Peak Farmland

Finally Fake Meat that Tastes Deliciously Like the Real Thing

Tasty Impossible Burger uses 95 percent less land, uses 74 percent less water, and emits 87 percent less greenhouse gas.

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ImpossibleBurgerBailey
Ronald Bailey

I am an omnivore with strong carnivore tendencies. I grew up on a farm where my family slaughtered and butchered our own cows, pigs, chickens, goats, turkeys, lambs, and geese. We also ate an occasional squirrel, groundhog, opposum, and mud turtle. My father's rule with regard to butchering beef was cut everything that you can into steaks and make the rest into hamburger.

As a result of my upbringing, I am picky about the beef I eat. So I was a bit skeptical when two out-of-town science reporter acquaintances suggested we get together and eat some Impossible Burgers. I am now won over—Impossible Burgers will delight most carnivores.

Emma Marris (author of the superb Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World) and Charles C. Mann (author of the excellent 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus) and I trooped over yesterday to the Founders and Distillers restaurant, one of four dining establishments offering Impossible Burgers in Washington, D.C.

All three of us opted for the F&D All American—a double patty burger garnished with cheddar cheese, pickled relish, "comeback" sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onion. The Impossible Burger costs a dollar more than the beef version does.

The burgers arrived and upon close inspection there were no evident differences in the appearance of the patties from a regular beef burger. Of course, the real test was in the taste. We bit in and looked at each other with some surprise. The burgers tasted really good. They have the texture and mouth feel of a regular burger. There were even some delightful, off-the-grill crunchy charred bits scattered through the patties. Emma quipped that they tasted like the kind of burgers you'd get at a high school fundraising barbecue.

MannMarriBailey
Ronald Bailey

Unless you concentrated really hard, you'd never know that the burgers are made entirely of ingredients derived from plants.

Impossible Foods, a Silicon Valley start-up, manufactures the burgers chiefly from textured wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil, and leghemoglobin, the key ingredient. Leghemoglobin is an iron-containing molecule that occurs naturally in every single plant and animal. It is the abundance of this heme in animal muscles that gives meat much of its distinctive deliciousness. The heme in Impossible Burgers is derived from soybeans and produced by fermenting yeast genetically enhanced to make it.

Other than trying to placate vegetarians and vegans, why bother creating Impossible Burgers? Founder Patrick O. Brown says that the company is on a mission to make the global food system more sustainable. The company claims that compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95 percent less land, 74 percent less water, and creates 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.

Assuming that Impossible Burgers and other future plant-based meat competitors catch on with consumers, they will be another happy example of how human ingenuity is continuing our withdrawal from nature. These may be good reasons for people to eat Impossible Burgers, but I will happily do it because I enjoy the taste.

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  1. “Founder Patrick O. Brown says that the company is on a mission to make the global food system more sustainable.”

    We already produce more food than we can consume. Why are we still pretending like Paul R. Ehrlich was correct?

    Let those vegetarians starve

    1. Because if (And I am willing to doubt this if) the claim “that compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95 percent less land, 74 percent less water, and creates 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions” is true, it is a significantly more efficient process than cattle raising. Which matters in business. Even if you don’t buy the green angle, 95 percent less land is significant.

      That being said, it currently costs 1 dollar more, whether that’s because they can charge for novelty, a lack of scale in production, or simply that it does ultimately cost more to make I do not know.

      1. “Did you know that it takes a whole acre of grain to produce one pound of steak?”
        “Fuck you, Pat. An acre of grain tastes terrible with a baked potato.”

        1. I always thought that joke was silly because you should eat an acre’s worth of bread before the steak comes out anyway.

          1. Maybe in my twenties. I don’t know if it’s the encroachment of middle age or if i’m finally learning to pay attention to my body’s signals, but if a eat a ton of bread – no matter how delicious – i end up feeling bloated and tired and just generally unwell. However, if i eat a ton of steak, i feel full of energy and at peace with the world. Vegetables are good too, but i need that animal protein.

