‘Bleeding’ veggie burger is meant to taste like meat
So what does a meatless, plant-based hamburger taste like? Burger King decided this week to launch a version of its Whopper hamburger made from a plant substitute.
The “Impossible Whopper” is engineered to “bleed” and taste exactly like the real thing.
For America’s two million beef farmers, and its 94m methane-producing cattle, it marked a watershed moment as they become the target of Democrat supporters of the Green New Deal, who blame livestock for greenhouse gas emissions.
The debate has opened up a fissure between those in the rural West and urbanites intent on reducing the number of cattle. According to the United Nations, livestock accounts for up to 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Burger King introduced its doppelgänger burgers this week at 59 outlets in St Louis, Missouri. It hopes to expand them across the US by the end of 2019.
Other companies are expected to follow. Nestlé’s plant-based “Awesome Burger” launches in several months.
The Impossible Whopper is made by extracting DNA from soy plants and inserting it into a genetically engineered yeast. That is fermented to create the key ingredient, heme, which makes the patties appear to bleed and taste like real meat.
The burgers are made by San Francisco-based Impossible Foods, funded with $475m (R6.7bn) from investors, including Bill Gates and Google.
In St Louis, the reviews for the Impossible Whopper were mixed. Burger King released a video of a blind taste test in which diners were shocked that they could not tell the difference from a beef Whopper.
On to the taste: I’ve eaten hundreds of burgers and, on first bite, the plant-based Impossible version was no different. In fact, it was better than many. It looked the same. Same colour, slightly charcoaly on top, brown and very slightly bloody inside. There’s nothing to signify it’s not meat. It even smells like beef.
As you get about half way through, it does seem to get a bit dryer than a regular burger. And, as you go on, the texture seems a little more chewy.
But I’m being picky. I would never have known the “ham” in this hamburger was actually “heme” – or soy leghaemoglobin to give it its full name.
Heme, the central ingredient, is produced using genetically modified yeast.
According to Impossible Foods founder Pat Brown, heme “catalyses reactions in your mouth” and “generates these very potent odour molecules that smell bloody and metallic”.
It fools your taste buds to make you think you’re eating beef.
It’s a vast improvement on another meat-substitute burger I tried. It’s also nice to know you’re consuming a fraction of the cholesterol.
However, the Impossible Whopper is a dollar more expensive and has more sodium in it – so not that great for your blood pressure.
© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2019..