You’ve heard of the Impossible Burger, but have you tried one? My kids are lobbying to get to Burger King to try one (I think it’s more of a ploy to get me to take them to Burger King period), which means they don’t realize they’ve already eaten a plant-based burger, but they have. It looked like a regular cheeseburger to them with spread and a tasty brioche bun, but it was animal-free meat, and they liked it.
Here’s the thing, once tasted and approved, they didn’t care that it was a plant-based burger instead of ground beef. They’re far from alone, as a recent white paper commissioned by Impossible Foods found Millennials and those younger are turning to plant-based foods more and more. The paper surprised even those at Impossible Foods with how fast American feelings toward meat are changing. Meat and potatoes are no longer at the center of American identity, and some of the biggest mindset change is happening in the Midwest.
But how does it taste? I’ve had three Impossible Burgers and one plant-based burger from another company. All were good. Did it taste exactly like a ground beef burger? No, but it was close. We haven’t tried Burger King’s version yet, but we probably will. Impossible Burgers are showing up on restaurant menus across the country – as we’ve found in our travels – and we see as a welcome alternative to the standard greasy road trip food. I mean, we eat that, too, but it’s nice to have options.
For Redwood City-based startup Impossible Foods, the shift is more about ending the environmental impacts of how we eat. Animal agriculture is a massive contributor to climate change through CO2, and creating plant-based products uses less water, fertilizer, and labor. In addition, animal life is spared. Fish are a clear example of food production causing tremendous decreases in species populations, according to Impossible Foods.
Educating people on the environmental impacts of meat production may sway some toward vegetarianism, but a much more rapid shift will come from making a plant-based product meat eaters want to buy, according to Impossible Foods. They have thoughts on expanding to other meats, like chicken nuggets, but now, as a small start up, they’re focusing on making their burgers something that top tier chefs want to serve.
Impossible Foods plans to commission two reports a year, and a future topic likely will include male perceptions of a masculine diet, which appear to be shifting as more athletes espouse the benefits of plant-based eating.