What Makes the Impossible Whopper, Possible?

A recent survey showed that over nine million Americans followed either a vegetarian or vegan diet, and over the past few years, many restaurants and fast-food chains have been expanding their menus to include more vegetarian and vegan options and attract a greater audience.

Grocery stores and food companies often change their recipes or stock better, healthier foods to keep up with the popularity of organic foods and brands. Burger King’s Impossible Whopper is an example of this. The chain created a burger that they claim is entirely plant-based, but tastes just like beef. But if this burger, and other meatless, vegetarian alternatives, isn’t made of beef, then what exactly is it made of?

The Impossible Whopper

Chick-fil-A has stated that they aim to have more meatless options, and McDonald’s has announced that they are experimenting with vegan chicken substitutes, but Burger King has already produced an alternative. The five main ingredients in the Impossible Whopper are water, soy protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and natural flavors. Also included are potato protein, salt, yeast, various vitamins, and emulsifiers, other than eggs, which wouldn’t allow for the burger to be vegan. But how does the burger taste and look like meat? The companies that came up with the food, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, studied and analyzed meat, and also used genetic engineering. Soy leghemoglobin, or heme, is the ingredient in the burger that makes it taste like meat. White Castle and Carl’s Jr. also have meatless versions of burgers, and they are also experimenting with trying to create a more beef-like taste and texture.

Other Meat and Junk Food Alternatives

Vegetarian alternatives to meat options are often served at restaurants and are also commonly sold at grocery stores. Tofu, made from soybeans and rich in protein and calcium, is one of the most common alternatives to meat, and diverse enough that it can be substituted in for chicken, pork, beef, and even seafood, and taste like many different things due to spices and marinades. Tempeh is another food that is similar to tofu but has a grainier texture and is firmer. Vegetables like mushrooms, cauliflower, beans, legumes, lentils, and eggplant can all serve as replacements for meat and even other products. Popular junk food like Cheetos and Doritos have been revamped to include healthier ingredients. A new company called Peatos is like Cheetohs and flavored that way, but their base is made of peas and lentils instead of corn and wheat. And of course, companies that produce ice cream, popcorn, gummy bears, chips, and other foods that historically have not been considered good for you often have calories or sugar cut so they still taste good, but are healthier.

Changes to one’s diet, such as becoming vegan, vegetarian, going gluten-or sugar-free, or following some other kind of dieting trend, has become more popular in recent years, which is why creating alternatives to meat, like Burger King has done with the Impossible Whopper, is so important to businesses, and it can be done by using vegetables, soy, tofu, and other plant-based proteins. Actions like those of Burger King, White Castle, and Carl’s Jr. appeal to a wider range of businesses.

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