A company called Impossible Foods has been working on a very special vegan burger for some time, and their recipe is entering the mainstream. That's because it has achieved the impossible—they make vegan meat that "bleeds." The juicy meat replacement is plant-based, but designed to have the same smell, consistency, and juiciness as a burger made from ground beef. And the company really thinks they've come close to creating a food that could overtake meat in the burger department, according to their CEO, Pat Brown.
"We’re after 100% of the market, not a niche of people avoiding meat or being health conscious," Brown told The Guardian. "To capture the whole market you have to deliver whatever it is that consumers value from that category of product. People have been making veggie burgers forever but not trying to make something that replicates the crave-able experience that meat lovers enjoy."
Brown may not be far off. One of the most famous burger franchises in the U.S. is giving the Impossible Burger a shot in their sliders. White Castle has announced Impossible Sliders will be served at special locations in the New York, New Jersey, and Chicago areas, at 140 restaurants in all. Grubstreet reports that the sliders are a way for the company to test how their plant-based "meat" will do with a wider audience of consumers, and Brown says they'll be observing sales carefully to see how they can “popularize plant-based meat with mainstream burger lovers.”
One Impossible Slider costs $1.99. It's topped with pickles, onions, smoked cheddar, and sandwiched by a classic square White Castle bun. The fast-food joint is the first big chain to try out Impossible Foods, but the meat is available at Bareburger, Umami Burger, Fatburger, and some fancier restaurants, like Momofuku Nishi. It's possible that the appearance in a fast food eatery will do more to quickly acclimate people to vegan eating than anyone else could.
Frankly, the Impossible Burger looks just as good as the real thing:
But even if the White Castle pairing doesn't help grow the company, they're doing great. They recently had to scale-up their plant in Oakland, as demand for the burgers has risen. They now produce seven million burgers every month, and have money coming in from investors like Bill Gates. They even have enough money to potentially hire someone to lobby for their company in Washington D.C. with politicians.
That's a mixed bag. The company has taken some heat, as they sought F.D.A. approval for their product. The ingredient that makes their meat "bleed" is called a secret sauce. It's actually not so secret; the sauce is made from soy leghemoglobin, which comes from the root nodules of the soybean plant. Though humans consume lots of soy, this particular part of the plant had never been tested as being safe for human consumption. The New York Times outlined the difficulties facing the company in 2017 as they sought approval, mainly, specific challenges that are popping up as people experiment more with food tech.
They're now in the clear, and expanding quickly. It's kind of amazing what can be accomplished when you're offering something delicious that has the potential to change the world.