Anuga 2017

The veggie burger that bleeds like real meat

A Stanford, California, biochemistry professor has invented a meat-free burger that looks and bleeds juice just like the beef you cook on a grill. Venture capitalists and Bill Gates think he’s onto something and have put up millions in backing dollars.

Veggie burgers come in various kinds, and can be pretty tasty — but they’re no real substitute for their meat counterparts, if that’s the burger experience you’re looking for.

Meet the ‘Impossible Cheeseburger’. Its creator, Stanford biochemistry professor Patrick Brown, developed the burger out of nothing but plant ingredients, and it looks just like the real thing.

Apparently, it also tastes like real meat — and has a similar texture, according to the Wall Street Journal, which described it as a flavour cross between beef and turkey, leaving a blood-like moisture on the plate. It is also “slightly lighter, perhaps even fluffier, than a typical burger and it tastes less bloody. But the bites still have the consistency of animal tissue. It isn’t overly spongy like tofu. Instead, the meat granules cling together, as one would expect in a burger.”

This is achieved using a chemical compound known as heme — a protein that can both be found in haemoglobin, the red pigment in blood, and the roots of nitrogen-fixing plants. These plants — which include legumes — are unable to extract nitrogen from the air on their own, so they enlist the aid of symbiotic bacteria called rhizobia, which live in their root nodules. These bacteria help the plants extract and store nitrogen.

Heme also contains iron which, when exposed to oxygen, turns red — just like blood — and also creates those meat flavours.

“[Heme] is basically 99 percent of the secret to meat flavour. Heme is the molecule that makes meat taste like meat. It’s the reason meat tastes like nothing else. It’s the reason why red meat, which has more heme, tastes meatier to people than white meat,” Brown said.

Brown has created his own company, Impossible Foods, and hopes to inspire real change in the way we eat by offering a more sustainable alternative to meat, which consumes massive land and water resources and contributes significantly to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“[Meat farming] has terribly destructive environmental consequences and many scientists and doctors believe it’s intrinsically unhealthy to eat meat,” he said. “We have to effectively reinvent a whole system for producing food — the end result being an unbelievably delicious product that can compete successfully against a product that people have loved for thousands of years.”

Impossible Foods is not the only company seeking a solution. Last year, Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands unveiled meat grown in a lab from cow cells. Unlike Post’s burger, though, which cost €250,000 to make, one of Brown’s burgers costs a mere $20 to make.

Impossible Foods has secured $75-million in venture capital — including funding from Google Ventures and Bill Gates — so it may be possible that we see his veggie burgers on supermarket shelves in the not-too-distant future, as well as other vegetable-based meat substitutes.

Related articles:

Laboratory-grown beef: meat without the murder, but would you eat it?

Growing meat in labs could cut hunger, tackle climate change and end animal slaughter, but high-profile creator, Professor Mark Post, says the biggest beef will be convincing consumers. Here’s an interview …

Sergey Brin isn’t the only tech entrepreneur investing in artificial meat

… thanks to Brin’s investment in the work of Mark Post of Maastricht University, it’s no longer science fiction even if it’s still decades from being on the consumer market. To grow …

Eating the world’s first cultured burger

…  meat, was cooked and eaten. [Click to enlarge] The experiment was the brainchild of Mark Post, a medical physiologist at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He believes it could herald a food …

Building a $325 000 burger

As a gastronomic delicacy, the 140g hamburger that Mark Post (left) has painstakingly created here surely will not turn any heads. But Dr Post is hoping that it will change some minds. The hamburger …

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Weekly Newsletter

We hunt down the latest SA and global food-drinks news and trends so you don't have to!
Subscribe now - click here to receive our weekly newsletter!

It's free, fresh and full of additives!

On Facebook