Almost everyone has had a cheeseburger at some point in their lives. Although there are a handful of people out there that prefer not to eat anything with a face, there are few people out there that don’t enjoy the flavor of an all-American cheeseburger.
A California-based firm that calls itself Impossible Foods, which has been around for approximately four years, now takes on the challenge of creating the world’s best vegetarian burger by 2016; one that looks, tastes, and even smells like an actual all-beef cheeseburger and is made from 100% plant material.
The firm has raised over $108 million in funds to support the cause. Among those investing in the cause is Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who is a well-known philanthropist that donates to good causes, such as this one. Google’s Tony Fadell is also on-board with the cause.
The company essentially has to create food substitutes that can still mimic the tastes of meat and dairy, which has been done before, but the goal is to improve on the flavor while keeping the healthy aspect of the vegetarian burger in mind.
“We start with plants – such as grains, greens and beans – and separate proteins, fats, and other nutrients from each one, selecting those that give our foods desirable flavors and textures,” Impossible Foods explains. “We then combine these proteins with vitamins, amino acids, and fats, all from plants, to make our meats and cheeses.”
Unlike many hybrid vegetarian burgers that exist today, which are a plant/meat combo with reduced caloric intake and grease, Impossible Foods will produce a cheeseburger that is made completely from plants that are broken down into the essential components, and other resources will be used to simulate flavors.
For example, unrelated to this current experiment, nuts have been used in the past to simulate dairy taste without actually using milk, which has led to a type of non-dairy cheese that can be used as a healthier alternative to actual cheese, or even for people who are lactose intolerant.
The benefits of a truly vegetarian burger that looks, tastes, and even smells like the real thing will become quickly apparent.
Not only will it taste good and be healthier for you, but it will also be cheaper and more environmentally friendly to produce. This is because rather than spending time and money raising animals for slaughter, we could rely on cheap plants instead. This also means no cholesterol, hormones, or other unhealthy bonuses you’d get from a real cheeseburger. The lower cost will also put the food in more people’s hands more readily.
It sounds like a good idea from the get-go, but is it really possible to make a cheeseburger made 100% from plants that tastes exactly the same as a good old-fashioned one? We have our doubts that it'll fool meat connoisseurs, but we’ll almost certainly find out next year when Impossible Foods delivers its final product.