The Impossible Whopper features Impossible Foods’ plant-based patty on a build that mirror’s the chain’s standard beef-based option, with tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise, pickles, and sliced white onions on sesame seed bun. Mayo can be removed to make the option plant-based. A trial, in 59 outlets around Missouri, was launch on April 1. Earlier this week, it was announced that the sandwich will be rolled out – with plans for it to eventually reach all BK stores nationwide.
Bruce Friedrich, Good Food Institute Executive Director, told Plant Based News that the success of the sandwich is a ‘clear sign’ that meat made from plants is now mainstream.
According to José Cil, CEO of Burger King’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, the reaction to the Impossible Whopper so far has ‘exceeded the company’s expectations’.
But in what may be disappointing news to some vegans, it does not appear to be meat eaters who are opting for the plant-based patty at the moment.
“We aren’t seeing guests swap the original Whopper for the Impossible Whopper – it’s attracting new guests,” said Cil, who added that even staff struggle to tell the difference between the two burgers.
‘Plant meat is mainstream’
“This is a major milestone and a huge leap forward for the plant-based meat industry. It’s a clear sign that meat made from plants is now mainstream,” Good Food Institute Executive Director, Bruce Friedrich, told Plant Based News.
“This is just the beginning. Burger King has thrown down the gauntlet and we expect to see similar moves from other industry players. Burgers are just the start and we’re likely to see plant-based chicken, fish and pork rolled out on menus and becoming increasingly popular.
“These chains clearly recognize the huge business opportunity here. Industrial animal farming is extraordinarily inefficient and as economies of scale kick in and supply ramps up, the price of plant-based alternatives will plummet to well below that of their animal-based competitors.
“Once this happens, the fact that even Burger King’s taste testers can’t tell a difference will dictate that the Impossible Whopper and other plant-based meats will become the norm. This change can’t come soon enough.”
Impossible Foods controversy
While many in the food industry are encouraged by the Impossible Whopper’s success, it’s important to note that many vegans – and Impossible Foods itself consider the patty to be plant-based rather than vegan.
This is because in 2017, it was revealed that a key ingredient – soy leghemoglobin aka ‘heme’ – from the brand’s flagship item the Impossible Burger was fed to rats in order to test its safety. In excess of 180 rats were killed as a result of the testing.
CEO Pat Brown reacted to the controversy, publishing a statement titled The Agonizing Dilemma of Animal Testing.
Brown, who has been vegan for more than 15 years, said the core of his company’s mission is to ‘eliminate exploitation of animals in the food system’, as well as reduce the impact of animal agriculture on the environment.
“Among the thousands of animal species surveyed every decade by the World Wildlife Fund, the total number of living individual wild animals today is less than half what it was 40 years ago,” he added.
“This wildlife loss is overwhelmingly due to the exploitation of animals for food, including hunting, fishing and especially the replacement of wildlife habitat by animal farming.”