            1. Who knows. I just know I love the bread probably more than the meat. Which makes it sadder than I’m doing the low carb thing now.

              1. Low carb is hard, man.
                Me: “I’ve come to the conclusion that i really need to cut back on bread and pasta and stuff like that.”
                Wife: [immediately buys a bread machine]

                ?\_(?)_/?

                1. It’s hard, but I’m too fat and I find that diets that restrict what I eat in simple ways is easier for me to stick to than counting calories or something. I sometimes wonder if my libertarianism is related to my tendency to try to see things in black and white.

            2. This!

              Age has nothing to do with it, aside from finally having learned to read your body’s signals.

              I love good breads, grains, cereals, etc., but if I’ve been working physically hard all day, or am just really exhausted, then it’s time for a steak, large and rare. For whatever reason, I know I’ll get a good night sleep for sure after that!

              1. It’s the tryptophan, which is found in meat and dairy and which your body breaks down into serotonin (which makes you feel happy) and melatonin (which helps regulate your sleep).

                1. I figured that would be the response, but some times, some things (like a slab of dead steer on a plate) are just meant to be enjoyed and not overly questioned. As the religious amongst us might note “Beer is proof that God loves us” (although I prefer a nice full bodied red with my dead steer).

                  1. GroundTruth: To the pit of misery! Dilly Dilly!

        2. Here’s the ingredient list: Water, Textured Wheat Protein, Coconut Oil, Potato Protein, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Leghemoglobin (soy), Yeast Extract, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Vitamin C, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

          Extracted proteins involve a number of processes ..Textured wheat is similar to seitan. I’ve heard the founder claim that he’s not concerned about whether the ingredients are industrially sourced. (Industrial wheat uses a lot of synthetic nitrogen. Like corn, wheat is a nitrogen intensive crop). Though he argues that even industrially sourced ingredients like the wheat take up less land than animal Ag. Like many people, he doesn’t understand appropriate land use. So now he’s making a product requiring arable land to replace a product that doesn’t require arable land

          Moreover, and even more ironically, he making a food of products that are derived from human consumable foods to replace a food that can be raised with foods (grasses/crop residues/by-products) that humans can’t eat. So the product reduces food security.

          1. Not necessarily. It only reduces food security if it completely replaces actual meat. Which will never happen, regardless of how enthusiastically commie fucks like Bailey want it to.

      2. Because if (And I am willing to doubt this if) the claim “that compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95 percent less land, 74 percent less water, and creates 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions” is true, it is a significantly more efficient process than cattle raising. Which matters in business. Even if you don’t buy the green angle, 95 percent less land is significant.

        I’d be interested in how they got to those numbers. Whether it’s actual measured costs or they just selected the best stats from their sources and compared it to your average spherical cow. Sure, you can grow wheat for decades on a patch of land no cow could survive on and charge more for it.

        1. Well, when it comes to the water usage claims, virtually all the water ‘consumed’ in beef production is rain falling on corn fields and grass forage. Only a small amount of the corn crop is artificially irrigated.

          I rather suspect when people bring it up, they want the listener to think that beef requires a significant level of artificial irrigation.

        2. Agreed. It’s always worthwhile to be suspicious of stats in general. But particularly those that make grandiose claims such as that.

          Though, they also just completely ignore the costs of transforming the ingredients. I don’t know how complex the process is, but my guess is a fair amount.

