Whopper gets glowing review – from a meat lobbyist

A glowing review of Burger King’s new plant-based Whopper comes from an unlikely source: a senior meat industry lobbyist who admitted the surprisingly realistic taste of modern fake meats is a “wake-up call” to livestock farmers.

In a review of the Impossible Whopper, which is being trialled in 59 restaurants in the St Louis area, Eric Bohl, director of public affairs at the Missouri Farm Bureau, wrote: “If farmers and ranchers think we can mock and dismiss these products as a passing fad, we’re kidding ourselves.

“This is not just another disgusting tofu burger that only a dedicated hippie could convince himself to eat.”

Bohl went to a Burger King to compare a traditional Whopper with the vegetarian alternative made by Impossible Foods, a California company that makes plant-based substitutes. Its burger is designed to “bleed” like a conventional burger and uses genetically modified yeast to produce heme, a protein that mimics the flavor of meat.

Admitting the differences in taste between the two burgers was “pretty minor”, Bohl said the advance of fake meats provides a looming and existential threat to the industry he represents.

“If I didn’t know what I was eating, I would have no idea it was not beef,” he wrote. “Farmers and ranchers need to take notice and get ready to compete. I’ve tasted it with my own mouth, and this fake meat is ready for prime time.”

In a follow-up post, Bohl called the new wave of cowless burgers “a wake-up call”. “This is an intense challenge to our industry and we must continue to fight,” he added.

In August, Missouri became the first state to ban products made from tofu, soy or other alternatives branding themselves as “meat”, following an outcry from livestock and poultry producers. The move was seen as part of the growing politicization of meat, as some conservatives claim that efforts to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture could lead to the banning of hamburgers.

Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, both backed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates, are at the forefront of a push into meaty territory which aims to mimic the appearance and taste of flesh rather than making the sort of health-based vegetarian fare typically scorned by committed carnivores.

In its mission statement, Impossible Foods says: “We’re making meat using plants, so that we never have to use animals again,” citing the environmental toll of meat production, via excessive land and water use, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your impact upon the planet, Oxford University research found last year, due to the habitat cleared for livestock and the resulting planet-warming emissions.

Source: TheGuardian.com