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Biotechnology and health

Burger King is going to start selling a meat-free “Impossible Whopper”

The plant-based burger will be available at 57 locations in St. Louis starting today, but it could eventually be available in all the company’s 7,200 US restaurants—and beyond—if the trial is successful.  

What’s it made of? The patty incorporates heme extracted from soy plants’ roots. Heme is a molecule found in every living plant and animal, but most abundantly in animals. The company that created the burger, Impossible Foods, says that “heme is what makes meat taste like meat.”

Health benefits: The burger contains 15% less fat and 90% less cholesterol than a beef Whopper but costs $1 more. It comes with a dollop of mayonnaise, so it is merely vegetarian rather than vegan. The meat-free mix used in the burger is also used for recipes sold at the fast food chain, White Castle.

Mission Impossible: The burger has been developed as part of Impossible Foods’ overall mission to wean us off farmed meat for health, ethical, and environmental reasons. While meat-free patties are increasingly impressive, it’s a lot harder to re-create the experience of eating a steak. That’s the next frontier for Impossible and other meat-substitute startups.

For more about ways in which firms are creating "meat-free" meat read: The race to grow a planet-friendly steak


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