          1. Spoiler alert: they transform the ingredients by feeding them to a cow. Then you eat the cow.

            1. Yeah, but the cow is a vegetarian, so it’s all good.

      3. The metrics used are taken out of context and don’t reflect different production methods. Take for example the water usage number you always hear bantered around that it takes 1800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. How do they come up with this figure? (8% of the water is the amount of water required to grow the feed grasses or forage. And with 100% grass finished cattle 98% of that water for grasses is green water. What’s green water? Primarily rain. So the real issue is what’s the most effective use of that rain. Most of the earth’s land mass isn’t suitable for crop production. More land is suitable for grazing (and that’s also why more land is used for animal ag). So it may actually take MORE blue water (irrigation) to grow wheat than is required to deep rooted perennial grasses, Blue water is what’;s critical. Not to mention all that mutagenic wheat is grown with herbicides and synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. Where rangeland and integrated beef production doesn’t require these chemical inputs.

        So, in other words, stats are created to further marketing narratives…but stats are deceiving if you don’t really understand what the numbers represent. Or, as Twain said, “There are lies, damn lies, and stats.”

        These products reliant on industrial Ag are green washing. They’re not sustainable whereas well managed pastured beef can actually regenerative since it helps build soil and restore soil health.

      4. I’ll pay attention when it’s a buck less. Until then, it’s bs hype. The list of ‘new, better and cheaper’ promised products that never arrive is huge.

        1. Still waiting for my flying car.

          1. I’m honestly shocked that the HondaJet is finally coming to market.

    2. This. It would be much more satisfying if he were honest and said, “Because in the long run it will be cheaper and I plan to make a mint off of it and my patents.”

    3. A better read on this topic-
      Fake meat: Impossibly hard to swallow – http://sustainablefoodtrust.or…..o-swallow/

  2. Ron, are you the one with the silly grin for the camera?

    1. c: I should I look so good. No that’s Charles Mann.

      1. Whew! That’s a relief. You look very stern and serious about your fake meat. Like any True Libertarian should.

        1. He looks like he’s about to ask them for all the bacon and eggs they have.

          1. Like a true libertarian, he strives to only eat meat in ways that deny God’s will.

  3. Sorry Ron, you lost me at soy.

    1. K: It’s only for the heme – and that’s genetically modified! Win/win!

    2. Here’s the ingredient list: Water, Textured Wheat Protein, Coconut Oil, Potato Protein, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Leghemoglobin (soy), Yeast Extract, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Vitamin C, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

      Extracted proteins involve a number of processes ..Textured wheat is similar to seitan. I’ve heard the founder claim that he’s not concerned about whether the ingredients are industrially sourced. (Industrial wheat uses a lot of synthetic nitrogen. Like corn, wheat is a nitrogen intensive crop). Though he argues that even industrially sourced ingredients like the wheat take up less land than animal Ag. Like many people, he doesn’t understand appropriate land use. So now he’s making a product requiring arable land to replace a product that doesn’t require arable land

      Moreover, and even more ironically, he making a food of products that are derived from human consumable foods to replace a food that can be raised with foods (grasses/crop residues/by-products) that humans can’t eat. So the product reduces food security.

  4. I eat a steak once a week. NY strip or rib eye. Some times a top sirloin or filet. Th fat makes it good. Also ,real eef has nutrients you an not get from plants.

    1. I’m assuming the taste of fat comes from the coconut oil and seasonings. It wouldn’t taste like real beef if they hadn’t found a substitute. Although coconut gives me indigestion.

      1. SH: Yes the very convincing “marbling” in the patties is achieved using coconut oil.

        1. I know it’s in quotes Ron, but your ‘beef consumer’ credentials take a hit when you type a sentence like that.

    2. Yeah, unless it’s injected with B12 and a million other substances, some yet to be discovered, it’s not going to have the same nutrition profile as real meat.

      Still, to each their own.

      1. Baby steps to food replicators. Tea, hot, Earl Gray.

      2. At the same time, people are routinely astounded when they serve me “a burger” and I can identify that it’s made with beans, tofu, turkey, pork, or even chicken. Like once you grind up meat it’s the you shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between it and cardboard. If it’s closer to beef than tofu and turkey, I’ll take it over tofu and turkey any day of the week.

