This 'bloody' cheeseburger backed by Bill Gates doesn't actually contain meat

Impossible FoodsImpossible FoodsThe Impossible Foods cheeseburger.

The dark reddish-brown burger sizzles when you toss it on the grill. Slice it down the middle, and it shows pink at the center. It leaves a residue of bloody juices on the plate — but it doesn’t include an ounce of real meat.

Impossible Foods, a start-up from California, made this 100% plant-based cheeseburger that tastes, looks, and drips “blood” like a beef burger. It’s so convincing that investors, including Bill Gates and Swiss bank UBS, just backed the Impossible Foodsto the tune of $US108 million.

The company says the burger  — which includes a mix of fats, proteins, and nutrients from plants, grains, legumes, and amino acids  —  doesn’t contain cholesterol, antibiotics, or hormones. And according to a few early
tests, it supposedly tastes like real beef.

“Every molecule in our burger is something found in nature,” the company’s CEO Patrick Brown said in an interview with CNBC. Impossible Foods plans to release the patties to the public by 2016.

If Impossible Foods’ cheeseburger really does taste like meat, it could shake up the $US48 trillion global meat industry. 

Research shows that:

  • Animal farming uses 40% of Earth’s land surface and consumes as much as 76 trillion gallons of water per year.
  • Farmers feed cattle millions of tons of cheap corn each year in the U.S. But corn, which accounts for 95% of feed, diminishes healthy Omega-3 fatty acids in cattle and creates prime conditions for E. Coli.
  • Livestock creates an estimated 18% of human-caused greenhouse gases.

Similar start-ups, like Beyond Meat, have also experimented with meat substitutes, making soy-based “chicken” strips and taco-style ground “beef.” In 2013, physiologist Mark Post of the University of Maastricht created the world’s first cultured beef burger from thousands of individual muscle tissue in a lab. Lab-grown meat burgers could be on sale in as little as 5 years.

But if Impossible Foods wants to revolutionise the way we produce and consume meat, it will need to make its plant-based beef cheaper than real beef, Andy Wheeler, one of the company’s partners, tells Marketplace. Right now, one Impossible Foods burger costs $US20 to make, compared to $US2 for a normal burger.

Hopefully the burger will make the impossible possible and solve the carnivore’s dilemma.

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