Vegan startup Impossible Foods is finally launching its first large-scale production facility to help bring its plant-based "bloody" burgers to the masses. To make that happen, the firm is opening a factory the size of a city block.
After attracting investment from the likes of Bill Gates and Google, amongst others, the startup has managed to create burgers so realistic that even hardcore meat-loving chefs cannot tell them apart from regular animal-based burgers. And some chefs have even said they've managed to improve on the taste of meat. And it's cruelty-free, more sustainable and better for the environment. With Impossible Foods, you're looking at the future of 'meat'.
Impossible Foods was founded on the idea that there's a better way to satisfy people who enjoy meat. The world's population is estimated to reach nine billion people by 2050, and there aren't anywhere near enough resources on the planet to support sustainable animal agriculture at that scale. As it stands, animal agriculture takes up about a third of the world's land, and is responsible for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions - more than the entire transport sector.
Founder Pat Brown is a molecular biologist who left his teaching job at Stanford University in 2009 on a mission to make a veggie burger that meat-lovers will actually want to eat. The Impossible Burger is made of wheat and potato protein, coconut oil, some additives, and a not-so-secret ingredient called heme — a molecule that carries oxygen through the bloodstream in animals and is also found in the roots of some plants. This component is key to making the burger smell and even 'bleed' like real meat.
"The way we're producing meat now is incredibly destructive. Our mission is to reduce the environmental impact of the food system."
— Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown
They've slowly rolled the burger out to eight (mostly gourmet) restaurants while they've been working on increasing production. People have travelled far and wide get a taste of the game-changing burger, and the reviews are highly positive.
"You can think of this as the birthplace of a whole new industry that's going to transform the food system," said Brown during a press event at the new facility, which is located in an industrial neighborhood of Oakland, California, and should hit peak production this year.
The new Oakland factory will increase Impossible Foods' production capacity by 250 times, allowing the company to expand and supply burgers to thousands more restaurants in the future and introduce its flagship retail product within the next few years.
Rather than marketing to vegans and vegetarians, Impossible Foods are trying to tempt foodies and meat eaters. The idea is that not only can their products be healthier, with no antibiotics or hormones, but that they're also less resource intensive and more environmentally friendly. For example, Impossible Foods says producing one of its burgers requires only a quarter of the water and 5 percent of the land that making a conventional burger calls for, and that the process emits only 13 percent of the greenhouse gases.
Brown says: "You don't need animals to make uncompromisingly delicious meat.".
This is all part of the Plant-Based Revolution that last year Google predicated would happen soon. Tyson Foods CEO recently admitted the future is going to be meatless. Meanwhile a forward-thinking dairy company in New York ditched milk and started producing plant-based milks instead, and a London cafe also ditched dairy after watching a YouTube video to go completely vegan.
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