        1. Ground pork is great on it’s own though. It needn’t be a subsitute for beef. (Full disclosure, I prefer pork to beef. Fuller disclosure, I may be a hog farmer)

          1. “Hog farmer” is the best, worst euphemism yet.

          2. Ground pork is great on it’s own though. It needn’t be a subsitute for beef. (Full disclosure, I prefer pork to beef. Fuller disclosure, I may be a hog farmer)

            I don’t even mind chicken as chicken. Just, if you ground it up, dye it, or grill the hell out of it and serve it to me on a bun under the guise of ‘burger’ it’s akin to offering vinegar as wine. Even at like 10:90 other:ground beef it’s like “What’s the other ‘stuff’ in this hamburger?”

          3. It’s ok, BUCS. I like a girl with some curves to her too.

        2. Why would you even associate with someone who would serve you tofu or turkey burgers?

  5. “Emma quipped that they tasted like the kind of burgers you’d get at a high school fund-raising barbecue.”

    Doesn’t sound so much like a quip as an insult.

    1. b: I have a great fondness for burgers cooked on decades-old grills in greasy spoon diners.

      1. Man after my own heart. Always good to see other diner-food lovers.

      2. My interpretation is less charitable. It sounds more like “this is barely passable as bottom-of-the-barrel meat”.

      3. b: I have a great fondness for burgers cooked on decades-old grills in greasy spoon diners.

        Me, too. But that is not this–

        “the kind of burgers you’d get at a high school fund-raising barbecue”

    2. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Do they really think schools spend any more money than absolutely necessary on those patties.

      1. In the 80s/90s I always assumed the burgers they made at school were half soy.

        They sure as hell didn’t taste anywhere near as good as the burgers we made at home, and the texture was awful as well.

        1. In the 80s/90s I always assumed the burgers they made at school were half soy.

          I feel like a read somewhere that they were more like 80% soy. McDonald’s hamburgers, too.

          1. I’d always heard that was just the nature of institutional-grade beef, the stuff that by USDA fiat could only legally be served in schools and prisons. If there’s soy in it, it’s probably as a thickening agent for the pink slime.

            1. That’s what I recall, too – similar to calling ketchup a “vegetable.”

          2. McDonalds hamburgers though didn’t taste or feel the same way as school food.

            I suppose maybe the difference is McDonalds burgers had to ensure customers liked the food so they added salt and spices. The school didn’t really have that problem so why bother with making the food palatable.

            1. I suppose maybe the difference is McDonalds burgers had to ensure customers liked the food so they added salt and spices. The school didn’t really have that problem so why bother with making the food palatable.

              I suspect there’s something to that. To me, McDonalds’ burgers always tasted just like school burgers, but I never liked either one, and haven’t had either one since the early ’80s, so mine is probably not the most nuanced opinion.

  6. Fake meat is an abomination.

    1. You, sir, just lost sexual aid advertising dollars.

    2. Fake meat: Impossibly hard to swallow – http://sustainablefoodtrust.or…..o-swallow/

  7. So it tastes like beef, great. Does it have the same nutritive value as beef?

  8. Looks cool. And nice to know that, if it takes off, there could be even better options for carnivores in a vegetarian place. That said, what’s the nutrition like compared to real beef? I guess it’d still be high in protein, but what about them fats?? And is the wheat protein cause for the glutenphobes to panic?

    I bet I could find these answers on my own, but Ron is inexplicably responsive to comments, and I’ve yet to exploit that.

    1. U: Inexplicable? In any case, the server did ask if anyone was “allergic” to gluten or soy.

      1. According to the Impossible Foods website, each 3 oz serving has:

        13 g of fat (10 grams being saturated)
        5 g of carbohydrates
        20 g of protein

        Not terribly different. There’s a couple places that sell it nearby, so I may check it out.

  9. Charles Mann is awesome. 1491 and its sequel 1493 are two of the best non-fiction books i’ve ever read.

    1. Though that picture gives the aura of a man who has never blinked in his life.

      1. When you’re high on utterly and convincingly refuting what everyone thinks they know about history, you don’t need to blink.

