There was a time when it felt like plant-based foods made for great Facebook jokes to those outside of the community, but no one is laughing anymore.
The ubiquity of plant-based meat is now apparent, especially with Impossible Foods announcing this past Wednesday that they are collaborating with a meat processing company called OSI Group.
You’re probably wondering, “WTF does that mean?” Well, what it means is that they now have the capability to ramp up production of their Impossible meats as quickly as it is being demanded — which is a lot.
OSI Group operates over 65 facilities in 17 countries. That gives Impossible a tag team partner that can expand its plant-based product in a way we would have never thought possible.
“OSI has already installed equipment to make the Impossible Burger, and we’ll start seeing new capacity every week.” Senior Vice President of Product and Operations Sheetal Shah said.
Impossible Foods has been making waves for at least five years now, slowly popping up at restaurants across the U.S. from Umami Burger to Momofuku Nishi in New York. Then we started seeing them really pick up production by teaming up with White Castle, which gave them a taste of distributing to a pretty big chain. Then they announced that they would soon be producing Impossible Whoppers for ALL Burger Kings, and it made one wonder how exactly they were going to pick up such a huge production.
Teaming up with OSI now gives them the capability to sustain the demand that a chain like Burger King might bring, along with the possibility of getting into supermarkets the way Beyond Meat has.
In other words, having the plant based company join a global distributor opens the door for anything. We can start seeing Impossible Burgers at more chain restaurants, at more mom & pop restaurants, sports venues, and pretty much anywhere you normally see a burger.
Impossible Foods has found a teammate that can match its big dreams, and that is exciting news for the future of plant-based meats.
Impossible Foods has also taken this opportunity to test a sweet and spicy sausage for the pizza, as opposed to the standard ground-meat that has been used in markets until now.
Unfortunately, the pizza is only being trialed in three Little Caesars test markets located in Florida, New Mexico, and Washington state, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. local time.
We can be hopeful that it will launch nationwide, though, as Impossible has been ambitious with its production of late, even planning a nationwide burger launch with Burger King, which would be its biggest rollout to date.
While it may be April Fool’s day, it’s no joke that the plant-based movement has widely taken over fast food. The latest chain to join the hype train is Burger King, who’s teaming up with Impossible Foods to make a meat-free version of their iconic Whopper.
Starting April 1st, Burger King’s first test of the Impossible Whopper will be rolling out in St. Louis, Missouri. 59 different locations in the area will offer up the plant-based take on BK’s signature burger. The flame grilled Impossible Patty will be served in standard Whopper style, with mayo, lettuce, tomato, white onions, pickles, and ketchup.
The Impossible Whopper will not be vegan by nature, however, since it contains mayonnaise as part of the build. Since the bun is vegan (based on Burger King’s website), however, you can get an entirely vegan version simply by removing the mayo.
For those wondering if there’s an actual April Fool’s joke here, the appearance of the Impossible Whopper is 100% happening. What may be considered a “prank,” though, is when those who order one of these burgers get tricked into believing it’s actually beef.
There’s no current timetable for how long the Impossible Whopper will be around in St. Louis. Hopefully, though, it does well enough to merit a nationwide launch in the near future.
In 2017, 400 million fewer animals were killed for meat production than in 2007. That marks a 10% reduction in per capita meat consumption during the past decade. As meat alternatives have become tastier and more comparable to real meat, more people are open to going vegan for a meal or two. The plant-based diet, once on the fringes of American consumption habits, is now part of the daily discussion of what and how we eat. While we live in a world that’s continually searching for the next health craze, more and more people are finding that one of the more beneficial lifestyles has been right in front of them for decades. But what makes the vegan diet so appealing that everybody from Jay-Z to Kyrie Irving is dabbling in it?
For some, it’s the fact that the vegan diet has become much more appealing as plant-based innovation constantly reaches new levels of deliciousness. No single product is a better example of that than the Impossible Burger, the plant-based, “bloody patty” from Impossible Foods. Over the past couple of years, the burger’s been introduced to the world through fast food chains, restaurants, and chefs known for their carnivorous creations, not their vegan food.
This includes Monty’s Good Burger, a restaurant rewriting the rules of traditional burger havens like In-N-Out and showing that a plant-based burger can thrive amongst them. Umami Burger, one of the first to adopt the Impossible Patty, has gone on to see nearly 20% of its sales come from the vegan substitute. Even chains like White Castle and Fatburger have hopped on the early hype train and found widespread success with their alternative burgers.
Impossible Foods has built on this success to launch a second version of their vegan patty. Called the Impossible Burger 2.0, it’s an even better replica to ground beef that can stand up to grills and stews as well as a standard flat top griddle, extending its applications to more than just a burger.
Because the Impossible Burger 2.0 almost perfectly mimics the taste of ground beef, restaurants across the country substitute it for a vegan counterpart to their standard burger offerings. It’s a product targeted for the meat lovers, not the meat haters, but both are finding it to be incredibly delicious.
