The moment I walked past a stack of Impossible burger the packages at Costco were the moment I realized I had avoided fake meat for too long.
Here’s the plant-based meat, now popular enough to be in a refrigerated bin at the local big box store for $ 8.50 a pound. I put it in my basket without any wait and hurried through the rest of my purchases. It was time to remove my blind spot.
I hadn’t avoided it on purpose; I walked long stretches of life when I was primarily a vegetarian. At home with my wife, Elisabeth, we eat meat at some meals but try to fit it into a bigger dinner. You could call us flexitarian-adjacent. I’m going to have a steak as a special treat, but Elisabeth gave up beef for environmental reasons a few years ago.
She has good reason to do so. If anyone needs a booster, the beef is bad for the world. You can either plant a seed in the ground and grow food and eat it, or you can grow food and give it to a cow, every day for about two years, the animal. methane farting and burping until you chop and eat it. Multiply that by the beef cravings billions of people and the math gets really bad, really fast.
“Beef is the worst for sustainability,” says Kristi Straus, professor of environmental studies at the University of Washington. “A single burger or a steak has a significant environmental impact.”
A pound of beef, she explains, takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce, not to mention the soil and pesticides involved in its production, or the methane that ruminants like cows, goats and lamb produce. .
“The studies on brands like Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat are not fully completed, but they are apples and oranges. Chicken and even pork have much lower impacts, but a vegetarian option will be best for carbon, land use, and water, ”Straus says.“ You don’t have to stop completely, but if you’re worried about the weather, just cut the beef. “
Not to be confused with laboratory meat, Impossible Burger, made by Impossible Foods, is one of many vegetarian but meat-like products (Beyond meat is another brand) launched in recent years, and it has seen a spike in popularity during the pandemic. Impossible Burger’s primary ingredients are water, soy protein concentrate, coconut oil and, of course, natural flavors. A compound known as heme gives it a meaty flavor. It’s not like a bean burger where you are mentally prepared in advance that what you eat will be different. These ingredients produce a surprisingly similar flavor and texture to ground beef.
Change won’t happen if it doesn’t taste good. I wanted to know if imitation meat tastes good and works well in the kitchen. Had I held on for a good reason, or could I help push a few fence guards to the more eco-friendly side?
With that in mind, I made a few dishes to see what it was like to cook and how it tastes. And since it comes in minced meat-type pouches, I concluded with the big test: the burgers.
Testing started with beef and bean chili from Melissa Clark’s cookbook Dine in an instant. With a trusted author and classic chili, I saved the chance of a minimal flop. While the beans were cooking in the pressure cooker, the Impossible Burger turned brown on the stove. It jumped really well, although it did a little better in my nonstick skillet than in my casserole dish, where it stuck to the bottom more than I expected. Again! More or less it turned brown like beef. It also worked very well in the pressure cooker.
We sat down for dinner and I asked Elisabeth how she liked it. She responded enthusiastically “It’s good!” It occurred to me that she did not say it’s good for vegetarian chili, she said it’s good for chili. My thought on my first bite was to hit the hot sauce and the salt pans; the chili was tasty enough that my mind went straight from the greatest evaluation to the focus. We were off to a good start.