My wife bought some Impossible Whoppers from Burger King today for us to try out. For those who don’t know, the Impossible Whopper is basically a meatless Whopper. It uses a plant-based burger patty instead of a beef patty. A company called Impossible Foods supplies this plant-based burger to Burger King. The ingredients and nutrition facts can be found on the company’s website.
Here is my review and thoughts on the Impossible Whopper:
Looks and Tastes Like Meat, Pretty Much
I’m impressed with the Impossible Burger. From a visual and taste perspective, it looks and tastes pretty much like meat. If someone gave me this burger without telling me that it wasn’t made with real meat, I wouldn’t be able to tell. Especially if I was also engaged in an interesting conversation while eating it.
Two things that give the Impossible Burger away
Although the Impossible Burger looks and tastes like meat, there are two ways to tell that you aren’t eating real meat, and it doesn’t involve taking the patty out of the bun. (In fact, I only took a single peek at the patty before eating it.)
The first clue is smell. There is a subtle yet distinct scent that gives the Impossible Burger away that it’s not real meat. And I’ve noticed this with all vegan/vegetarian “meats” that I have sampled in the past. If you have ever eaten a SubWay Veggie Patty before, then you know the scent I’m talking about. You will recognize the same aroma on the Impossible Whopper immediately. Just for the record, it’s not an unpleasant smell; it’s just clearly not a meat smell.
The second clue is sensation. When you eat a traditional meat Whopper, there is a sensation that you feel that is missing from its plant-based counterpart.
When you eat a traditional Whopper, you feel more satiated as you’re eating, but also a little lethargic afterwards, as if your body is putting a lot of its energy into digestion.
But when you eat an Impossible Whopper, there’s a feeling of “lightness” that you feel after the meal.
Some people might say, “That’s your arteries not getting clogged,” or something along those lines, but I am not a doctor so I wouldn’t know. But the feeling is noticeable.
I’d eat it again, but I still wouldn’t choose it over a traditional meat Whopper. 2 reasons why:
Overall, I enjoyed the Impossible Whopper. I would eat it again. However, my beef with these plant-based burgers is less about taste and more about price.
If I had to pick between an Impossible Whopper and a traditional Whopper, I’d pick the traditional Whopper. Here’s why:
If I’m in the mood for a burger, then I’m probably going to want real meat. And second, a real burger is cheaper anyway–at least at Burger King. So why would I choose the plant-based Whopper unless I’m being absolutely conscious about my health, or some other environmental/moral factor?
Some might argue that the initial cost of eating the beef Whopper doesn’t include the cost of my long term health, which means that in the long term, a plant-based burger is actually cheaper. This is a decent argument but a little overdramatic if we’re talking about just one Whopper.
Thoughts On Beef vs Plant-Based Burger Prices
In the long run, there’s no justification for a plant-based burger to cost more than an animal-based burger.
I understand that Burger King prices the plant-based Whopper more expensively than its traditional Whopper so that it doesn’t cannibalize its own sales. And I get that vegan meat is still sort of niche (although gaining traction rapidly), so it has to be priced at a premium.
But eventually, some competitor or market force will find a way to drive the price down. In the long run, in order for vegan meat to become more compelling than animal meat on a mass market basis, it would have to be priced more competitively. Competitive pricing would win over on-the-fence meat eaters; the type of meat-eaters who are concerned about the health risks of eating red meat yet still enjoy it and have trouble reducing or eliminating it from their diet.
I did read that Impossible Burger (the company) is having supply issues, so that might also play a factor in the higher prices relative to meat. However, those supply issues have caused Impossible Burger to concede some market share to Beyond Meat who has more robust manufacturing capabilities in place. (No, I didn’t buy the IPO.)