It’s not just ground beef that Impossible Foods can replicate, however. COO David Lee told Foodbeast that the company also has the technology for “Impossible” dairy, chicken, and fish, all of which the company expects to debut in the very near future.
While Impossible Foods makes the most headlines of all vegan food businesses, it is merely leading the charge in an increasingly revolutionary industry. From plant-based butchers to nut and protein-packed “milks,” just about every animal and animal product out there has a comparable vegan substitute today. Plant-based seafood is being perfected by businesses like New Wave Foods, while Follow Your Heart and Miyoko’s Kitchen are well known for their ooze-worthy cheesy substitutes. Even junk food items, like fried chicken at KFC and the Temple of Seitan in London, are getting a scrumptious plant-based upgrade.
A lot of this innovation stems from a desire for vegan food that satiates as much as it provides health benefits. Too often, the stereotype is that vegans eat “rabbit food,” or just pure veggies that are seen as lacking in flavor or indulgence. Today’s plant-based food scene is the exact opposite of that, as many of the plant-based creations prevalent today are based on indulgence. Whether it be vegan cheeses, “meats,” or spreads of plant-based desserts, the proof is there that you can still treat yourself while avoiding eating animals.
All of these items make it incredibly easy to go vegan since you can still enjoy many of the foods you’d be restricting yourself from otherwise. As such, it’s made it pretty easy for more people, including celebrities and especially athletes, to switch to this lifestyle.
From the athletic perspective, adopting a vegan diet, whether whole or in part, has the appeal of helping to cut weight and increase energy. A massive expose from SB Nation revealed the plant-based dietary habits of some of the NBA’s top talent. All-Star players like Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard have shed weight in the summer offseason after switching to a vegan lifestyle, and both have performed at superstar levels this season. For Irving, he attributed his dietary change to an increase in energy and level of play in a postgame interview with ESPN’s Chauncey Billups.
“[My] energy is up, my body feels amazing. Just understanding what the diet is like for me and what’s beneficial for me for having the highest energy out here and being able to sustain it at a very high level.”
Damian Lillard cut 10 pounds by going vegan, which he says has helped keep the pressure off of his joints and feet. He told OregonLive Sports that so far, it’s really paid off.
“Getting older and you don’t want to let that age sneak up on you where you just get in the habit of eating whatever you want to eat because I know I’m gonna burn it off when it’s time to play… I feel much better. I thought it was all hype. I thought people just said it just because it was a healthier food but I can feel it. I can definitely feel it.”
The plant-based athlete movement has grown far beyond the reaches of basketball. In 2019, vegan meat powerhouse Beyond Meat had up to a dozen high-profile athletes across several sports as brand ambassadors and investors. This includes Irving, Shaquille O’Neal, superstar football wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Olympic skier Lindsay Vonn, and snowboarding legend Shaun White.
On the celebrity end, Jay-Z and Beyonce are proving that veganism is going mainstream. Their recent intro in the book The Greenprint: Plant-Based Diet, Best Body, Better World encourages folks to give the lifestyle a try. The book, written by Beyonce’s trainer Marco Borges, is itself an outline of how simple it is to switch to plant-based, with The Greenprint giving the general public a blueprint on how to move to the diet and its many benefits. If Bey & Jay are encouraging everyone to give something a shot, you know that the movement has made it big time, and this book is definite proof of that.
Through this widespread growth of public figures supporting plant-based lifestyles, the industry’s growth itself has skyrocketed, with more and more general consumers willing to consume it on a weekly basis.
Vegan food has proliferated so much in today’s culture that even major players in the food industry are introducing plant-based products. For the first time ever, McDonald’s introduced a McVegan burger that caters to the increasingly popular lifestyle. While it’s only in Finland and Sweden for now, it gained international recognition because of how unprecedented it was. Never before had a chain the size and scale of McDonald’s created an item solely for vegans. Since the McVegan was announced, other major chains, including White Castle and KFC as mentioned previously, have debuted or begun experimenting with their own plant-based options.
In the case of White Castle, they’ve teamed up with Impossible Foods to bring a plant-based slider to all of their locations nationwide. KFC created a vegan fried chicken as a test for the UK area, and Carl’s Jr. got in on the fun with their own incarnation of a Beyond Burger to kick off 2019. Even Pizza Hut has developed their own vegan cheese and vegan jackfruit pizzas, both of which debuted over the past year in the UK.
McDonald’s isn’t the only food industry titan to recognize the plant-based game. Tyson Foods has an investment stake in fast-growing Beyond Meat, and Nestle has officially declared it a “leading trend” in the future of food, with their own version of a plant-based burger coming some time this year. It goes to show not just how powerful and widespread veganism has become in this day and age, but the power it’ll have in the ages to come.
Going vegan clearly isn’t the borderline fad that it used to be. With everyone from professional athletes to major fast food chains incorporating the diet, plant-based has evolved into one of the major diets in the country. With the world moving towards a future where the meat-centric Western diet will become unsustainable, veganism’s emergence may even have a greater importance soon than just being a diet that today’s most popular celebs are converting to.
