Disintermediate cows: Simulate a hamburger like the Apollo program
October 1, 2019 12:12 AM   Subscribe

Can a Burger Help Solve Climate Change? - "Eating meat creates huge environmental costs. Impossible Foods thinks it has a solution."
They made their burger sustainable: the Impossible Burger requires eighty-seven per cent less water and ninety-six per cent less land than a cowburger, and its production generates eighty-nine per cent less G.H.G. emissions. They made it nutritionally equal to or superior to beef.
also btw...
posted by kliuless (70 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I love a good meat substitute now and then but I wish people would just learn to cook non-meats in an interesting way instead of trying to replace them.

I couldn't believe how many ingredients and dishes actually existed until I started reading vegan/veg cookbooks. I feel like I'd seriously missed out on like 90% of the world's foods
posted by Chaffinch at 1:07 AM on October 1, 2019 [13 favorites]

I'm actually really excited about these new options, I think that something that's close enough to meat to make meat eaters want to eat it instead of meat is a real win for the environment. From the first article: "The transportation and processing of plant-based products like the Impossible Whopper do have an environmental impact, but it’s insignificant compared with the transportation and processing of meat, Mr. Poore said. “No other change in your lifestyle can have such a dramatically positive and crosscutting benefit.” "This, so much this.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 1:30 AM on October 1, 2019 [18 favorites]

There's definitely a virtuous circle happening; as interest in vegetarian/veganism increases, more veggie cookbooks, blogs, articles appear, and vegetarian dishes become better known, and more varied, interesting and excellent. I'm cooking so much more vegetarian and a large part of it is that the recipes are way more appealing than they were ten years ago, even five years ago. This benefits both people who want meat substitutes and those who just want good vegetables.

Personally, my single food squick is that the idea of fake dairy, yoghurts and especially cheese, turns my stomach something horrible, and this super fake meat is pushing similar gross buttons for me. I admit this is incredibly irrational - to find nut milk cheese gross while happily eating the rotten lactation of cows is not a logically defensible position - but there it is. Gimme the veggie patty please!
posted by ominous_paws at 1:56 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

If they can match or beat the price, taste, and "mouthfeel" of actual beef, I don't see how the beef industry can survive.
posted by pracowity at 2:32 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

I actually have no doubt fake meats will eventually dominate real meat... which reminds me, I should put my money where my mouth is (lol) and start buying shares in Beyond / Impossible...

Basically improvements in real meat will be very slow and messy - genetically crossing varieties to get better meat characteristics is a slow and uncertain process.

In contrast, the fake meat industry could operate more like the snack food or fast food industry - they can iterate the individual ingredients and formulation to get an ever more perfect and addictive product. I would not be surprised if in as little as 5 or 10 years you will find people saying that fake meat tastes better - not that it's "like real meat but better" but rather that it's branched off in a different direction that real meat can't follow. Just like how a potato crisp or McDonald's french fry bears little resemblance to a baked potato.
posted by xdvesper at 2:48 AM on October 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

This benefits both people who want meat substitutes and those who just want good vegetables.

While I definitely like the idea of people who eat meat eating less of it due to the environmental impact, I'm not actually sure the Impossible Burger and so on are good for vegetarians as a group. The ones motivated solely by environmental concerns, definitely. But the rest of us? I've had an Impossible Burger--it was taking up the slot on a restaurant menu that would have previously been a bean burger and I, for one, would rather have the bean burger.

(Weirdly, it reminded me of some really awful frozen Safeway-brand veggie burgers I bought in college. So I guess the lesson there is that those veggie burgers of 15 years ago that everyone derided were closer to the "real thing" than anyone thought. And it turns out that vegetarians aren't all missing eating meat (if they ever did to begin with). Who would have thought? /sarcasm)
posted by hoyland at 3:03 AM on October 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

If they can match or beat the price, taste, and "mouthfeel" of actual beef, I don't see how the beef industry can survive.

The beef industry in Australia will give in to fake meat over its own dead carcass. Beef farming makes up 50% of the national agricultural activity and much of that is wild grazing on huge leasehold properties which cannot support crops. Representing farming is a powerful political position particularly with compulsory voting. Hundreds of Australian rural towns would collapse without beef farming. And tens of thousands in every electorate would vote strongly against that.

I wouldn't stop eating real meat because there was good-tasting fake meat around. Fake meat as per the article, is not nutritionally superior. However I would happily reduce my beef consumption from once a week or so, to once a month or less if they banned all land clearing, and grain-fed beef, thereby making range bred much more expensive.

