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Processed Plant Based Burgers. Doing the Impossible

Processed Plant Based Burgers. Doing the Impossible

As plant based (processed) burgers are gaining market share faster than you can sprout em, so too is their 'engineering'

It's not just the meat industry getting hot and bothered about the correct naming and placement of fake meat next to meat meat in the supermarket, but it's also the contents of fake meat burgers, that have some mother's voices raised higher than, "Stand in Line!" at the school sausage sizzle.

Mainstream markets

You can buy plant based mince and animal mince in major supermarkets - something that has meat producers in a spin because in Woolworths at least, it's sold in the meat section, alongside animal products. Euromonitor International says that Australia's packaged vegan food market is expected to be worth $215 million in two years. 

More than 2 million Australians eat plant based or mostly plant based diets right now and many meat eaters are increasingly keen to give something that tastes like a meat a go. You can now get a plant based burger at Grill'd, made by Beyond Meat - who just smashed 2019 IPO Rock Star launch of the Year (with apologies to Uber, who did not) this month.

It's important to look at what is actually in these foods. Just because something is (or seems to be) plant based, doesn't mean it gets a happy elephant stamp for being good. Nor does it mean that it has much in the way of actual plants in it.

Beyond Meat - IPO

If you think all this fake meat is only for vegans, you are in for a big surprise. Beyond Meat launched it's IPO on 2 May, specifically targeting a broad mainstream market and shares surged 163% on the day they launched. They have since have gone up more than 250% and the company is now valued at $5 billion. Not a bad effort considering they lost $30 million on $88 million revenue last  year.) 

The Impossible Burger 

The Impossible Burger is going head to head with Beyond Meat's burgers in USA. If you haven't heard, The Impossible Burger is 'amazing' and the one everyone is raving about - a burger that is close to the taste of meat as you can get. It even 'bleeds'. So that's definitely not targeting a signed up vegan or vegetarian.

It's not yet available in Australia, but by all reports from those who have tasted it, the product tastes bloody good. 

Glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA etc etc

The Impossible Burger happily tells you on their website, if you care to look, that it is made by genetically manipulating GMO soy leghemoglobin. The burger's main marketing ingredient is a yeast engineered from the gene in soy leghemoblobin that creates the 'meat' taste. (Yep, that's one hell of a patti making machine.) 

The Impossible Burger is marketed as 'healthy' so that claim is something you can judge for yourself. The key ingredient in the burger isn't actually a plant, but something that started a part of a plant, then cooked up in the laboratory using genetic engineering. (In all fairness to The Impossible Burger, if you read closely, it's not as if they make any real claims about large levels of plant content in the burgers anyway.) 

Ingredients List - The Impossible Burger

Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12. 

Ingredients List - Beyond Meat Burger

Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Contains 2% or less of the following: Cellulose from Bamboo, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Maltodextrin, Yeast Extract, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Dried Yeast, Gum Arabic, Citrus Extract (to protect quality), Ascorbic Acid (to maintain color), Beet Juice Extract (for color), Acetic Acid, Succinic Acid, Modified Food Starch, Annatto (for color). 

In the end

While this article focuses a lot of it's filling on The Impossible Burger, both burgers are fake, just different fake. Both are excellent examples of why you should never take something that is highly processed, on face value, or believe a label spruiking 'healthy'. Especially if it's made in a laboratory and it's ultra processed.

Read the label. Find out what your food is made of before you put it in your own or your child's mouth and if in doubt, go find something that bears a closer resemblance to a plant you once saw, close enough to be described as actually organic.

Images: Grill'd | The Impossible Burger
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Simone N

When I tried to go vegan I started buying the packaged stuff from the supermarket because I just didn’t have the knowledge yet to cook nutritions vegan food all the time. I started gaining weight and feeling unwell and my naturopath highlighted how unhealthy the packaged processed stuff was! Now we focus on eating tasty fresh local organic produce and have gradually changed our habits to eat less meat. Much healthier! I’m surprised the IPO went so well...or am I?! Friday, 24 May 2019