Chipotle’s Sofritas have long been dominating the fast food vegan game, but they just got a brand new competitor from one of the custom burrito chain’s biggest rivals: Qdoba.
Photo courtesy of Qdoba
Qdoba has teamed up with the revolutionary plant-based meat company to create their own ground beef alternative that can match the real deal on flavor and texture. It’s available in bowl, burrito, and taco forms.
The Impossible meat is also spiced up in Qdoba’s style, with tomatoes, garlic, smoked chilies, paprika, and red onions permeating throughout. It makes for a solid contender to Sofritas as a fast food vegan burrito option, especially since Qdoba’s version tastes closer to actual meat.
For now, folks in the Detroit Metro, Flint, Lansing, and Traverse City areas of Michigan can try it on the menu as part of a regional test.
Last year, Monty’s Good Burger took Los Angeles by storm, hitting the scene as what’s essentially the vegan answer to In-N-Out. Located in Koreatown, the burger shack based their menu around plant-based ingredients and was lauded as a vegan fast food lover’s paradise.
Guests could find the meatless variation of pretty much any In-N-Out item, including burgers, fries, and floats.
Now, like every other popping fast food joint, Monty’s is also offering a secret menu item.
The Dog Pile Fries features the restaurant’s julienne fries and crispy tater tots topped with slices of Follow Your Heart Non-Dairy cheese, grilled onions, pickles, and two Impossible 2.0 burger patties topped with a bevy of savory sauces including a vegan take on Thousand Island dressing. It’s fitting with the “Vegan In-N-Out” moniker Monty’s has taken on, since this is basically a plant-based version of Animal Fries.
To unlock access to this meat-free feast, you simply have to ask for them when ordering at the register. Do so with confidence, and be prepared to tackle this massive pile of vegan goodness. You may need a small squad to brave this formidable secret menu item.
Impossible Foods just hit the ground running with the latest version of their trademark “bleeding” vegan burger. However, they’ve already got their sights set on what’s to come in the future, including whole cuts of steak made entirely from plants.
In an interview with The Spoon, CEO Dr. Pat Browne stated that his R&D teams were already starting work on these vegan steaks.
“Right now, the most powerful thing we can do is to make products that compete against the incumbent beef industry,” he said. They still need to workout how to get the “texture and anatomy” of steak compared to that of ground beef, but the company is “on the case.”
Plant-based steaks aren’t the only project in the works for Impossible Foods. In an interview with Foodbeast in 2017, Impossible Foods CFO and COO David Lee confirmed that the company also had projects for vegan chicken, fish, and dairy in the works. Dr. Browne touched on that briefly in his interview with The Spoon, saying that his team had already “cracked the code” on the flavor profile for fish.
These appear to be happening more in the future, though, as the Impossible team wants to work on their “most disruptive” products, which are the aforementioned steaks and the Impossible Patty 3.0, which is already in development.
It’s mind-boggling to try and figure out how one can replicate the texture, marbling, and consistency of a whole cut of steak using just plants. But Impossible Foods has already exceeded everyone’s expectations when it comes to beef burgers, so who’s to say they can’t have lightning strike twice?
2019 is officially going to the biggest year yet for Impossible Foods and their groundbreaking, plant-based “bleeding” burger.
They’ve kicked things off with the Impossible Burger 2.0, a novel remake of their already buzzworthy patty that improves on things customers were asking for. The new quarter-pound burger is completely gluten-free and has comparable iron and protein to beef. It’s able to manage all this while having no cholesterol, 9 grams less of fat, and 50 less calories than a standard 80/20 beef patty of the same weight.
Impossible Foods has managed all of this while continuing to retain their signature beef-like taste, using leghemoglobin (a plant-based version of heme) as the key flavoring agent. They’ve managed to get the similarities even closer, as 88% of those who tried it in taste tests said it tasted beefier and meatier, with a 3:1 preference against the old Impossible Burger.
The main goal for Impossible Foods in 2019 is now to become as ubiquitous as possible, and they’ve already taken major steps to make that happen. All of the company’s 5,000-plus locations in the US should have version 2.0 with March. This includes major food distributors that many restaurants already get their main supplies from, opening up Impossible Foods to a whole new field of clients.
For those looking to cook the patty at home, it will begin popping up in select grocery stores later this year. This way, whether we want to try it in a restaurant or make it our way, the faux ground beef replica will be accessible in both forms.
While it’s known as the “Impossible Burger,” the new version is capable of much more than being a patty. It can hold up on a grill for kabobs, and be transformed into meatballs, dumpling fillings, stews, and more. Basically, anywhere you may use ground beef, you now have a more sustainable, plant-based option.
In just a few short years, Impossible Foods’ signature product has gone from a single client to being widespread across the nation. They’ve still got plenty of room to grow, too. A representative of Impossible Foods says that currently, their production plant can produce a million burgers a month, a quarter of the 4 million that they’re aspiring to crank out in that time span. Their omnipresence has arrived, and they’re still not even producing at peak capacity yet.
If that doesn’t speak volumes about the plant-forward, more sustainable future of food we’re heading towards, I don’t know what will.