All that said, arguing over the potential popularity of a new food type is like arguing over what might be on the Titatinic's menu on the return crossing. We don't even know if the leisurely contemplation of dinner products in the refrigerator aisle will still be a thing in ten or twenty years time. I'm not banking on there being such civility, let alone produce.
posted by Thella at 3:13 AM on October 1, 2019 [8 favorites]

Now that Impossible Burger is everywhere, I said to myself "Wasn't there some hubbub about them at some point?" So I did a little googling. I'm not touching that stuff, or the company who makes it. They must have some incredible marketing department.
posted by humboldt32 at 4:12 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Would you mind sharing why, for those of us who are apparently not as good at googling as you are? I see a few complaints that their Impossible Burger is basically no healthier than a regular beef burger, but I don't see what's objectionable about the company itself.
posted by teraflop at 4:19 AM on October 1, 2019 [13 favorites]

I had an Impossible Burger! It was...well, to me it tasted about like a mediocre hamburger. Not like a junior high cafeteria one, but certainly not your fancy pub burger. As per the reporting, it does develop a crust, as other veggie burgers really don't, and that is what gives it its meaty quality. TBH I liked it, would probably order again if I were at that particular place.

In a university district there tend to be a lot of bars that serve fancy burgers as their main thing - not the kind of places where they really bothered to have much of a vegetarian option, and definitely the kind of place where the sandwiches are designed around cheese/savories/sauces/meat. For this purpose, I think the impossible burger fits in pretty well - it's a better substitute than any of the other really meat-like burgers I've had.

I assume that it's not really going to substitute at places that tend to have good veggie burgers, like made from scratch ones, but most of the fancier bars around here had, if anything, an anemic pre-packaged black bean burger that didn't really suit any of the toppings.

Oh, and I'd forgotten -I have also had the Impossible Sausages! A local pizza place has a pasta dish with them. They're really good, actually - they don't taste perfectly meaty, but they have that crumbly herby quality that good Italian sausage does and which the next best widely distributed veggie sausages (Tofurky or Field Roast, depending on your preferences) totally lack. I feel actually enthused about the sausages and will probably buy them once they're available around here.

I eat mostly vegetarian - I'll have meat if it's a special dish at a restaurant or a holiday. Folks often look at fake meat and say "why do you want that, there are so many delicious vegetables" and, well, I cook several meals every day. It's not like I'm locking in to only vegetarian sausages forever.
posted by Frowner at 4:23 AM on October 1, 2019 [7 favorites]

I was a vegetarian for 22 years and then went back to eating meet about 6 years ago. I've tried both Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat and think they're both dreadful and nothing close to meat. In both instances I would have preferred a "traditional" veggie burger.

If they can match or beat the price, taste, and "mouthfeel" of actual beef, I don't see how the beef industry can survive.

Sorry, but I LOL'd at this. They're never gonna match the "I'll eat whatever the fuck I want" attitude that the majority of meat eaters I know express with each bite.
posted by dobbs at 4:31 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

If they can match or beat the price, taste, and "mouthfeel" of actual beef, I don't see how the beef industry can survive.

They are not really trying though. They are only going after ground beef which is probably the easiest target. I'd say they will never be able to compete with a properly aged and cooked premium cut of steak but never statements tend to be proven wrong eventually. However, the eventually in this case feels a long long way away.

I've cooked the Beyond Burger once and thought it was pretty good. Somewhere around a chicken burger with more crisping. Following the cooking instructions resulted in a more well done burger than the medium rare I prefer.
posted by srboisvert at 4:36 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am a fan. My reasons are below.

1. I like cheeseburgers and these taste more like a cheeseburger than a beanburger.
2. It's nicer to the cow.
3. It's more sustainable.
4. (The weird one) Maybe this is just me, but every once in a while with a real burger there's like a little fragment of bone or something hard or a weird texture. You know, because they're grinding up an animal. These don't have that.
posted by condour75 at 4:45 AM on October 1, 2019 [16 favorites]

I'm in camp "stop trying to recreate the unhealthiest way to consume beef in the form of unhealthiest way to be vegetarian." And I'm unconvinced with a lot of the environmental claims once these things have been sourced, processed, packaged, etc. As horrible as cows are, the calculations just feel like there's a lot of hand-waving around distribution, packaging and storage. If your primary concerns about beef production are purely environmental, there are better ways to do it.

That said, I live in a place where there are a lot better plant-based options, and I do remember how much harder this used to be.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:03 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Having had a couple of Impossible Whoppers now, I think it is an entirely adequate replacement for fast food burgers, and I would not at all mind if McD/BK/Wendy's et. al. went completely over to substitute meat. And I think just that conversion would be a HUGE win for sustainability and environmental issues, since those companies are responsible for such a big part of meat consumption in the US. I don't think it can or will replace beef entirely, but the conversion of the fast food industry would be quite a plus.
posted by briank at 5:05 AM on October 1, 2019 [25 favorites]

I saw a report saying that basically, industrial meat production from animals will be gone by 2040. I'm sorry, I had the link open in a tab, and then accidentally deleted it along with all the links I had saved for a grand social housing post.

