Citing a mission to save meat and the earth, Impossible Foods claim they make delicious, nutritious “meat” from plants.
According to impossiblefoods.com, the company’s mission is to eliminate the need for animals as a means of food production technology, and make the global food system sustainable.
“Animal agriculture occupies nearly half of the world’s land, making it one of the greatest threats to wildlife and biodiversity,” according to the company’s website at impossiblefoods.com.
Raising livestock for food is responsible for 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 25 percent of the world’s fresh water. Impossible Foods makes meat directly from plants, using a small fraction of land, water and energy as meat from animals — so people can keep enjoying their favorite foods without destroying the environment.
During a sabbatical in 2009, Stanford University Professor Dr. Patrick O. Brown, decided to change the course of his career to address the “urgent problem of climate change.”
In particular, he wanted to make the global food system sustainable by producing meat and dairy products from plants, which has a much lower carbon footprint than producing meat and dairy products from animals.
How it’s made
Heme is what makes meat taste like meat. It’s an essential molecule found in every living plant and animal — most abundantly in animals — and something people have been eating and craving since the dawn of humanity.
At Impossible Foods, plant-based heme is made via fermentation of genetically engineered yeast, according to its website.
Impossible Foods started by using the heme-containing protein from the roots of soy plants. It’s called soy leghemoglobin. They took the DNA from soy plants and inserted it into a genetically engineered yeast. They then ferment this yeast—very similar to the way Belgian beer is made. But instead of producing alcohol, the yeast multiplies and produces a lot of heme.
Mark Hamel, co-owner of The Laundry in Fenton said, “We’ve been using it for a few years now. We started after learning about the plant based protein used in the product. On our current menu we use the ‘Impossible Burger’ in a stuffed pepper skillet and spaghetti and meatballs (in our vegetarian section).
“Our new summer menu comes out next week and will not have the stuffed peppers on it, but the meatballs will stay,” Hamel said. “We do not have a burger currently on the menu, although we have in the past. The product comes in packed similar to beef. It looks like beef to the average person. It’s a good product and many vegetarians seem to enjoy it.”
Partnering with Burger King
Burger King’s Impossible Whopper — a patty made with 0 percent meat — will soon be available nationwide.
It was announced in late April that after a successful test run in St. Louis, that Burger King now plans to make the product available in all its 7,200 branches across the United States by the end of this year.
The beefless burger is a partnership with the startup company Impossible Foods, which supplies patties made with heme.
The plan for nationwide distribution is further evidence of plant-based meat going mainstream — a huge deal for those who want to see meat alternatives replace actual meat because of concerns over animal cruelty or climate change. If this keeps scaling up, it could help save hundreds of thousands of animals from suffering on factory farms, and it could reduce the number of methane-producing cattle. It could also combat other problems related to the factory-farming system, like antibiotic resistance.
Other restaurant chains that sell burgers and hamburger products also are expected to join the meatless “Impossible Burger” movement in the very near future.