Led by a Stanford biochemist, Impossible Burger is trying to create a veggie burger that is so meaty you won’t notice it’s not real–right down to the fat and connective tissue. And yes, there will be blood.
The Impossible Burger is made from plants, but it isn’t meant for vegetarians. Instead, the burger–which was made to replicate the real thing in every detail, including plant-based “blood” inside–is intended to convert meat-lovers.
“Our target is hard-core meat-eaters, and our goal is to produce the best burger they’ve ever tasted,” says Impossible Foods founder Patrick Brown, a former Stanford Universitybiochemistry professor. “Our ground beef sizzles, smells, feels, and tastes just like ground beef from an animal.”
Brown started the project after asking himself how he could make the most positive impact on the world. “I quickly realized that one of humanity’s biggest challenges is figuring out how to feed 10 billion people without turning the planet into one giant cow pasture,” he says. Already, the world uses 30% of its dry land to raise animals for food, he learned, and that percentage is predicted to rise.
By some estimates, meat production will double by 2020. Raising livestock already accounts for about 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. Beef has the biggest carbon footprint of any meat, and giving up beef may have more impact than giving up a car. But can really real fake meat successfully compete?
The Impossible Burger team started from scratch to analyze every aspect of a real burger. Part of the key to taste, they found, was blood.
“The molecule responsible for the red look of animal meat also provides an important component of meat’s taste,” Brown says. “Our ‘plant blood’ contains the same molecule, and is the main reason our plant meat tastes like animal meat when you cook it. The only difference is that we get our “blood” from plants instead of an animal.”
The burger also duplicates things like fat and connective tissue so the texture feels right.