Quantcast

Burger King to Trial Meat-Free Impossible Whopper

Food
A meatless Impossible Whopper, which Burger King is testing at 59 locations around St. Louis. Michael Thomas / Getty Images

Burger King is helping to bring meatless meat into the mainstream.


On Monday, the fast-food chain announced that it would begin testing the Impossible Whopper in 59 locations in St. Louis. The move is a partnership with Impossible Foods, a California-based company that uses a genetically-modified yeast to make its plant-based burgers taste and bleed like meat.

"We wanted to make sure we had something that lived up to the expectations of the Whopper," Burger King's North America President Christopher Finazzo told Reuters. "We've done sort of a blind taste test with our franchisees, with people in the office, with my partners on the executive team, and virtually nobody can tell the difference."

In an April Fools' themed video, the fast-food chain shows customers eating the burgers and being surprised to discover that they are not made of meat.

The Impossible Taste Test | Impossible Whopper

Former Stanford University Prof. Pat Brown started Impossible Foods in 2011. A vegan, Brown told The New York Times that he wanted to decrease the demand for meat for ethical and environmental reasons, but he thought that in order to do so, he had to create a product that meat-lovers would still enjoy.

"Our whole focus is on making products that deliver everything that meat lovers care about," he told The New York Times.

His company's secret ingredient is a protein called heme that it believes is responsible for that unique meat flavor. Impossible grows it from soybean roots and mass-produces it with yeast, then mixes it with vegetable products.

Impossible meats are now sold at 6,000 U.S. restaurants, including White Castle and Fatburger. But if the Burger King test is successful, Brown told Reuters that number would more than double.

"Burger King represents a different scale," Impossible Foods COO and CFO David Lee told CNN.

The Impossible Whopper now costs $1 more than a beef one, but Lee suggested that could change.

"The only thing we need to be affordable and at scale versus the incumbent commodity business is time and size," he said.

While it is pricier, the Impossible Whopper is healthier than the meat original: it has slightly fewer calories, less cholesterol and no trans fats. It is also better for the environment. When compared on a per kilogram basis with meat burgers, Impossible Burgers require 87 percent less water and 96 percent less land while emitting 89 percent fewer greenhouse gasses and 92 percent less aquatic pollutants, according to a company-funded analysis.

However, the company has been criticized by some environmental groups for not conducting enough testing before marketing its products and by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for testing on rats, according to The New York Times.

Impossible isn't the only company hoping to popularize meatless meat. Beyond Meat announced in January that its meatless burgers would be available at Carl's Jr.

Burger King's Chief Marketing Officer Fernando Machado told The New York Times that he expected the Impossible Whopper to do well.

"I have high expectations that it's going to be big business, not just a niche product," he said.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Yulia Lisitsa / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Brianna Elliott, RD

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body.

It is the major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles.

Read More
Greenpeace activists unfurl banners after building a wood and card 'oil pipeline' outside the Canadian High Commission, Canada House, to protest against the Trudeau government's plans to build an oil pipeline in British Colombia on April 18, 2018 in London. Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

In an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, 42 Nobel laureates implored the federal government to "act with the moral clarity required" to tackle the global climate crisis and stop Teck Resources' proposed Frontier tar sands mine.

Read More
Sponsored
Mapping Urban Heat through Portland State University / video

Concrete and asphalt absorb the sun's energy. So when a heat wave strikes, city neighborhoods with few trees and lots of black pavement can get hotter than other areas — a lot hotter.

Read More
Pexels

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning your body can't produce it. Yet, it has many roles and has been linked to impressive health benefits.

Read More
The Rio San Antonio, in the headwaters basin of the Rio Grande in New Mexico, will lose federal protections under a new rule. Bob Wick / BLM California

By Tara Lohan

The Santa Fe River starts high in the forests of New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo mountains and flows 46 miles to the Rio Grande. Along the way it plays important roles for wildlife, irrigation, recreation and other cultural uses, and provides 40 percent of the water supply for the city of Santa Fe's 85,000 residents.

Read More