At first I was skeptical, but the arguments were very sound: artificial meat will out-compete meat-meat on price in a few years. And that is relevant because by far the most meat in the world is used in processed food and big food doesn't give a damn about farms or farmers, they care about price. Mostly because consumers care about price. You don't want your lovely steak or brisket to be artificial, but if you are buying a frozen lasagna or a burger at McD's, you just want it cheap and OK. Same with dairy. So basically, you will still be able to get grass-fed beef and organic milk and cheese from small providers at a price, but all the industrial stuff will disappear, and the jobs and communities that support it. Just like coal. The political consequences will be interesting.
posted by mumimor at 5:11 AM on October 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

Whatever happened to cloned vat meat?
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:25 AM on October 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

Seriously, I personally cannot wait for cloned vat meat. I want all of the meat with none of the sad.
posted by schroedinger at 5:27 AM on October 1, 2019 [15 favorites]

I'm in the camp of making the transition to meatless as easy for people who are used to eating meat is the best way to go, so imitating burgers is a good start which makes the other options eventually more attractive as well. I like all kinds of faux meat and/or veggie alternatives that don't try to duplicate meat at all but keep some density of texture and I think replacing meat will work in the long run,even if there is a lot of fuss about it in the short term. People will end up doing what the rest of their peers do, for the most part, so getting more people to try meatless alternatives is all to the good.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:29 AM on October 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

They're never gonna match the "I'll eat whatever the fuck I want" attitude that the majority of meat eaters I know express with each bite.

That's why price is the important part of this thing. A lot of those "I'll eat whatever the fuck I want" guys are not exactly rich. If a veggie burger tastes good, costs less than animal parts, and is marketed properly (more "Super-Spicy Man-Sized Taste Bomb Heart Attack!" and less "PETA Approved!"), I can see a lot of those guys lining up for three at a time. After all, french fries are vegan (except, apparently, at McDonald's in America) and the same meat-cult boys always eat as many fries as they can afford.
posted by pracowity at 5:31 AM on October 1, 2019 [7 favorites]

Yeah, the "will artificial meat 100% replace all actual meat?" question is misleading. The real question should be, will artificial meat replace the 99.9% of meat that essentially serves as an apathetic placeholder? The fast food, the frozen meals, the bulk meat packs at the supermarket for people who want a family deal rather than gourmet qualities. That's where the impossibly high demand for meat really comes from; make headways against that, and you might see a serious blow struck against the most abusive and environmentally unsound sorts of factory farming.

For that to happen, two demands need to be met:

1. Is it significantly cheaper than real meat?
2. Does it taste enough like real meat to satisfy?

The answer to #1 is no, but that will change rapidly; the answer to #2, for me, is probably already yes, and our methods will only get better. (I would not be satisfied with a world of only Beyond Burgers, but the Impossible Burger is really damn solid. Not as a gourmet-level entry—though I'd love to see them try and push for this—but as a response to my body's occasional hankering for beefy-ass beef.)

Will this convert people to vegetarianism? No, and that's fine. Honestly, "high-class vegan blogs" and "replacements for tasty meat" are not in competition. The vegan blogs helped me learn how to make the majority of my meals meat-free, and the tasty meat replacements will help me with the rest. And no matter how fancy I learn how to cook, I will always occasionally want a Big Mac and some McNuggets, and if I can eat those without the animal cruelty part, all the better.

I definitely hear the complaints about places replacing veggie burgers with Impossible products, though. Veggie burgers are delicious! I'd love to see a renaissance of them being marketed, not as "downgrade" options for vegetarians, but as delicious alternatives in and of themselves. The way Chipotle casually offers two vegetarian options amidst all their meat, since it turns out there's more than one way to eat a non-meat meal.
posted by rorgy at 5:37 AM on October 1, 2019 [30 favorites]

It's not like I'm locking in to only vegetarian sausages forever.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a vegetarian sausage slapping onto a cafeteria plate — forever.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:41 AM on October 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

If they can match or beat the price, taste, and "mouthfeel" of actual beef, I don't see how the beef industry can survive.

Um. Come talk to me when they manage to match or beat any one of those three things, because they sure ain't doing it today. I'm just gonna channel The Whelk here: "Vegan meat substitute!" they chirp, "Just like hamburger!" Smiles forced, eyes hollow and unconvincing, pleading with you to accept this lie they themselves cannot be forced to believe.
posted by Mayor West at 5:43 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Whatever happened to the cloned vat meat?

