Hannah Johnstone Looks Into The Rise Of The Vegan Burger.
Burger King has begun trialling its new meat-free ‘Impossible Whopper’ burger at 59 restaurants in St Louis. The plant-based burger was formulated by Impossible Foods - a california-based company focused on producing realistic alternatives to meat.
The main aim of the Whopper is to mimic real meat, with the burger even bleeding like actual meat. It is made using genetically modified yeast that creates heme - a protein which simulates the taste of meat. In doing this, Burger King want to attract meat eaters to make the switch to a plant-based alternative whilst still providing them with the meat flavour.
“We’ve done sort of a blind taste test with our franchisees, with people in the office, with my partners on the executive team, and virtually nobody can tell the difference.” - Christopher Finazzo, Burger King North America President
Having had a vegetarian burger on their menu for many years, the ‘Impossible Whopper’ intends to appeal not just to those followed a plant-based diet but also to even the most dedicated of carnivores. This follows the lead of restaurants such as Beyond Burger, who have seen an increase in sales of plant-based burgers due to their mimicry of the meat flavour.
Impossible Foods are concerned primarily with environmental sustainability, citing animal agriculture as a major source of environmental and climate destruction. Impossible Foods released a mission statement in which they said:
“We’re making meat using plants, so that we never have to use animals again.”
This highlights the excessive use of land and water and the production of greenhouse gases associated with livestock. In 2018, Oxford University conducted research that proved avoiding meat and dairy products is the largest way of reducing our impact on the planet as it reduces the habitat cleared for livestock and the emissions produced by these livestock.
A downside to the burger is, however, that it is currently one dollar more expensive than it’s beef counterpart. This is to be expected, as formulating such a scientifically challenging burger takes a large amount of time and resources.
If this article has been of interest to you, you may enjoy reading Waking The Kraken: The Meat And Dairy Industries Hitting Back At Plant Based Foods.
This raises the question, must plant-based alternatives mimic meat in order for them to be enjoyable? It would, perhaps, be more cost efficient to produce a plant-based burger which is tasty in its own right and not due to its similarities to meat.
The creation of such burgers has been a major source of competition for farmers, with Eric Bohl of the Missouri Farm Bureau stating that:
“Farmers and ranchers need to take notice and get ready to compete. I’ve tasted it with my own mouth, and this fake meat is ready for prime time.”
This coincides with Missouri’s ban on products made from tofu, soy or other alternatives branding themselves as ‘meat’, which took effect in August 2018, due to a backlash from livestock farmers.
Ultimately, the ‘Impossible Whopper’ is a huge step in the right direction to reducing our environmental impact on the world, making the effort to appeal to not just vegetarians but also meat-eaters. Many would argue that one dollar, or 78p, is a small price to pay for the preservation of our habitats and reduction of climate-changing emissions. We’re sure many will be keeping a look our for its arrival in the U.K. | Tru. 🌱
We are a conscious publication and platform providing social-ethical insight and knowledge about topics that matter | Ethical insight, one place. www.tru.org.uk
We are funded by readers like you. To support our work and journalism, donate here