Burger King’s Impossible Whopper Is the First Step on the Road to State-Enforced Vegetarianism – Washington Examiner

Burger Kings new Impossible Whopper worries me.

Why? Ill get to that, but first, some explanation. For those who have yet to be assaulted by the hype campaign, an Impossible Whopper is a hamburger with a meatless patty, relentlessly advertised as tasting every bit as toothsome as a garden-variety beef burger.

How do they do it? Burger King isnt telling, but Impossible Foods, the company that supplies the Impossible Whopper, is. The key to making Impossible meat is producing a substance called heme in a laboratory. Were told that heme is naturally occurring and is what makes meat taste like meat. But it is found in plants too and just needs to be isolated.

Heres how the Impossible people describe their process: We started by extracting heme from the root nodules of soybean plants, but we knew there was a better way. So we took the DNA from these soy plants and inserted it into a genetically engineered yeast.

This, one might imagine, could pose a conundrum for woke foodies. On the one hand, they have a way around meat and the industrialized slaughter it entails without having to accept the interminable tedium of eating kale, sprouts, and quinoa. But on the other hand, were talking about taking genes from soy plants and splicing them into genetically modified yeast. GMO, OMG!

Who would have thought something as mundane as a fast-food hamburger could encapsulate a generations cognitive dissonance? In the Impossible Whopper, we see the clash of two irreconcilable impulses: the devoted belief in anything labeled science and the enduring suspicion that science is a mysterious menace.

Burger Kings advertising has been telling us that the Impossible Whopper tastes just like a Whopper. And so, in the spirit of empirical science and discovery, I ventured to a Burger King this week to test the claim.

I found myself at a sticky linoleum table with two burgers on a tray. I started with a bite of the regular Whopper. If there was any beef in the bite, I wouldnt know, overwhelmed as I was by the flavors of bun, mayo, lettuce, mayo, pickle, mayo, ketchup, mayo, mayo, tomato, and mayo.

It was immediately clear to me why it was possible to have a meatless Whopper that tastes like a Whopper the beef is buried under a pile of salad gloppy with mayo. A bite of the Impossible Whopper proved the point.

But what about the meat substitute? How did it taste in isolation? Again, first I tried the actual Whopper, clearing away the salad to get a bite of plain burger patty. It had that tired, desiccated, cardboardy quality that is the hallmark of fast-food beef. And indeed, the Impossible Whopper patty succeeded in matching the regular one, low bar that that may be.

But on second bite, it was clear that the meatless meat was a product of the laboratory. The texture was dense and slightly spongy, not unlike tofu that has been dried and compressed. And the faux-meat flavor gave way to a curious chemical aftertaste. Nice try, Impossible Foods, but the meatless patty is to beef as a baked brisket drenched in Liquid Smoke is to actual wood-smoked BBQ.

And so I neednt let the Impossible Whopper worry me.

Why was I concerned in the first place? Because if synthetic meat succeeds at approximating the real thing, it wont be long before it isnt just an option but the only option. Why tolerate the abattoir when soybeans can be sacrificed rather than cows? Once meat-substitute is widely used, one day we will wake up to discover that activists have convinced regulators to outlaw the consumption of actual animal flesh.

Rib-eye steak, say hello to the plastic straw.

But not yet. Not yet because Impossible meat isnt quite good enough. It isnt exactly nasty, but it isnt nearly the sort of plausible substitute needed to provide cover for a campaign to impose government-enforced vegetarianism.

Still, watch out, because the synthetic stuff is bound to get better. Its not impossible.

Eric Felten is the James Beard Award-winning author of How's Your Drink?

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Burger King's Impossible Whopper Is the First Step on the Road to State-Enforced Vegetarianism - Washington Examiner

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