♫ The enzymes, the SuperMeat, evening TV? ♬
posted by Mayor West at 5:47 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Whatever happened to the cloned vat meat?

It turned out that cloned vat meat was people.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:51 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm not a vegetarian, but Ms. Dewd is trying to be (for environmental reasons), and we've been trying 'f[ake ]meat' for a while now. We're liking the Beyond Burgers and, even more, the Beyond sausage. Yesterday, the co-op had Beyond ground beef, which I hadn't seen before, and so I made a meatloaf. I like the mouth feel of the 'hamburger' and the sausage, but the ground 'beef' did not have a very satisfying feel, and I think that's important. The taste is there, though. I just need to put it in a different vehicle. I've found better ground beef substitutes. Field Roast is not an especially exciting sausage, but it's good filler for a dish that is not focused on the 'meat'. I think Boca Burgers taste better than most fast-food burgers, but that's not a high bar.
Most people I know who have tried Beyond like it, but one guy we know doesn't like it because it tastes too much like meat.
But a nice well-cooked real cheeseburger with fries is something I like to have once in a while.
I think TFA talks about vat-grown attempts toward the end. I'm not interested in that kind of 'better living through chemistry'.
posted by MtDewd at 5:56 AM on October 1, 2019

The other thing about the impossible sausages was that they flavored the sauce, just as meat sausages do. To me the biggest advantages of real meat are the fat, flavorings and collagen that deepen the flavor of a dish - so you can take a little piece of fatty meat and flavor a whole dish with it. And you can't do that with tofu or even the finest home-made veggie burger (the wizard burger at the Seward Cafe in south Minneapolis, if you're looking). Now, the impossible sausage added mostly herby and fatty notes like crumbled Italian sausage would rather than a distinct meaty background flavor, but it was still good! Very often, vegetarian sausages are just lumps in the sauce - even if they taste good on their own, they don't blend.
posted by Frowner at 6:00 AM on October 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

I lean vegetarian and eat vegan before six for ethical reasons, I live with adults on a low-carb path, I have North American enculturated children. We enjoy burgers and dogs and sausage at times. I make my own vegetarian patties from a can of navy beans (they have egg and sometimes cheese) but despite that we keep trying various meat substitutes because if there’s meat for the low-carb-ers my children will want it, especially from the grill in the summer. Also, their friends are not enamoured of our non-meat ways.

A few years ago my son said to me very gently “the hot dogs everywhere else taste, well, better.” This is because we only had tofu dogs. He was right. We agreed we’d keep it that way.

So basically, these suit some of our meals and I’m in favour of it replacing industrial meat swiftly so that I can both create loving vegan options, and sometimes pick up Jamaican “beef” patties and cauliflower shepherds pie.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:12 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

US meat processors are no longer monitored by government inspectors. Need a better reason to quit eating meat?
posted by nofundy at 6:32 AM on October 1, 2019 [9 favorites]

For a while there I was making homemade seitan on the regular and if you can handle gluten, it's an excellent fake meat. Tricky to figure out how to fine tune the texture but once you get it to your liking, so good - not even exaggerating, the best gyro I've had has been made with seitan. But it costs an arm and a leg to buy it premade, so it's worth doing yourself.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:32 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Whatever happened to cloned vat meat?

The writer of the main article mentions the chicken nugget they eat that's under development. It cost the producer $50 to make, but they are hoping to launch fairly soon.
posted by ambrosen at 6:37 AM on October 1, 2019

US meat processors are no longer monitored by government inspectors. Need a better reason to quit eating meat?

Regulations have for sure been made lax in shitty ways by the Trump admin, but they're absolutely still inspecting. USDA is still present at all times, still gets front row reserved parking at processing plants, still does surprise spot checks, still monitors the animals coming in and the parts of the animals during the process, and still shuts down lines or whole plants no questions asked at their discretion to address any issues they find. Republican deregulation is bad and making things worse and meat production is awful for a million reasons, I personally avoid meat 90% of the time these days, hope to reduce that further or eliminate it and hope that others do too, but it's just not true that they're no longer monitored. There have been worrying changes for sure, like fewer USDA staff on site at all times, and I'm certainly not on the side of the meat processors, but we should be accurate in our criticisms, the true stuff is damning enough.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:52 AM on October 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

I like both Impossible/Beyond Burgers and kale. Come at me, bros.

I also like Quorn and Morningstar Breakfast Strips.

I also like fresh wobbly tofu straight from the tofu-maker at the Chinese grocery.

