‘Fake’ burger that could save the world

Veggie: A non-meat burger by Beyond Meat is suitable for the 3.5 million vegans in the UK.

Is a meat-free diet the best way to preserve our planet? The value of Impossible Burger, which makes a convincing “alternative meat” burger, has soared to $2 billion.

It looks like meat, oozes “blood” when bitten into, and even sizzles in the frying pan. But this new type of burger is 100% meat-free. And the industry is booming.

Impossible Burger, a plant-based meat start-up, has just raised $300 million from investors. It is now valued at around $2 billion.

Meanwhile, rivals Beyond Meat, make burgers containing yellow peas, potato starch and beetroot juice.

Beyond Meat hopes that having its products readily available alongside traditional meat products will “help people on their journey” to eating less meat.

Imitation meat has already made a big impact in the US, where many fast-food stores now sell the meat-free Impossible Burger.

Its creator, biochemist Patrick O. Brown, believes it can have a profound effect on the planet. “For me, the primary motivation was the huge environmental impact [of meat-eating],” he says.

Indeed, producing an Impossible Burger uses 95% less land and 74% less water than a typical beef patty.

According to a study published in June, avoiding meat and dairy is the “single biggest way” for an individual to reduce their impact on the environment.

The meat and dairy industries are responsible for 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Could vegan “meat” save the planet?

It burgers belief

It is possible, some argue. Imitation meat is a game changer in encouraging people to adopt a meat-free diet. In fact, Impossible Foods, the company behind the Impossible Burger, wants to completely replace animals as a food production technology by 2035.

Steady on, others respond. Meat-eating is enshrined in a myriad of cultures and will not just die out. Agriculture presents huge environmental problems, but solutions must be sought in a range of sectors, including energy and transport. Fake-meat burgers are no silver bullet.

You Decide

  1. Would you eat a fake meat burger?

Activities

  1. Consider this statement: “It is immoral to eat animals.” Write down three reasons in support of this statement, and three reasons against. Discuss your ideas with your classmates. Which side do you agree with?

Some People Say...

“Being a vegan is a first-world phenomenon, completely self-indulgent.”

Anthony Bourdain

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Meatless burger company, Impossible Burger, has raised $300 million from investors. Their rivals, Beyond Burgers, are available to buy in 350 Tesco supermarkets around the country.
What do we not know?
We do not know if the number of vegans and vegetarians will increase in coming years. Impossible Burgers have been described as tasting “remarkably like beef”, however it is up to consumers to judge for themselves.

Word Watch

Beetroot juice
This is the ingredient which gives the burger its meat-like bloodiness.
Fast-food
One of the burger’s most high-profile distributors is the fast-food chain White Castle.
Impossible Burger
Different from the burger Tesco is selling. Its key ingredient is a molecule called “heme”. This is usually found in meat, but the burger’s creators have patented a plant-based source.
Study
“Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers” by J. Poore and T. Nemecek.