Impossible: What You Need to Know About Lab Grown Meat

Impossible: What You Need to Know About Lab Grown Meat

There are a lot of reasons to consider alternatives to traditional meat in your daily diet.

Your health is one—both the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association recommend reducing your red meat intake. Another is the environmental impact associated with meat production. And there’s a long list of ethical and moral justifications for cutting (or reducing) meat intake. Whatever your reasoning, there’s never been a better time to explore meat-free options.

The Impossible Burger, on the market since 2016 but recently making headlines with a new and improved formula, is leading the way. And that’s because it seemingly has everything a meat eater wants in a burger—from the smoky, charred crust to a soft, slightly pink center. You like ‘em juicy and a little bloody? This meatless patty can do that. Curious? Good for you. So were we. Herewith, a few questions you might have and the answers you need before chowing down.


What does it really taste like?

Honestly? Like beef. I’ve ordered veggie burgers now and then and while some are good, they’re burgers by name only—usually vegetables and grains ground up and packed into a patty. It can be a good sandwich, but let’s be real … it’s not a burger. The Impossible burger has the mouthfeel and savory taste of real beef, if slightly diluted. When made up on a bun with lettuce and tomato and a spicy mayo, the toppings can somewhat overshadow the meat’s flavor. But pull off a bit of the patty itself and you’ll find it’s a good burger. Maybe not the best beef you’ve ever had, but good. And unless you’re a connoisseur of beef, you may not know you’re not eating actual ground cow. 

What’s it made of?

To make such a realistic facsimile of meat takes about 21 different ingredients. Impossible’s newest burger contains a blend of soy and potato proteins, along with sunflower oil and coconut oil. The oil is the burger’s binder and fat source, providing a satisfying sizzle when it hits the pan or grill. The realistic meat taste (and the “bloody juice,” if you will) comes from genetically engineered yeast. The yeast is fermented, the same way Belgian beer is made, but instead of producing alcohol, this produces heme, a naturally iron-rich substance found in both plants and animals that makes meat taste, well, “meaty.”

How does the nutrition stack up?

When it comes to calories, a 4-ounce Impossible Burger 2.0 patty clocks in at 240, whereas 4 ounces of ground beef will be anywhere from 250 to 300 calories, depending on the fat content. The Impossible patty has a touch less protein than a typical burger, but it also has less of the bad stuff like cholesterol and sodium. One thing the Impossible burger has that ground beef doesn’t? Three grams of fiber per serving. 

Where is it?

Early in 2019, Impossible rolled out it’s newest version, the 2.0, which is the company's first product update since the launch of the original burger in 2016. Available at boutique burger restaurants in big cities nationwide, it’s also made its way into such national chains as Burger King, Red Robin, Qdoba and even Little Caesars pizza.

How much does it cost?

Prices tend to vary depending on your location and the individual restaurant, but there does seem to be a slight price premium. If a traditional burger is priced around $8, plan for an Impossible Burger to cost you about $10. Perhaps because it’s still a novelty of sorts, or restaurants aren’t buying enough to bring down the cost-per-patty.

Times are changing: sales of plant-based meats rose 24% in 2018, whereas sales of animal meats grew just 2% in the same period. (Source: Nielsen and the plant-based foods association)
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