I've been vegetarian for 30 years, there's room in my diet for all sorts of things. Everyone's tastebuds are different. I don't know why we have to constantly shit all over foodstuffs that other people happily eat.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:55 AM on October 1, 2019 [33 favorites]

Good to see you still posting kliuless 😀
posted by efalk at 6:58 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you live in small-town central Iowa, almost the only excellent vegetarian food available is the food that you cook for yourself. If you're a good cook, with the time to cook, and access to good produce -- and none of those are guarantees for me. (Two weeks ago I cried in Hy-Vee because they were out of ginger.)

If you are vegetarian, and you also need options for road trips and half-hour work lunch breaks and leaving a long work shift with a migraine and those times you don't want to be the squeaky wheel among your friends when you're all choosing a place to eat - thank goodness for any improvement on the cardboardy veggie patty at Subway!

One of my big pushes toward being vegetarian came when I was eating a Big Mac and thinking, "This isn't great food, this isn't food that I want to be eating, all it's doing is giving me adequate-tasting calories, how can this POSSIBLY worth the cost in terms of environmental damage and animal suffering?" And, well -- sometimes you just need the (fast, zero-effort) adequate-tasting calories.
posted by Jeanne at 7:28 AM on October 1, 2019 [16 favorites]

Yeah, keep drinking your haterade, Metafilter! I like Impossible burgers and think they taste appropriately meaty. They're a fine substitute for not only a BigMac but also a burger one or two rungs up (like what you might get at the ballpark), and I'll happily eat one in either scenario.

I'm an omnivore who's been trying to cut back on beef and dairy (and to a lesser extent other meats) for environmental reasons. I went vegan for the month of May with no intention of remaining so - just wanted to learn recipes and see how it went. Total respect for those who do it full time, but for the rest of us who just don't really want to, I'm really big on promoting the idea of being able to enjoy a burger or some oxtail stew when you want but otherwise just eating less meat and enjoying some fun vegan treats. I feel like in a small way, it's an approach that can kind of neutralize the culture wars over food, to go from vegan ice cream to fried chicken, and then maybe some tofu with pork sauce. So definitely feeling the people who are saying an Impossible burger is just one meal. (Though it does suck if you don't like them and they replace other vegetarian options.)
posted by sunset in snow country at 7:41 AM on October 1, 2019 [11 favorites]

Chaffinch: I love a good meat substitute now and then but I wish people would just learn to cook non-meats in an interesting way instead of trying to replace them.

Rufous-headed Towhee heehee: I'm actually really excited about these new options, I think that something that's close enough to meat to make meat eaters want to eat it instead of meat is a real win for the environment.

I agree with Rufous-headed Towhee heehee: while I like meat alternatives (fake bacon is a big favorite at our house, as is turkey bacon, both of which cost less than pig-based bacon), I realize that a lot of people have a very basic dis-interest in non-meat substitutes. The fact that Impossible Burgers are available so widely is pretty impressive, and the hype is probably helping to sell more plant-based patties. Hopefully it catches on.

And while I'm hoping, here's hoping that the external costs of beef, included desertification and dust storms, which can lead to fatal crashes. As in "your overgrazing of this land directly lead to a dust storm, which lead to a 25 car pile-up where 6 people died. Please pay [appropriate] fine and find other grazing lands."
posted by filthy light thief at 7:44 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, but that said, I do NOT like the Beyond Burger (which does not taste meaty to me - I think they must be banking on texture?) And sooo fatty, which actually would have been great during my vegan month when I was struggling to get fats into my diet, but as it is, bleah. I did try it as a substitute for taco meat and that was fine because there were other strong flavors. And if you like it, more power to you!
posted by sunset in snow country at 7:45 AM on October 1, 2019

I occasionally enjoy meat, mostly poultry or fish, but have definitely cut back over the last few years because of environmental, ethical and health concerns.

The main reason I don't eat beef, however, is basically PTSD. A few years ago I barely survived an episode of anaphylactic shock in the middle of the night. Doctors didn't know what had happened but thought maybe it was a spider bite. A couple of weeks later it happened again; this time I was prepared with knowledge of the onset symptoms and a newly prescribed epi-pen. Blood tests eventually revealed that I had contracted the alpha-gal allergy carried by the Lone-Star tick. Symptoms take hours to develop; for me a burger at dinner translated to my body shutting down in an allergic reaction at night. For whatever reason I've apparently fought it off and can eat pork (which I do infrequently) and probably beef, but I figure that almost dying because I ate a burger is probably a good sign that I don't really need them in my life (and obviously from the gap between the two episodes, eating pork/beef wasn't a big part of my diet prior to that anyway).

