Food & Drink

Bleeding veggie burgers hit restaurants for first time

By Kitty Knowles 27 July 2016
A bleeding burger by Impossible Foods. Pic: Impossible Foods.

Why do people want vegetarian patties that bleed?

Veggie substitutes aren’t new.

As early as 1967, Gregory Sams opened Seed Restaurant: loved by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, this would later dish up the first ever ‘VegeBurger’.

Now, whether you choose to chow down on quorn Bolognese, tofu curry, or simply like to swap your ham for halloumi, there are many ways to cut down on meat.

Back in 2011 however, one company set out on a unique mission: a mission to make veggie burgers bleed.

And today – for the first time – hungry customers can try them out at a trendy new New York restaurant.

A Nishi non-meat burger. Pic: Nishi.
A Nishi non-meat burger. Pic: Nishi.

Impossible Foods

Impossible Foods founder Patrick Brown raised more than $150m to develop the plant-based burgers debuting today at Nishi, New York.

A collaboration between Brown and Momofuku founder and chef David Chang, this is the first time that you can order a bleeding veggie burger in a restaurant.

“I was genuinely blown away,” said chef Chang.

“The Impossible Foods team has discovered how to re-engineer what makes beef taste like beef … first and foremost, we think this makes a delicious burger.”

Chef David Chang. Pic: CC/Vimeo.
Chef David Chang. Pic: CC/Vimeo.

By why do people want veggie burgers that bleed?

You might wonder why a bloodless burger needs to bleed.

Well, unlike many veggie food companies, the Bill Gates-backed Impossible Foods want to appeal to meat-eaters as well as vegans and vegetarians.

To do this scientists spent $80m on finding ways to make their burger as convincingly meat-like as possible – including finding ways to make it bleed.

An Impossible Foods burger. Pic: Impossible Foods.
An Impossible Foods burger. Pic: Impossible Foods.

While competitors have used beetroot to create blood-like juice in the past, the creators at Impossible Foods have used heme – a molecule found in both animal blood and some plants.

This means you can order you Nishi burger thin or thick, and well-done, medium rare, or rare.

“Everyone has their own idea of what a great burger tastes like,” said Brown.

“We knew that in order for this to be successful as a replacement for ground beef, we had to deliver all those same properties for consumers, so they could make their choice.”

Patrick Brown, founder Impossible Foods. Pic: CC/CNBC
Patrick Brown, founder Impossible Foods. Pic: CC/CNBC

Would you buy it?

The main driving force behind Impossible Foods is to reduce the negative impact that animal farming has on the environment.

Take this idea alongside our increasing awareness of animal welfare and health, and it’s easy to see why meatless burgers are having a moment.

The American Heart Association, for example, recommends consuming fish, poultry, and beans in lieu of red meat, while the World Health Organization released a study last year linking processed meats and red meat to cancer.

What’s more, in the future, there will be more than meat-free burgers on offer.

Impossible Foods has visions of vegetarian pork, chicken and fish in the pipeline, as well as dairy-free cheese, yoghurt, milk and cream.

Will the bleeding veggie burger be the food of the future? We think Impossible Foods have got a bloody good shot.

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