What's an impossible burger?

It's not quite meat...
13 August 2019


A few burgers on a table



What's an impossible burger, and would you eat one?


What's an impossible burger, and would you eat one?

Nadia - I would definitely eat one. It's a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way to consume burgers because this burger is pretty much a meat mimic. It tastes like meat and it looks like meat, but it's fully made from plant material. And the difference between other meat mimics, what I've been told, is that it has this added hemoglobin.

Chris - So this burger bleeds?

Nadia  - Yes! It has haemoglobin, but not from animals, from plants.

Chris - Because haemoglobin is the stuff in our red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body, it’s got iron it it. And this is why we like eating red meat because it’s good for your iron levels.

Nadia - Yes. So the haemoglobin that is added in this meat to mimic, this impossible burger, is to give that iron taste that we associate with meat. But this particular haemoglobin comes from plants, the gene itself comes from plants.

Chris - Doesn't it come from the nodules that you work on?

Nadia - Exactly, from soya beans.

Chris - Yeah because when you cut those across they do look a red colour don't they? I met a plant scientist who  said “yes that's this leghemoglobin molecule because the bacteria are actually very metabolically active, and they're using a lot of this stuff in order to maintain a high metabolism.

Nadia - So it functions the same way as the haemoglobin in our blood which is to carry oxygen, but in nodules, so when the bacterium is fixing nitrogen, it doesn't like to have a lot of oxygen. So what it does is this "leghaemoglobin", which makes the nodules very pink, is that to get the oxygen away from those bacteria that are fixing nitrogen.

Chris - So it keeps the oxygen away from the bacteria that need to fix the nitrogen?

Nadia - Yep!

Chris -  And so the the impossible burger makers are using this, so you can get genuinely vegan but...

Nadia - yeah -

Chris - ...good way of having iron in this plant-based burger?

Nadia - Yeah.

Chris - Are they any good?

Nadia - I haven't tried one but I have friends who actually already tried one. And she said that if no one told her that it was meat from plants she wouldn't even know.


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