Friends have joked that this tick-borne illness is part of a vast environmentalist conspiracy. Speculation along those lines rubs the wrong way though, as I've noticed a troubling rise of anti-vegan/vegetarian attitudes in online spaces (presumably funded/fueled by industry groups), which have a lot of crossover with other fascist networks, using similar dehumanizing and nationalistic rhetoric. Eating meat is implicitly (and often explicitly) a violent act, and I've wondered how that propensity to defend violence has been harnessed by groups with broader motives than just selling steaks.

That said I both appreciate and am troubled by these fake meat products because they seem to be helping create a safe space for vegetarians within capitalism, with all the issues that capitalism brings to the table but presumably way less animal death and environmental destruction.
posted by soy bean at 7:45 AM on October 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

Vegetarian meals are way more fun for me as someone who loves to cook. Bringing out the best in a cut of meat just feels boring at this point, but there's a whole endless world of various vegetables and fruits to master and it's really engaging and satisfying.

Also I love trying weird vegetarian experiments - I can see how the carrot hot dog thing could work really well, the marinade really smells and tastes like hot dogs and the texture of a cooked carrot is not dissimilar to cheapo hot dogs, but I just can't get there yet in the technique, so it's a fun thing to try out and it will be really satisfying to eventually nail. And I definitely want to try carrot lox and watermelon poke because intuitively I can see how those would work great, so I'm excited to figure it out.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:00 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

but when are we getting Impossible Placenta
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:16 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I tried a Beyond Sausage on a whim, and while it had a decent meaty texture, there was something about the flavor I didn't like. A couple of hours later I realized it was meant to be simulated pork sausage, which is something I don't like very much because there's something about the flavor I don't like, and I realized the Beyond people had recreated my distaste for pork sausage perfectly.
posted by davejay at 8:18 AM on October 1, 2019 [9 favorites]

They must have some incredible marketing department.

Indeed. Ignoring the animal testing, I've read an article stating the non-FDA-approved GMO ingredient heme is strongly linked to carcinogens in the gut, and yet search results are full of articles using variations of "the impossible burger is not healthy, but that's not the point." A very interesting spin.
posted by davejay at 8:32 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Vegetarian meals are way more fun for me as someone who loves to cook.
I feel this so hard. It's just way more interesting.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:34 AM on October 1, 2019

but when are we getting Impossible Placenta

I think they're touring Europe at the moment.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:46 AM on October 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm an omnivore who was vegetarian for eight years, I mostly hated fake meat products then. But our neighbors invited us over on the fourth of July for a barbecue, and they planned to make Beyond burgers. "Uh, is it okay if we bring steak?" I asked. "Oh, we're not vegetarian," they said. "we just like the Beyond burgers!" So we had them, and they were good. Not exactly a burger, but far more edible than the pack of a dozen burger patties you get at Costco.

This past Saturday we had friends over for spaghetti and meatballs, and for my vegetarian friend we made meatballs from Beyond Burger patties (they didn't have the "ground meat" style at our Safeway) using the same recipe we used for the beef meatballs. They were very good, and I have to say that being able to sub 1:1 for meat in a recipe and cook them the same way (fried in a skillet) is one of the best things about them. If I had served them alone I doubt anyone would have known the difference.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:34 AM on October 1, 2019

Heme is FDA-approved.
posted by wanderingmind at 9:43 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

WRT to the healthiness issue...

I've encountered in my many decades as a vegetarian this weird assumption by a lot of eating establishments that because I don't eat meat, I must also want literally all of my food to be fat, sugar, salt and gluten free. Salads with lemon juice on them, basically. I LOVE JUNK FOOD. My brain has the same pleasure receptors for fat and salt and sugar as everyone else's. A fatty, salty slab of protein in between some extremely simple carbs paired with some deep fried and salted tubers is something that I too would like to eat occasionally, even if I don't eat meat. It's fucking delicious and terrible for me but Donald Trump is President please just let me have this one thing.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:11 AM on October 1, 2019 [10 favorites]

I'm excited for when the pricing of real meat and fake meat means fake meat dollar menus, that will really make a dent in emissions and I think people will mostly be okay trading one gray meat patty for another gray "meat" patty if it saves them money.

Taco Bell is still king of the fast food vegetarian option though, and that's just simply subbing in beans or potatoes.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:17 AM on October 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

I poked around on the heme issue and while the FDA says that the vegetable heme used in the Impossible Burger is fine, the World Health Organization says that heme in general (not just the Impossible Burger kind) is one of the things that makes all red meat carcinogenic, but there's a new article in Annals of Internal Medicine which suggests that meat is actually not that big a health risk, but that study relies very heavily on a reliable, large, long-term study in which one group ate only moderately less meat than the other, which apparently changed nothing - so while that study has a lot of usefulness in other respects, it doesn't really show whether eating red meat itself is bad.