  10. How many grams of carbs per serving?

  11. I’m not about to give up my red-meat burgers, but if more (satisfying!) veggie burgers helps keep down my cholesterol and weight, I’m down.

    What’s next, french fries made from mutton?

    1. veggie burgers helps keep down my cholesterol and weight
      Not a likely outcome.

      1. You’re probably from the, ‘Get off your fat ass and walk outside’, bandwagon, aren’tcha? Well poo on you.

  12. Ron, Wired had a good article from a few months back about these burgers, and how the FDA hadn’t fully given them their blessing as safe to eat. At least one environmentalist group mounted some sort of lawsuit over it, arguing (if I understood correctly) that some of the ingredients haven’t been studied enough to say they’re safe for human consumption.

    It didn’t sound terribly convincing to me, and I am personally pretty eager to try one of these things. But I was wondering if you know anything about what the FDA has or hasn’t said and if there is any good basis for concern about food safety issues.

    1. Call me a cynic (and you’ll be correct), but many environmentalist groups are simply generic prohibitionists who object to any human enjoying anything. They want you to eat tofu and hate it; if you say you like tofu, then they’ll find some reason you shouldn’t eat that. That this stuff tastes pretty much like good beef is exactly what’s pissing them off.

      1. That is my general take, too. But I figure even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

        Mostly, I am just afraid that, for someone who loves the taste of meat but feels guilty eating animals, this is too good to be true and there has to be a catch.

        1. Mostly, I am just afraid that, for someone who loves the taste of meat but feels guilty eating animals, this is too good to be true and there has to be a catch.

          And that’s a real concern – people tend to assume that “meat-free”=”healthy” so that if they buy a meat-free “hot dog” they’re being healthy. But actually, meat-free hot dogs have some nasty shit in them that make them easily as bad for you as regular hot dogs.

  13. Making the most favorable economy of scale assumptions, how much will a pound of impossible ground burger cost at my local megamart?

    1. One thing I wonder is does it even come in a ground form, or are the patties produced directly? Can I make an Impossible Meatloaf? Impossible Hamburger Helper? Impossible Hamburger Steak? I don’t really know many hamburger recipes… impossible chili?

      1. Based on some of the reviews I’ve read, you don’t want to try a meatloaf. Chili, maybe tacos–but there’s a reason they use it to make smashed griddle burgers.

        A burger allows the taste to be disguised with veggies, toppings and condiments. This makes it’s beeflike flavor much more beefy and disguises the slightly wheaty, seaweedy flavor the patty has on it’s own.

  14. “The heme in Impossible Burgers is derived from soybeans and produced by fermenting yeast genetically enhanced to make it.”

    I grew up vegetarian.

    After suffering increasingly serious health problems up to and including life threatening internal hemorrhaging, it was determined that I suffer allergic type reactions and other problems caused by my body’s inability to process certain molecules–the molecule in question being associated with legumes.

    Making vegetarians allergic to legumes is like making fish allergic to water.

    I’ve had reactions to soybeans, peanuts, peas, and garbanzo beans–they’re molecularity indistinguishable. Try to find non-meat foods that don’t have any of that in it. I dare you. Try to find bread in your grocery store without soybean oil. I bet it has soy flour in it.

    Sometimes I think the universe is having fun with me. Not satisfied with driving me to eat meat because of a soy allergy, the universe has now conspired to replace meat with soy. I can only imagine what comes next. Perhaps they’ll replace my freedom to drive my own motorcycle around with one of Musk’s damn tube rides–or better yet, we’ll all be forced to replace our girlfriends with an even better soy based substitute.

    1. I’ve had reactions to soybeans, peanuts, peas, and garbanzo beans–they’re molecularity indistinguishable.

      That sucks, those last three are all fine foods. The first one can be, but not always.

