Vegan food has come a long way since tofu. Pea protein and mycoprotein from mushrooms have changed the meatless foods industry, much to my thankful taste buds’ delight, but imitation meats maker Impossible Foods has taken things way, way further. (This is not to be confused with a similar burger created by Beyond Meat.)
The company has a new vegan burger on the market that actually bleeds. That might sound strange, but to entice people who are skeptical of meatless products, making them as close to the real thing as possible is important.
When I first heard of its bleeding burger, I thought it must be beet juice or something. But it turns out it’s a way more impressive feat than that — it is the first plant-based company to use what are called heme molecules.
Heme is the molecule that carries oxygen through both animals and people, making blood red and meat pink. Impossible Foods has injected plant-based heme molecules taken from vegetables into yeast, which rapidly produces the stuff. This means it will be feasible to produce the burgers on a large scale, getting more meatless meat into our mouths.
The heme is then added to the rest of the burger mixture, which is made from potato and wheat proteins, coconut oil and other ingredients. The result is a burger that cooks, browns and tastes just like beef, including the signature meaty juices, all thanks to heme. For some longtime vegans and vegetarians, it might be unsettling to eat something that tastes so much like real meat. But for skeptical omnivores and those new to a plant-based lifestyle, meat that bleeds is a huge deal.
It’s a sign of how far meatless foods have come, and I’m excited. I’ve had one too many black bean burgers fall apart on my grill, so I look forward to the day when I can finally try a burger that can stand up to the heat — from my grill and carnivores alike.
I know what you’re wondering at this point: “Where do I get my impossible burger?” Patience, Grasshopper! The company is rolling out its burger in select locations starting this summer. We’ve reached out to the company to get more specific information and will update this article as soon as we hear back.