So my take-away is that if you're looking to get rid of every eliminate-able risk in your diet, then you want to avoid heme because it's unclear just whether it's risky and how risky it is. But if you're someone who is, like, cool with the occasional risk because it's tasty or life is difficult/short, then it's silly to flip out about the consumption of vegetable heme, especially in a "burgers are a sometimes food" way. If you're subbing Impossible products for real meat, the heme seems irrelevant and you might as well given the environmental benefits and moderate (basically, saturated fat yes, cholesterol no) health benefits.

If you eat any other vegan junk food - all those fake cheeses which are just empty calories, for instance - it's silly to kick at the Impossible Burger.

I don't think that Impossible Burgers are sinister, is what I'm saying.
posted by Frowner at 10:23 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

I should give the Beyond ground another try, but there are other soy-based options at my local chain grocery store that make excellent meatballs or ground for chili.
As far as tofu dogs go, I was at a neighborhood cookout once, and one fell off the grill. The dog that was right by where it landed was notorious for eating anything, but she passed on it. If it's too disgusting for a dog....
posted by MtDewd at 10:25 AM on October 1, 2019

If it's too disgusting for a dog....
Everyone knows tofu hotdogs are made from the worst parts of the tofu.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:33 AM on October 1, 2019 [11 favorites]

I'm basically an obligate carnivore. I don't like vegetables, much less vegetables pretending to be meat. But if I go to a place that has a Beyond Burger, 50/50 I get that instead of a beef burger. If they have the Impossible Burger, 100% chance I get that instead.

I get that the ecological claims are overblown by marketing, but if it's even 25% true, I would be perfectly happy to switch over to Impossible Burgers forever. I keep meaning to try some of the other Beyond Products. I bet I can find other faux meats I like as much as the real thing now. I feel like that's real progress, even if it's not quite as much as some people would have liked.
posted by Zudz at 10:43 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

“I don’t know why they call it Hamburger Helper — it does just fine on its own!” - Cousin Eddie, National Lampoon’s Vacation
posted by Big Al 8000 at 12:24 PM on October 1, 2019

i hate black bean burgers at places bc they are always spicy. i hate "ancient grain" burgers because they are dry as fuck. i'm not impressed with most morningstar, boca, etc. they all just are dry and weirdly flavored.

i am a vegetarian, and going out with meat eater friends usually means i can have french fries, potato skins, mozzarella sticks, or sad salads.

beyond and impossible give me a chance to have something i actually LIKE and that tastes good. i'm not looking for something nutritionally superior to a meatburger, i'm looking for something that isn't meat.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:09 PM on October 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

Low-cost drop-in replacements for meat would be amazing for a lot of people. My mom is always annoyed that she "can't make anything" for me. A realistic ground beef means that she can make keema, koftas and kababs. And really as long as the texture is good the taste of the "beef" doesn't matter because of the amount of other seasonings that will be going into it. Yes my palate has expanded over time and will continue to expand but being able to make and eat the food you always have is no small thing.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:46 PM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm very hesitant to believe that increasing the industrialisation of food production is going to be good for the planet, food accessability, or sustainability longterm. Industrialising our food production got us into a mess in the first place. Doubling down on that isn't going to help. And patented, publicly-traded foods exist in the best interests of shareholders, no one else.
posted by windykites at 4:47 PM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I spend a lot of time as a vegetarian, and am fully on-board with faux meat for the simple reason that you can cook or use them as quickly as you can meat. That is a significant reason why people are so loathe to give up meat, it can take much longer to get a vegetarian meal on the table, and forget about vegan. I am generalizing, of course, but it is an actual thing to consider.
posted by nanook at 5:44 PM on October 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

My local hipstery burger place has the option of picking a portobello mushroom for the patty (basically you get a giant mushroom the size of a quarter pounder patty on a bun with the cheese and whatever other ridiculousness the burger you ordered has) and it's the best burger I've ever had. It's super salty and delicious and way better than any beef or vegetarian patty I've tried.
posted by solipsism at 7:53 PM on October 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

Shake Shack has a good mushroom burger. Theirs is breaded and fried and stuffed with a cheesy filling (so, decidedly not vegan).
posted by mbrubeck at 7:57 PM on October 1, 2019

I tried the Impossible 1.0 and my reaction was "If every McDonald's patty in the world were replaced by this it'd be a notable upgrade." Haven't had the chance to try the 2.0 but I'm excited to, and I hope that it takes off well enough that fake meat outcompetes real meat on price. I'm far from a vegetarian, but all else being equal (flavor, convenience, etc.) I'd prefer to be eating plants than eating animals.
posted by NMcCoy at 10:21 PM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

