Environment

Meatless burger uses bloody special ingredient to replicate the real thing

Meatless burger uses bloody sp...
The Impossible Burger was recently added as a regular menu item at New York City eatery Momofuku Nishi
The Impossible Burger was recently added as a regular menu item at New York City eatery Momofuku Nishi
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The Impossible Burger cooks like a regular beef burger
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The Impossible Burger cooks like a regular beef burger
Lab-made, meatless Impossible Burger is claimed to have the same look, smell and taste of a regular beef burger
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Lab-made, meatless Impossible Burger is claimed to have the same look, smell and taste of a regular beef burger
The Impossible Burger is claimed to have the same look, smell and taste of a regular beef burger
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The Impossible Burger is claimed to have the same look, smell and taste of a regular beef burger
The Impossible Burger uses yeast-derived heme to replicate actual meat
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The Impossible Burger uses yeast-derived heme to replicate actual meat
The Impossible Burger was recently added as a regular menu item at New York City eatery Momofuku Nishi
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The Impossible Burger was recently added as a regular menu item at New York City eatery Momofuku Nishi
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While food scientists have been in pursuit of the perfect lab-made hamburger, most of the results have been poor imitations or prohibitively expensive. Impossible Foods is the latest alternative food company attempting to tickle the tastebuds with its meatless Impossible Burger, which is claimed to look, smell and taste like real meat. The secret ingredient? Heme, a component of the red pigment in blood.

Heme is a compound found abundantly in meat that makes blood red and delivers oxygen to muscles. It is also one of the things that gives meat its uniquely meaty flavor. But heme is also a basic building block of life and can be found in plants as well, such as clover, the roots of soybeans and yeast.

For the Impossible Burger, the company derives its heme from machine-purified yeast that comes out looking and tasting something like blood. The heme is carried by a protein (and listed ingredient) called leghemoglobin. Other ingredients include common meat substitutes that can be found in other veggie burgers, such as textured wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, soy protein isolate and gum gels.

When cooked, the meatless patty caramelizes on the outside, while the texture and color inside changes throughout, transforming from a raw product to something claimed to be much like a cooked burger. An Impossible Burger cooked rare is even said to leave "blood" residue on the plate, which probably won't appeal to a lot of vegetarians.

The meatless burger was recently introduced as a regular menu item at New York City eatery Momofuku Nishi for US$12 (with fries), which is considerably cheaper than the $330,000 lab-grown, cultured meat burger unveiled in 2013 by scientists at Maastricht University. But the company is working to lower the cost of the burger below the current price for ground beef.

There are also plans to introduce the Impossible Burger at restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and eventually sell it in grocery stores. And the company says its research extends to producing plant-based versions of any kind of meat, including fish, pork, chicken and dairy products.

Like many companies seeking to produce lab-grown or plant-based meat, the motivation for Impossible Foods is largely an environmental one. Traditional beef production eats up a lot of resources while producing waste byproducts and greenhouse gasses, while the demand for meat is growing faster than the population.

Source: Impossible Foods

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6 comments
William H Lanteigne
They need to figure out how to make it from algae.
Chuck Anziulewicz
I always find it a bit odd that vegetarians are always trying to come up with meatless versions of ... MEAT. They want it to taste like meat and look like meat, as long as it ISN'T meat. Isn't it ironic?
Robt
@Chuck These guys are businesspeople. They know that there is a huge market for this kind of product that goes way beyond vegetarians. Millions of carnivores (like me!) are unable to eat meat for health reasons, and believe me when I say that the craving for meat is very strong :) I'd kill for a burger that looks and tastes like it came from a cow but is made from something other than meat...
kmccune
My quandary is that I need meat to survive and I do not like the idea of killing animals to get it ,I have participated in too many butcher sessions( an old country mainstay) and its hell ,let the animals live !
Ralph Oldman
Chuck's comment is valid for ethical vegans but there are probably more of us who choose a vegan diet to control our cholesterol and overall health rather than take statin's that ultimately really don't seem to be working out well.
John Birk
I suspect that in the future manufactured meat will be tastier and healthier than conventional meat and people will look at meat eating as an ancient custom, though there will always be some who insist for social or religious reasons to continue to eat meat.
The upshot, people eat healthier and the planet's Eco system improves, a win, win situation.
A note, I eat meat and enjoy it, however I am looking forward to eating manufactured meat and discover how it willkeepimproving as time goes on.
Scientia Non Domus, (Knowledge has No Home)
antiguajohn