    2. I have friends who are having a similar experience – they tried to raise their son vegetarian, but found that he’s allergic to soy and peanuts, among other things, which makes it pretty much impossible.

    3. Making vegetarians allergic to legumes is like making fish allergic to water.

      I question your biology education.

  15. And now a word from our sponsor….

  16. Being vegetable based, I’m sure they can be cooked medium-rare but, do you get the medium-rare effect? Or, is the best you can do, “brown throughout but, slightly cooler in the middle”

  17. Why do vegans and vegetarians waste their time trying to make ‘mock meats’? It’s almost like they are admitting our bodies naturally crave meat……Just eat your vegetables and shut up.

    1. Half of them do this; the other half are too busy brainwashing themselves into believing they don’t like the taste of meat.

    2. Have always found this to be a lame argument. So, why do carnivores insist on wrapping their sacred meat in vegetables and carbs? Why not just eat a big bowl of plain meat and shut up? Not a vegetarian, but once in awhile I would like to enjoy a hamburger or hot dog knowing that an animal didn’t have to die for my meal.

      1. Because we’re omnivores?

      2. Because the meat and cheese gets all over your hands.

        Jack in the Box did a commercial about this.

      3. Why not just eat a big bowl of plain meat and shut up?

        We do this quite often. I think someone needs to introduce you to a grill.

      4. Someone has never been introduced to steak. Or chicken breasts. Or pork chops. Or…

    3. Why do vegans and vegetarians waste their time trying to make ‘mock meats’?

      They don’t. These are people who are trying to capture a market for people who feel a vague pull to try to be vegetarian but who can’t imagine life without meat.

      I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years+ and can honestly say I have no desire to eat meat. I don’t stare longingly at hunks of flesh on other people’s plates.

      I don’t even really have an ideology about it any more – I simply wouldn’t french kiss a dog, and the thought of carving a chunk out of a pig’s ass and sticking it in my mouth and chewing it up is just repulsive. And I don’t mean that in a judgy way – it’s just a matter of personal preference. I’m disgusted by olives and mushrooms, as well.

      As a result, I don’t need to eat things that look-and-taste like burgers. I don’t care whether someone can make hydrolyzed vegetable protein have the “look and feel” of real animal flesh, because that’s not something I would find appetizing anyway.

      1. Oh, you poor thing.

        25 years and you’re still saying stuff like this–

        “I don’t stare longingly at hunks of flesh on other people’s plates.”

        “I simply wouldn’t french kiss a dog, and the thought of carving a chunk out of a pig’s ass and sticking it in my mouth and chewing it up is just repulsive”

        “And I don’t mean that in a judgy way ”

        No. not in a ‘judgy’ way. In an envious way. We understand.

        1. I’ve always been squeamish about meat. I can only eat it if it’s lean, off the bone, and very, very well-done. I actually envy those who love and crave it, and wish I didn’t have my aversion. We all have different tastes, and you shouldn’t take it so personally (or doubt their word) when someone doesn’t like something you love.

          1. Lots of people get incredibly defensive when confronted with a longtime vegetarian.

            Some of our closest family friends are hunters – they go out to the woods with their kids, kill deer and bring them home and eat them. The kids are involved in every step of the process and are taught the importance of respecting the animal.

            Some of our other closest family friends are lapsed vegans who eat store-bought meat but feel incredibly guilty about it and wish that world wasn’t such that they were forced to violate their deeply held principles in that way.

            I have 100% more respect for the former family.

            1. Yeah. I’m bothered by people who are super squeamish with meat and put forth effort to avoid thinking about how it was once an animal. If it upsets you that much, then be a vegetarian. There’s nothing wrong with that. When you’re eating meat though, something has died for you to do so. It’s more insulting to try to pretend otherwise to ease your conscience.