For folks bringing up non-meat sausage, the Gimme Lean brand is absolutely delicious; I use it to make half of each year's Burns Night scotch eggs vegetarian, and consistently, meat-eating friends love those more than flesh-based sausage!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:02 AM on October 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

As always with the owner of a for-profit company under capitalism, there's the tacit clause of "Fixing x problem is to be achieved by my company becoming a monopoly!". The scenario of total meat replacement that he describes implicitly states that his company will come to dominate the global food market. In what world is a global monopoly, controlling all of a certain class of food, an ideal one?
posted by constantinescharity at 7:31 AM on October 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

My local hipstery burger place has the option of picking a portobello mushroom for the patty (basically you get a giant mushroom the size of a quarter pounder patty on a bun with the cheese and whatever other ridiculousness the burger you ordered has) and it's the best burger I've ever had. It's super salty and delicious and way better than any beef or vegetarian patty I've tried.

Obligate carnivore again.

This is one of the specific examples of meat substitutes that I always cite as a thing that I hate when the subject of meat substitutes comes up. I tolerate mushrooms in most dishes, but I'm 0% interested in biting in to one on a bun. I get that portobello burgers are a thing, and that's fine, but I'm baffled that they would be considered a meat substitute.
posted by Zudz at 7:45 AM on October 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I get that portobello burgers are a thing, and that's fine, but I'm baffled that they would be considered a meat substitute.

Vegetarian and same. A lack of protein sources on offer when I go out to eat is very common. This particular portobello burger described seems to have cheese so okay, but a lot of the time they don't. Whenever I get the vegetarian option for boxed lunches ordered by our institutional catering where I work, it's roasted veggies in a wrap. No cheese, no beans, no protein whatsoever. I'm hungry an hour later.

The scenario of total meat replacement that he describes

There are already several competing high tech meat replacement companies, with more rumoured to come online soon. I mean, he obviously thinks his is the best, but it's far from a monopoly currently. And I don't know why Quorn keeps getting left out of these articles--I guess because it's not new? But it's a high tech frankenfood meat replacement of dubious healthiness that is delicious (and very good at the chickeny consistency) and pretty widely available. (Also not vegan, so there is that.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:51 AM on October 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

Whenever I get the vegetarian option for boxed lunches ordered by our institutional catering where I work, it's roasted veggies in a wrap. No cheese, no beans, no protein whatsoever. I'm hungry an hour later.

My entire goddamn kingdom for a vegetarian option separate from the vegan, gluten-free, halal, and other special orders. I know why catering does it that way but it's super frustrating--because the cheapest possible way of preparing veggies does nothing to provide anyone with satiety, let alone taste. I still have some feelings about the flavorless white rice and limp book choi that Air China served me on a 16-hour flight.

All of that to say, I'd be really excited to see the wide spread use of meat substitutes in settings where people lack choice (catered events, airplanes and airports, actual prisons, etc). It doesn't have to be courtesy of one particular company and I doubt it will be. Patents do expire. We just need to stop melting the planet so we can actually make it to our glorious meat less future.
posted by librarylis at 12:35 PM on October 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Nature - Even meat lovers go veggie when plant-heavy meals abound

"Emma Garnett and her colleagues at the University of Cambridge, UK, collected data on more than 94,000 meals sold in 3 of the cafeterias at the university in 2017. When the proportion of meatless options doubled from one to two of four choices, overall sales remained about constant. But sales of meat-containing meals dropped, and sales of vegetarian meals, such as “wild mushroom, roasted butternut squash and sun blushed tomato risotto with parmesan”, rose 40–80%.

Increases in plant-based dining were largest among people with the lowest baseline rates of vegetarian-meal consumption. The researchers found no evidence that higher sales of vegetarian dishes at lunch led to lower vegetarian sales at dinner."
posted by jason_steakums at 1:11 PM on October 2, 2019 [5 favorites]

The cafeteria at my workplace did this some years ago, and it's impressive how much it changes people's habits.
posted by mumimor at 1:58 AM on October 3, 2019

Kelsey Piper (Vox) covers the backlash against the new vegetarian burgers.
But for plant-based food to change the world requires producing huge quantities of it and selling it where consumers will want to buy it. And that, in turn, requires confronting the reality that consumers like fast food and that there’s real value in providing them with fast food that’s better for the world. The backlash to plant-based meat, when you look at it closely, is a backlash against our food system in general
posted by mbrubeck at 11:43 AM on October 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

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