Impossible Foods swears by its mission to completely eradicate animals in the global food technology by the year 2035. The mission’s first project? Burgers! Impossible Foods plant-based burger is going mainstream and from the get-go, burger lovers are embracing it. White Castle and QDOBA, for instance, have been serving Impossible Burgers. Most recently, Impossible Foods tapped food processing company, OSI Group, to catch up with the growing demand. And beginning August, Burger King will update its menu to include Impossible Whopper in all branches nationwide. By the last quarter of this year, Impossible Foods products will hit the shelves of grocery stores. With these developments, are we seeing a shift in food consumption among consumers? Also, is plant-based meat really going mainstream?
Fake or Real? Impossible Foods Says It Is All In the Mind
The appreciation of flavors is a combination of impulse from various senses. Flavors are molecules interacting with sensors in the tongue. The brain needs other senses such as the nose and eyes to profile the flavors. It also helps to identify what you are eating. By tapping on the neuroscience involved in the identification of flavors, Impossible Foods is recreating the sensory experience involved in eating a burger.
Lipids, amino acids, minerals, and water make up meat – components that are also present in plants. While these components can be extracted from plants, the challenge lies in finding the combination that replicates the flavor of the meat. With the replacement for meat, the sensory gateways of taste, smell, touch, and sight send a signal to the brain saying that the Impossible burger experience is the same as the real meat.
In Detail: What Makes Meat, Meat?
Impossible Foods looks into the anatomy of flavor and tries to understand the science behind what makes meat, meat. Raw meat is bright red and has a metallic aroma to it. When cooked, the meat gets crusty and turns brown. Through groundbreaking research, Impossible Foods identified and isolated a component responsible for this quality of meat. The name of the molecule is heme. This molecule binds with iron in the meat and creates an array of flavor that is unique to meat. Heme is abundant in animals, but it is also present in plants, specifically from the roots of soybean. Intending to scale the production of plant-based replacement for meat, Impossible Foods has developed a way to produce heme in large quantities.
Additionally, Impossible Foods honed in on various ingredients such as wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil, yam, and xanthan gum to recreate the texture and crunch of meat. The result is a plant-based burger with an uncanny resemblance to the real meat; your brain will not be able to tell the difference.
On Developing Sustainable and Scalable Food Technology
Impossible Foods stands as a promising alternative source of protein. The company has developed the technology to produce plant-based meat. It has not given up the flavor and sensory experience attached to the consumption of meat. As a tech company, Impossible Foods takes an innovative and iterative approach. The quest to create a replacement for meat is both sustainable and scalable. With the future of our planet at stake, using technology to improve food production while reducing the impact on the environment is the most ethical and right choice.
Regrettably, with the increasing food demand from a rapidly growing population, the animal food industry is one of the leading causes of a myriad of environmental issues. From water shortage to waterways seepage to land pollution to shrinking forests – the damage of the animal food industry is widespread and irreversible. Moving to a plant-based diet, therefore, is humanity’s best stake to slow down, if not avert these problems.
A growing number of food technology companies such as Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Just, and All Thing Bugs are joining the quest to create more meat and protein alternatives. With more options that are just as tasty and affordable as the farm-raised meat, switching to a plant-based diet should therefore not be a challenge anymore.