. One way to assist with this is to listen to your own body; how do you feel when you switch to a more natural, plant-based diet? Probably good, right? In case you needed any more persuasion, there's also research that suggests vegetarians have better sex and live longer, too. Oh and not to mention all the delicious recipes that you can indulge in whilst enjoying your increased libido and healthier bod. I guess what's not to like, really?

Images: Giphy (2)