              1. Until about 5 years ago I was a pretty disciplined vegetarian. It’s easy to do when you prepare all your meals at home, but finding viable options at most restaurants is difficult. And I hated explaining to people why I didn’t like to eat meat. I’ve never thought hunting or eating animals was immoral. But if given the option to choose between a tasty plant-based meal or an animal one, I would prefer the former. And I agree with Square = Circle in regards to those who hunt their own meat. They get their hands dirty and are under no illusions about where their meal came from.

                1. It’s easy to do when you prepare all your meals at home, but finding viable options at most restaurants is difficult.

                  Indeed. Especially now that it’s essentially impossible to find so much as a bowl of macaroni or a salad that doesn’t have bacon tossed in. Thankfully, I live in an area where Asian food is very, very common.

                  And I hated explaining to people why I didn’t like to eat meat

                  This x 1000. So many people take it as a personal attack and develop a tenacious need to get you to agree that its okay for them to eat meat.

                  Although it’s worth noting that my deer-hunting friend’s reaction was, “Huh. Well, to each his own, I guess.”

                  But he’s a libertarian, too.

              2. If it upsets you that much, then be a vegetarian.

                Exactly.

                People who unapologetically eat meat don’t bother me at all. But the people who bug me the most, in all areas of morality, are people who think x is wrong but do it anyway and either rationalize or cocoon themselves into a nice, sweet bubble of denial.

                If you think something is wrong, then don’t do it. Period.

                1. What I find interesting is how even people who love meat have lines they do not cross. For instance, while they’re OK with eating cows, pigs, and chickens, the mere suggestion of eating cats or dogs fills them with horror–and they condemn cultures that do. Although I’m averse to eating both of those animals for emotional reasons, on an intellectual level I don’t see any difference in slaughtering and eating those as well.

                  1. Yeah – it’s the companionship thing. When you “get to know” an animal, it starts to feel more like a friend, and eating it starts to seem morally wrong.

                    I recall in the 19th century West, one of the things that settlers found truly horrifying about the desert tribes was that they would capture horses and eat them, which was considered just savage and ignoble.

                    Meanwhile, AFAIK, people in those cultures where it’s okay to eat dogs and cats don’t keep them as pets, and find western cultures where we let filthy animals enter our houses and sleep in our beds to be really, really weird.

                  2. What I find interesting is how even people who love meat have lines they do not cross.

                    Apart from some emotional reason, I suspect taste and texture has a lot to do with it.

                    From what I understand, the meat of scavenger/carnivore mammals is typically not as pleasant tasting as the meat from herbivores.

            2. This x 1000. So many people take it as a personal attack and develop a tenacious need to get you to agree that its okay for them to eat meat.

              IME it’s due to the natural preachy habits of vegetarians. Most of us meat eaters don’t go around preaching about our grocery shopping habits. The bristling you encounter is because we already know why you want to talk about it. You want to evangelize.

              1. IME it’s due to the natural preachy habits of vegetarians.

                That’s a fair point.

                Vegetarians are like Christians. There are lots of perfectly nice vegetarians around who never mention it to anyone (I don’t, for example, as a general rule). But the ones you are going to notice are the proselytizers, who are fucking annoying.

                This is why we emphasize to our daughter “it’s okay that you don’t eat meat, and it’s okay that other people do. Don’t criticize what other people eat, because that’s obnoxious.”

    4. It isn’t fake meat as much as an entree. We used to eat fake chicken–covered it in ketchup. You’d never put ketchup on chicken like that, but this stuff wasn’t really like chicken.

      Oh and don’t forget the most successful vegetarian dish of all time–breakfast cereal.

      Kellogg marketed the stuff as a healthy alternative to bacon and eggs. They don’t always substitute meat for fake meat–although you can get fake bacon, most folks just eat a bowl of cereal.

      1. It isn’t fake meat as much as an entree.

        ^ This. And as such, the best vegetarian proteins are staples of Asian cultures where vegetarianism has long been common – seitan, tofu and paneer, which used properly are just their own thing, not “fake meats.”

