Impossible Foods’ Vegan ‘Bloody Burger’ Hits NYC Food Scene

Silicon Valley, Impossible Foods, David Chang, Momofuku, Beyond Meat, Just Mayo, vegan, vegetarian, Leon Kaye, Beyond Meat, Hampton Creek
The juicy Impossible Foods burger is now at Momofuku.

Impossible Foods, the Bay Area fake meat start-up that’s received millions in Silicon Valley venture funding, is now making a splash within the New York food scene. The completely plant-based burger that oozes a primal red color when squeezed is on the menu at one of Momofuku’s restaurants, the foodie blog Eater reported last week.

David Chang, the celebrity chef and cookbook author, was “blown away” when he tried the re-engineered fake burger that tastes, apparently, just like beef.

The ‘bloody burger’ made its debut at Nishi, Chang’s fusion eatery in the Chelsea neighborhood on Eighth Avenue. Nishi’s menu makes it clear that, for now, the burger is available only in limited quantities on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Chang touted the burger on his Tumblr page. The edgy chef, known for his “no reservations, no vegetarian options” ethos and penchant for F-bombs in his cookbook, repeated the same environmental statistics that Impossible Foods cites about this patty. The company claims its burger uses 95 percent less land, 74 percent less water and emits 87 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than its cattle-derived counterpart.

So what is the secret ingredient of this concoction, which includes wheat, coconut oil and potato protein? The heme molecule, part of the metalloprotein hemogoblin that gives blood its rich red color. Abundant in protein, it is a fundamental building block of animal and plant matter. Heme is much more difficult to extract from plant-based materials, yet Impossible Foods’ researchers have cracked that code. The result is a mixture that looks like meat, tastes like meat and, as this YouTube video shows, even sizzles like meat.

Impossible Foods is one of several fake meat start-ups that is scoring Silicon Valley buzz and dollars, while promising to disrupt the global food industry for the better. Beyond Meat, for example, makes a chicken breast alternative derived from pea powder and organic soy. The company’s eight-ounce packages of fake chicken strips has been in stores such as Whole Foods for several years, and recently rolled out its pseudo-beef Beyond Burger patties.

And those meat alternatives can be served with a side of Just Mayo from Hampton Creek, a San Francisco-based food technology company that produces vegan alternatives available for a competitive price at retail chains such as Target. Hampton Creek uses a varietal of yellow peas to mimic the creamy texture that eggs give to mayonnaise. The quality of the Just Mayo product line, and its parent company’s success, so worried the trade group American Egg Board that it lobbied the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to find a way to prevent Just Mayo from appearing on supermarket shelves. That effort failed, along with a lawsuit by Unilever, owner of the mayonnaise brand Hellmann’s, which charged that the egg-less product should not dare call itself “mayo.”

Impossible Foods and its competitors are serving up meatless options that are far better in taste and quality than the pallid options available a decade ago. And to find a convert such as David Chang means that this industry has a bright future ahead – and a tastier, healthier and more sustainable future for the rest of us.

Image credit: Impossible Foods

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Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

3 responses

  1. Your last question assumes your analysis is correct. Your guess as to why prices are lower now do not make enough sense to me.
    I think a much more likely reason has nothing to do with Global Warming.
    You may have noticed that the Mideast is a mess and that lower oil prices put a large strain on the economies and their governments. These countries need income more than future income, so they are selling more to get enough cash now.
    This is a much simpler and more logical cause. Obviously increased supply started the ball rolling. You know that the US imports nearly no crude from the Mideast any longer because we have our own.
    By the way – look at crude sales and note that it is not dropping

  2. The Saudis are smart enough to know that their 90 year oil reserves have to be sold way before the end of the century. In addition, from a geopolitical perspective, they get bargaining chips from the US because low oil prices hurt Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Ecuador. I guess they don’t care it helps China and Pakistan. And it’s good short term for the US economy and the car industry. And the US doesn’t care it hurts Iraq, Nigeria or Indonesia.

  3. Well, that bloody “fake” meat burger is for people who are NEW to eating a plant based hamburger. I was raised as a vegan child( that because parents were new immigrants) for 13 years, then was an American Meateater for 35 years, came down with “chronic disease” been a born again Vegan for last 18 years. Now, after 18 years on a plant based diet, I tried a
    Vegan burger last year made on Maui. It was THICK LIKE MEAT, and it TASTED like meat, more than the fake stuff like Tokury or Garden Burger, and guess what, when you been vegan for DECADES………anything that taste LIKE MEAT,………..make you psychologically want to VOMIT !!!!…….. that was what HAPPENED TO ME. The point of getting away from eating MEAT……IS TO get away from EATING BLOOD AND DEATH !!!!!

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