With more and more people turning to vegetarianism and veganism, food manufacturers have had their work cut out for them in the past few years. And when you have millions of people starving to death, food experts are predicting that we could be on the verge of a major food crisis.
So what is the alternative to eating meat and how can traditional meat eaters be persuaded to eat more plant-based foods?
One US company – Impossible Foods, think they have the answer as they have come up with the world’s first ‘beef’ burger, made entirely out of plants.
The Impossible Burger is currently only available in eight restaurants in the US, but the manufacturers state they have plans to open a giant factory in order to make a million of their burgers every month. By doing this they are hoping to supply their burgers to over 1,000 establishments and supermarkets when the factory is running at optimum ability.
So what does the Impossible Burger actually taste like? Well, according to vegans and meat-eaters, it tastes pretty much like the real thing, and these results were recorded after blind tests, where the participants were not told the burger was plant-based.
In the tests, some meat-eaters thought the burger was real meat, whilst others couldn’t really tell whether it was meat or not.
However, the most encouraging of all the results was that many of the testers said they would choose the Impossible Burger over a beef burger due to the eco-friendly credentials.
What is the Impossible Burger made of?
In order to create the Impossible Burger, the team at Impossible Foods spent around five years studying the reasons why a beef burger is so unique in texture, flavour, smell, aroma and taste.
They then used plants to recreate the original beef burger. Inside the Impossible Burger is wheat, potatoes, coconut oil and an ingredient called heme. Heme is a protein in blood that carries oxygen around the body and also carries iron. It is the vital ingredient that makes meat taste the way it does. Heme makes meat sizzle in the pan, release those delicious aromas, crisp up the edges of steaks etc
But the team at Impossible Foods discovered that the protein heme is also found in plants, including beans and beetroot.
The creation of a plant-based burger is not as simple as merely sprinkling it with tons of heme protein:
“It’s the combination of the right proteins, amino acids, sugars, and fats that come together to create the distinctive flavor of meat,” the team at Impossible Foods says. “But heme is the catalyst for the explosion of chemical reactions that take place when meat is cooked, transforming the simple nutrients found in the raw meat into the unmistakable flavor and aroma of cooking meat.”
And the company are not targeting vegetarians or vegans, they are aiming the Impossible Burger at meat-eaters who want to change their eating habits and look after the environment at the same time.
Environmental benefits of the impossible Burger
Impossible Foods state that their meatless burger is far more environmentally friendly than the meat version, as it creates 87% less greenhouse gases, uses 95% less land and 74% less water.
“The way that we’re producing meat now is incredibly destructive. Our whole mission is to reduce the environmental impact of the food system,” the company stated:
“You can think of this [facility] as the birthplace of a whole new industry that’s going to transform the food system. But this kind of transformation will only happen if the general population decides to give up meat for these alternatives.”
It appears however that it is not just the taste that people need to get used to, the price, despite the product being made from plants, is much more expensive than a meat version.
They are currently priced at around £4.80 for two but considering you can buy 10 burgers for about £1, the environment must really matter to you if you opt for these meatless ones.
The question of a larger production factory in the US may bring down costs in America, and the overall savings to the environment and our health should perhaps have more government backing. But as at present, the government heavily subsidise the meat industry, it doesn’t look as if that is going to change anytime soon.
It would be a shame if this product did not get more publicity and backing, as for once, it is a product that tastes good and enjoyed by vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. It could also be the also to our agricultural problems which are posed by animal farming.