Trying to pass off a veggie burger as an all-beef patty won’t fool anyone. Just try it at your next cookout and see how many friends you lose.
But that could soon change. A professor at Stanford University has developed the Impossible Cheeseburger, a veggie burger that cooks, tastes, and feels almost exactly like a real, juicy, distinctly meaty ground beef patty.
The secret ingredient? Blood.
It sounds like cheating, but it's not: The "blood" that makes the Impossible Cheeseburger so tasty isn't animal blood. Professor Pat Brown and his company Impossible Foods extract specific proteins and nutrients from plants to create the ultimate meat analogue—something with the same texture, flavor, and appearance as meat, but made entirely from plants.
One of those plant components happens to be the heme molecule, commonly found in hemoglobin. If you think way back to high school biology class, you may remember it as the stuff that makes blood red. As it turns out, the same protein can be found in some plants, which is how Impossible Foods sources its sweet, juicy blood.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the burger tastes like a cross between turkey and beef, with the plant blood helping to create the authentic flavor of cow’s blood. As for texture, the WSJ claims that, "the bites still have the consistency of animal tissue... the meat granules cling together, as one would expect in a burger."
Meat alternatives are commonly made using soy and/or mushrooms, and when prepared and seasoned correctly, they can create reasonable approximations of actual meat. Still, carnivorous consumers can usually tell that something is off. Until there’s a product that can fully recreate the meat-eating experience, it may be impossible to convince them to fully cut meat from their diets.
It's a challenge Brown understands well, and it's exactly what he’s shooting for with Impossible Foods. For now, there’s no word on when the Impossible Cheeseburger will hit your grocery store's freezer aisle, or how much it will cost. Still, with a team of more than 50 scientists, chefs, farmers, and engineers working together, it may only be a matter of time before bloody veggie burgers are on your dinner table.
To see more about the Impossible Cheeseburger and how it's made, check out this in-depth video from The Wall Street Journal: