Surprisingly, Impossible Burger is not vegan. Plant-based meat aimed to eliminate humankind’s dependency on animal meat is something that the vegan society would expect from the Impossible Burger. While there are absolutely no animal derivatives used to create an Impossible Burger, the company behind this supposed food breakthrough doesn’t seem to prioritize the welfare of animals in general.
The public has become more aware of the existence of plant-based meat. Over the last few years, food corporations introduced their own line of vegan meat that tastes almost like the real thing, but not one of its ingredients came from an animal source. Out of all the faux meat brands in the market today, the one that caught everyone’s attention is Impossible Burger vegan meat.
The testimonies of those who tried an Impossible Burger are all the same– it tastes almost like eating a ground beef patty. One cannot even tell if they are eating actual cow meat or an Impossible Burger patty.
Vegans that have just heard about the Impossible Burger will surely feel excited to try it. However, if you are one of those vegans who want to jump on the Impossible Burger bandwagon, you should lower your expectations as early as now. We have information that will show how the Impossible Burger is not as animal cruelty-free as you first thought.
Table of Contents
What Is Impossible Burger Vegan Meat?
The company behind Impossible Burger’s meat realness is Impossible Foods, founded nine years ago by Pat Brown. Using his expertise as a former biochemist professor from Stanford University, Brown has concocted the perfect recipe that mimics the taste and texture of real meat by using only plant-based ingredients.
His company’s many years of hard work and perseverance led to the birth of Impossible Burger in 2016. At the time, many food companies had already claimed that their plant-based meat products were the perfect substitute for animal meat.
Yet, the public opinion on vegan meat was not particularly positive. Many people think that plant-based meat tastes and looks so different from the kind of meat that they enjoy eating.
Enter the Impossible Burger, the first plant-based meat product that captures real meat’s look, smell, and flavor. Like animal meat, the Impossible Burger patty “bleeds.” Truly, it is one of Impossible Burger’s features that amazed even those who hated plant-based meat. Little did they know that the patty was only bleeding blood-red beet juice.
All these meat fake-out tricks of the Impossible Burger tell us that the product’s main target is animal meat lovers. It would be easy to get the attention of vegans because Impossible Burger is plant-based, but attracting non-vegan consumers would be much more challenging.
What Are The Ingredients Of Impossible Burger?
Given below is the list of ingredients of an Impossible Burger patty. The majority of the ingredients included in this list are certified plant-based, while some of them are naturally-occurring compounds that can be found in the environment. A few of these ingredients are synthetic or made inside the laboratory without animal-sourced agents.
- Soy Protein Concentrate
- Coconut Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Natural Flavors
- Potato Protein
- Yeast Extract
- Cultured Dextrose
- Modified Food Starch
- Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant)
- Soy Protein Isolate
- Zinc Gluconate
- Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1)
- Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6)
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- Vitamin B12
- Soy Leghemoglobin
You can do your own research and look for each of these ingredients online to verify if they are not animal derivatives or by-products. Nonetheless, even the vegan groups are confident that every ingredient used to make an Impossible Burger is vegan.
You might encounter some information stating that riboflavin can also be found in animal sources. Hence, there might be uncertainty if the riboflavin included in Impossible Burger is vegan. However, it should be noted that vitamin B2 can also be synthesized in a laboratory, just like the other ingredients in the product.
Special attention must be given to soy leghemoglobin, which was listed last. It is considered the heart of Impossible Foods’ effort to make their plant-based meat taste and look like real meat.
Heme is a compound that gives the meat a distinct protein-filled flavor, thanks to its high iron level. Heme is commonly found in human and animal blood, although heme is also present in plants, albeit in very small amounts.
Among all plant sources that contain heme, soybean is known to have the most concentration of this molecule. Still, it is insufficient to supply huge amounts of heme for mass production. The best option for Impossible Food is to create their own home based on the one found in soybeans through genetic engineering.
That is how soy leghemoglobin was made. By filling in the gaps of a genetically-engineered yeast with soy plant DNA, the company created the secret ingredient that would put the Impossible Burger and all its other plant-based meat products on the map.
What Makes Impossible Burger Anti-Vegan?
Soy leghemoglobin does sound like good news because it is as vegan as a meat-flavored plant-based ingredient can get. Unfortunately, this same ingredient will strip Impossible Burger of its vegan status.
