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People are always trying to make the perfect burger.  Bigger, tastier, and more sizzle.  But not everyone is trying to make the perfect vegan burger.  And maybe that’s why the newest contender is called “the impossible burger”.

The man behind the impossible burger is Patrick O. Brown, M.D., Ph.D, who turned a year and half sabbatical from Stanford into the Silicone Valley startup, Impossible Foods. Brown and his cohorts have spent the last five years trying to replicate a beef burger in plant form with backing from Google and Bill Gates.  It seems like they may have succeeded.

According to impossiblefoods.com, the vegan burger uses “95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions” than a traditional beef burger.  It has no hormones, antibiotics, or artificial ingredients.

Which is not to say that the list of ingredients will get your mouth watering.  Water, textured wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, natural flavors, 2% or less of: leghemoglobin (heme protein), yeast extract, salt, soy protein isolate, konjac gum, xanthan gum, thiamin (vitamin B1), zinc, niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and vitamin B12 all go into an impossible burger.

But Brown’s team will tell you that the heme is the key, because that is what gives the burger it’s juice.  According to a medical dictionary (not Betty Crocker), heme is the nonprotein, insoluble, iron protoporphyrin constituent of hemoglobin.  It is “a basic building block of life in all organisms, including plants”.  At Impossible Foods, they extract the heme from plants and put it through a fermentation process, just as you would in making beer.

Despite all the research, convincing website pictures, venture capital, and supporting documentation, the impossible burger is only available in four restaurants in the U.S., and then only at certain times of day.  One of my coworkers has a devout vegan son who recently tried it.  He liked it, but he wasn’t blown away.  And that begs the question: who is going to eat the impossible burger?

Vegans can get perfectly good homemade veggie burgers at restaurants all over the country.  They were not born in a laboratory or underwritten by billionaires. And the fact that they don’t look or taste like a beef burger is a selling point, not a detractor.

Maybe the impossible burger is for trendy types who can say, “Look at me!  I’m eating a veggie burger!”  And, when the impossible burger cools off, they’ll move on to fish tacos or bacon-infused brussels sprouts.

I applaud Dr. Brown for his passion and his desire to do something good for the planet.  I hope the impossible burger is a big success and goes nationwide.  I would love to try one.  I just hope it’s not all sizzle and no, um, you know what I mean.

Would you try an Impossible Burger?  Please leave a comment…