Impossible Foods has invented a burger it claims looks like beef, tastes like beef, even sizzles and bleeds like beef. But, as you may have guessed by now, contains zero percent beef.
Once a science experiment in Silicon Valley, the Impossible Burger is now available for consumption in Houston at Chris Shepherd's twin Montrose restaurants, the Hay Merchant and Underbelly. Last Friday was the plant-based burger’s Texas debut, a state that has more cattle than most other states have people.
"One taste, and I knew I wanted it on my menus," Shepherd said.
The burger “meat” is mainly composed of wheat, potato protein, coconut oil, and something called heme—the secret ingredient that adds a sense of “meatiness.” While heme is present in animal muscle, Impossible Foods gets theirs from plants, using a fermentation process. Adding it is the key to making the burger desirable to those with carnivorous tendencies.
You might be wondering why a company would target meat lovers rather than specifically playing to vegetarians. Patrick Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods says that for half of meat-loving consumers in a blind taste test, the taste is enough to win them over. “We can make anything a cow can make, and then make it better,” Brown says. “A cow didn’t evolve to be delicious, but we did.”
And there are clear advantages over meat: The burger contains no cholesterol but provides the same amount of protein as your average burger. Aside from health benefits, the company hopes with more sustainable food practices, we can eventually take a bite out of climate change. Producing a plant-based burger comes with a much lower carbon footprint, compared to its meaty counterpart. It requires 95 percent less land, 74 percent less water, and creates 87 percent less greenhouse gas to produce an Impossible Burger than a beef one.
“What they love is it's delicious, nutritional, sustainable and affordable,” Brown says. “Our goal is to outperform on all those factors, and make it really a no-brainer.”
Brown says the company’s plans for Texas don’t end here. Impossible Foods will continue its rollout in Texas this month, and an announcement is expected to be made in the coming weeks of where else diners can taste the Impossible.