        But not tempeh – that shit’s inedible.

    5. I don’t think the vast majority of vegans and vegetarians object to the taste of meat; they object to eating animals. So, I’m not sure where you’re going with this.

  18. …and creates 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.

    I’m sorry, but no matter how many spices you add to make it the same or what alternative bits you cook into it to give a similar texture, you will never convince me that you can substitute less for fewer.

  19. Emma quipped that they tasted like the kind of burgers you’d get at a high school fund-raising barbecue.

    I’ve never had a good High school fund raising burger so i think I’ll pass

    1. That is a hell of a backhanded compliment. “Hey this chicken tastes just like the chicken patties you used to get at the school cafeteria”.

      1. It’s spelled ‘chik’n”

  20. I wish they would develop lab grown fish. Fishing is a bigger problem than cattle ranching. I swear every time Ron talks about how something reduces greenhouse gases, I just got to go rev a V8 motor for a few hours just for fun. It would be nice if Ron would finally breakaway from that cult.

    1. You may not be Ron’s intended audience.

    2. How do you feel about farmed fish?

  21. I finally remembered where I’d heard of the the Impossible Burger before.

    Here’s a Youtube clip of Jeremy Clarkson trying an Impossible Burger and liking it.

    1. I should add, having watched the whole thing over that he did note a difference between the real burger and the Impossible Burger and that the fake meat wasn’t in his opinion as good.

      He also kind of made the same point as Tom Bombadil|11.17.17 @ 1:10PM, with which I completely concur.

      1. The fact that it doesn’t look and taste like a loufa is an enormous improvement. That being said, unless you are in the global warming cult, meat consumption does not harm the environment anymore than making whatever these things are. Outside of vegetarians who want to be able to eat meat, it is really a solution in search of a problem.

        1. True.

  22. My father’s rule with regard to butchering beef was cut everything that you can into steaks and make the rest into hamburger.

    This is an important point. I think cows are grown for the purpose of selling $10/lb steaks, not $2/lb hamburger. That’s why steak is expensive and hamburger is cheap.

    Veggie burgers aren’t going to impact the number of cows produced and consumed except in the most indirect way. Perhaps people could switch to soy burgers, which drives down the price of burgers and up the price of steaks which then reduces the demand for cows overall. But given the interplay of bone meal and collagen markets, this seems unlikely to have a measurable impact. It’s certainly not going to cut greenhouse emissions by an amount proportionate to the sales of fake burgers.

    In other words, it’s not a simple 1:1 substitution yielding an 87% cut in anything.

    1. So, to summarize: A 1200 steer, ? inch fat, average muscling, yields a 750 pound carcass. The 750 pound carcass yields approximately:

      490 pounds boneless trimmed beef
      150 pounds fat trim
      110 pounds bone
      A specific example of how the 490 pounds of boneless, trimmed beef could break out includes:

      185 pounds lean trim, or ground beef
      85 pounds round roasts and steaks
      90 pounds chuck roasts and steaks
      80 pounds rib and loin steaks
      50 pounds other cuts (brisket, flank, short ribs, skirt steak)

      http://igrow.org/livestock/bee…..fed-steer/

      So, I think steaks are the value driver, not ground beef.

  23. Impossible Foods, a Silicon Valley start-up, manufactures the burgers chiefly from textured wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil, and leghemoglobin, the key ingredient.

    Just like using hamburger bread to sponge up Foghorn Leghorn’s blood. With potato chips.

    1. I do kind of like those shitty hot dog/hamburger buns.

  24. The Impossible Burger: How does it taste in a meat loaf

  25. What would really be a great trick (and infinitely more valuable to mankind) would be to grow anything really edible to humans on the kind of soil and in an environment that requires 11-12 acres to sustain one cow.

  26. A better article on this topic –
    Fake meat: Impossibly hard to swallow – http://sustainablefoodtrust.or…..o-swallow/

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