Veganism and to a lesser extent, vegetarianism, collectively rebranded as “plant based” eating is growing at an exponential rate, especially among millennials. This unprecedented growth has attracted the attention of high profile celebs such as Bill Gates who has invested in one of the many plant based or “fake meat” successes, the Impossible Burger. The fast food staple seems to be reinventing itself as a healthy, sustainable alternative to its animal predecessor proclaiming its virtues as being better for the environment and better for our health. Far less water and animal feed are needed to produce these burgers and plants have the added benefit of absorbing carbon dioxide from the air compared to the gaseous emissions from Methane producing cows. All very laudable…so far.
A plant based alternative to the conventional burger is nothing new though, the 1980’s saw the rise of the veggie burger with Burger King jumping on board with their own Spicy Bean Burger (a whopping 62g of carbohydrates, 9g of which were sugars and the patty being fried in the same oil as the fish) which as a nutritionally naive borderline veggie in my 20’s found them to taste pretty good, nothing like meat, but isn’t that the point? If someone is choosing to eat plant based, then eat plants, as they are supposed to be, plants. Meat eaters wouldn’t dream of attempting to fashion a steak into a butternut squash so why create a plant based burger that looks, feels and tastes like ground beef?
What isn’t so apparent is that this is the product of genetically engineered yeast and soy plant roots to create a plant based Heme (a metallic tasting compound found in blood) in an attempt to create the taste and smell of meat and the addition of plant proteins to emulate the texture of ground beef. The result, a burger that is so convincing it may as well be meat. Somehow I don’t think vegans or vegetarians will be licking their lips in anticipation.
According to the creators of the Impossible Burger, it is designed to convert meat eaters, but is it safe? Soy roots or the genetically engineered yeast used are not commonly eaten by humans and have not yet been completely tested according to the FDA in America. Despite this, the makers are scaling their production from 300,000 pounds to 1 million pounds of “meat” per month to keep up with demand. Science is now going one step further, by replicating meat at a cellular level by taking biopsies from living animals and growing meat in a lab. Despite all of these products being touted as a healthier planet friendly option for vegans, carnivores and omnivores alike, they are still being wrapped in carb loaded buns and served with carb loaded fries cooked in hexane extracted oils and washed down with high fructose corn syrup laden sodas with the addition of unnecessary packaging.
The Strange Science of the Impossible Burger
It’s called the Impossible Burger and it looks, feels, tastes and smells like ground beef, even though it’s made entirely of plants. It’s all thanks to science and genetically engineered yeast. WIRED explores how close it comes to the real thing and if it’s 100% safe.
Fake Meat: The Growth in Popularity of Artificial Meat
Fake meat is growing in popularity. But, should lab-grown, man-made – and even plant-based meats that bleed fake blood – be called meat? And should livestock producers be worried?
Why McDonald’s Doesn’t Have a Vegan Meat Burger in the US
As consumer diets continue to shift toward healthier food, plant-based alternatives are becoming more and more popular. Fast-food chains like Burger King, White Castle, and Carl’s Jr. are rolling out fake meat options. But will Mcdonald’s – the world’s most famous fast-food restaurant – jump on board?
Harmful Chemicals May Be Lurking in Fake Meat
A consumer group warns about fake meat. Breanne Kincaid, Centre for Consumer Research, on potential dangers with plant-based meat products.