Junior Emily Butler devours an Impossible Burger at Shake Shack. Photo: Ashley Myers

When you think of veggie burgers, you probably envision the dry, crumbling texture that comes from a mixture of lentils, soybeans and tofu. The Impossible Burger, a veggie burger made to mimic meat, is just the opposite. It boasts soft, savory “meat” that has a pink interior.

With each version, the Impossible Burger becomes more accessible to a wider audience. For example, the most recent iteration, the Impossible Burger 2.0, is now gluten-free and tastes even more like real meat than the first. “I was really surprised when I tried the Impossible Burger for the first time at how similar it tasted to a normal burger,” said junior Lane Brickley. “If I hadn’t known that it wasn’t real meat ahead of time, I wouldn’t have been able to tell.” 

Impossible Foods aims to reduce the environmental impact of the beef industry on the planet. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the meat production industry contributes to about 14.5% of greenhouse emissions and significantly contributes to deforestation, water pollution and biodiversity loss. To put that into perspective, the greenhouse gas emissions from producing meat contribute to global warming more than all transportation combined.

That’s where plant-based meats come in. Genetically engineered wheat, soy, corn and other common crops can be combined with the muscle protein, myoglobin, to produce plant-based “meat” that is very similar to real meat. The Impossible Burger contains 19 grams of plant-based protein the same as a ground beef patty, but with only 240 calories. Impossible Foods claims that their production method emits 87% less greenhouse gases, requires 95% less land and 75% less water than traditional meat production methods. 

After the Impossible Burger’s debut in New York City restaurant Nishi in July 2016, it has spread from there to major cities throughout the country, including the metropolitan Atlanta area. Burger King recently added an Impossible Burger to select locations and by the end of this year, Burger King plans to expand the Impossible Burger to all 7,200 branches nationwide.

The greater accessibility of vegan options is increasing the number of people who are trying the Impossible Burger simply because they are curious. “I thought it was really good,” said upper school biology teacher Kaylan Haizlip. A pescatarian since childhood, Dr. Haizlip was excited to see another burger option available to her. 

Opinions regarding the Impossible Burger differ among students at Pace. “I’m not vegan, but I love the Impossible Burger and my favorite place to get it is definitely from Yeah Burger,” said junior Sloan Baker. Baker loves the taste of the plant-based burger.

On the other hand, senior Josh Pickman disagrees with the concept of the Impossible Burger. “The point of being vegan or vegetarian is to not eat meat, so why would you want to make the taste and texture of a vegetarian burger similar to that of a meat burger?” said Pickman. 

The Impossible Foods “cook-at-home” “meat” expanded into grocery stores in Southern California on Sept. 20. The company hopes to offer their product for consumers to buy in grocery stores nationwide in the near future. 

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