Summer means barbecues, barbecues mean burgers, and burgers mean the London air will soon be filled with that familiar scent of charred meat, permeating parks across the city as sure as the sight of pasty lads whipping off their Jack Wills t-shirts. Something about the sun brings out the inner carnivore in many of us and burgers, in particular, smack the parietal lobe with a prehistoric sense of pleasure.
Yet, as an increasing number of people in the UK go vegan (read our guide to the best vegetarian restaurants in London, here) with every passing year, I can't help but feel a slight pang of guilt every time I eat a Maillard-crusted bit of flesh.
Questions surrounding the environmental impact of meat has made me more conscious about my own animal consumption and even led me to forgo it entirely last weekend in favour of a planet-friendly burger that claimed to "bleed" just like a regular ground beef patty. Ever heard of the Impossible Burger, or Beyond Meat burger? The latter plant-based patties come from a California-based company. Biting into their meat-less puck was both entirely familiar and entirely… not – an uncanny experience like only half-recognising your reflection in the mirror.
Everything you need to know about Beyond Meat and Impossible burgers
It goes without saying that I'm not the only one who's found themselves intrigued. The Impossible Burger has a search volume of 6,6000 on Google (the average volume is around 1,000) and 65,156 posts on the Instagram hashtag. On the other hand, Beyond Meat had the most successful IPO of the year, proving that the men in suits have also realised faux meat means real business. Beyond Meat has a grasp of the UK market thanks to its presence in supermarkets like Tesco; however, Impossible Foods, who produce the Impossible Burger, were able to raise more than $300m during its most recent round of funding. Impossible Foods' Impossible Burgers are even more beef-like thanks to the addition of heme: a molecule that makes meat taste like, well, meat.
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While the Impossible Burger has yet to hit our shores (rumour has it, it'll be available to try come the end of 2019), London-based Halo Burger and Honest Burgers both boast burgers that use Beyond Meat patties, the exact kind I tackled. Made up primarily of pea protein and coconut oil, these burgers are given an injection of beet juice to make them "bleed".
Personally, I'd rather chow down a falafel than this supposed 'future of protein' – but, hey, as long as it's not hurting anyone, I don't see the harm in a few more meat-less burgers knocking about. And if it converts a few staunch carnivores along the way? Then more power to them. Because not only do Beyond Meat burgers refrain from harming any animals, they claim to use 99% less water, 93% less land and 46% less energy than actual meat.
Plus, I can almost guarantee Donald Trump wouldn't be caught dead eating a plant-based burger. And if that doesn't make you want to eat one, then I don't know what will.
Enjoyed reading all about the future of the Beyond Meat and Impossible burgers? Read up on the best burgers in London.