It appears that Impossible Foods performed tests on rats to make sure that the Impossible Burger is safe for human consumption. This is all because of soy leghemoglobin, which is considered a new ingredient. Therefore, there was uncertainty about how the human body would react to this new compound.
Impossible Burger had to undergo the GRAS or “generally regarded as safe” approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before it could be distributed all over the country. To get the approval, tests must be performed on a specified number of living test subjects chosen to be rats.
To note, Impossible Foods had never been required to get FDA approval for years to sell their products. However, the company had undergone a fast expansion as their products reached giant restaurants and grocery stores. Some establishments that feature the Impossible Burger include Fairway and Wegman’s supermarket and Burger King with its very popular Impossible Whopper.
Back then, Impossible Food had no choice but to comply with the FDA’s requirements to get the GRAS label for Impossible Burger. A total of 188 rats were used in three separate safety tests to confirm whether the soy leghemoglobin present in Impossible Burger poses any risk to human health.
You might wonder what happened to the rats used in the experiment. As part of the standard animal testing procedure set by the FDA, all 188 rats were killed. In 2018, FDA gave their approval on the new heme ingredient in Impossible Burger. Sadly, that approval came at the cost of the lives of innocent animals.
Brown is a vegan himself, so the animal test requirement for their synthesized soy heme should have felt disheartening. Impossible Foods claimed that the animal testing was done only once to get FDA approval, and the test procedures only involved the least number of animal test subjects as possible.
Still, many vegans lost interest in Impossible Burger upon hearing the news. The fact that animals were exploited and harmed just to allow the distribution of the product is enough to not consider Impossible Burger as a legitimate vegan alternative. Neither PETA nor The Vegan Society recognizes Impossible Burger as a vegan.
Does Impossible Foods Consider Their Own Product As Vegan?
Impossible Foods released a blog update earlier this year to address the issue of whether their products are certified vegan or not. The company has stated that its primary objective is to save the planet from the detrimental effects of the animal agriculture industry. To do so, they created delicious food alternatives not derived from animals.
According to Impossible Foods, making their products irresistible for meat lovers is important to shake up the global food market. The more people convince to switch to plant-based food products, the more they accomplish their main objective.
It appears that their focus in making Impossible Burger and other plant-based meat products is the ecological destruction brought upon by animal agriculture. Raising more animals in farms generates more greenhouse gases, and it also takes up a lot of our water and land resources as opposed to farming plants.
It was also explicitly stated that Impossible Foods had the meat-eaters in mind more than vegan consumers when they developed their products. The company wanted to attract meat lovers by emulating the experience of eating animal meat. However, this is not the goal at of the vegan movement. The primary concern of veganism is animal cruelty.
This statement from Impossible Foods is an admission that their Impossible Burger is not vegan or, at the very least, not made for vegans.
Plant-Based Burger Products That Are Certified Vegan
It does seem like a huge waste that despite all the efforts to create the Impossible Burger with virtually no animal-sourced ingredients, it still ended up as a non-vegan product. Although, this is not a huge loss for the vegan community because there are several other vegan burgers.
PETA made a list of all the mouthwatering vegan burgers that match the Impossible Burger. Aside from the incredible taste, you will feel no guilt eating them because they are cruelty-free.
- The Beyond Burger
- Trader Joe’s Protein Patties
- Tofurky Plant-Based Burgers
- Simple Truth Emerge Plant-Based Patties
- UNCUT Plant-Based Burgers
- The Meatless Farm Co. Meat-Free Burgers
- Morning Star Farms Veggie Burgers
- Field Roast Hand-Formed Field Burgers
- Amy’s Sonoma Veggie Burgers
- Dr. Praeger’s Veggie Burgers
- Neat Meat Veggie Burgers
The Impossible Burger is a popular veggie brand that is too good to be true. It does offer the same taste as animal meat by using purely plant-based ingredients. However, the effort to replicate the meaty taste and texture is the same reason why the Impossible Burger turned out to be not vegan-friendly.
The objective of Impossible Burger defeats the purpose of being a vegan. Many people choose to be vegans because they believe humans can rely solely on plant sources to survive. Helping people maintain their cravings for animal meat by creating meat-flavored vegan food won’t help in converting more people to veganism.
Finding vegan alternatives for a certain food does not necessarily mean that it should taste just the same. Impossible Foods has aimed to make their products the perfect plant-based alternatives for popular meat products, but that only led them to harm innocent living creatures.