Livestock accounts for up to 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and cattle are responsible for about 65% of this sector’s emissions. With the world’s population projected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, we must change the way we eat and produce food if we are to avoid climate change and food shortages. In addition, reducing meat production would also bring benefits for animal welfare and consumer health.

Impossible Foods, a California-based startup, has taken an interesting approach to address this problem. By studying meat at the molecular level, they identify proteins that might contribute to the distinct flavors and textures of meat. They then figure out how to harvest these ingredients from sustainable plant sources. The Impossible Burger, which made its debut in local restaurants in 2016, contains a key ingredient leghemoglobin which contributes to the taste and texture of meat. Leghemoglobin is an oxygen transporting protein found in soybean roots, similar to hemoglobin found in red blood cells. Using genetically engineered yeast, that contain genetic instructions from the soybean plant, Impossible Foods is able to mass produce leghemoglobin in a sustainable manner.

Last week, Burger King announced that they would be selling a new Whopper that contains zero beef. In blind testing, customers and employees of Burger King could not tell the difference between the original and meatless burger. The meatless Whopper will contain the same amount of protein but 15% less fat and 90% less cholesterol than the original Whopper. Burger King, the second largest hamburger chain in the US, putting a plant-based burger on their menu may indicate that meatless burgers are beginning to go mainstream.

Managing Correspondent: Jeremy Gungabeesoon

News Article: Behold the Beefless ‘Impossible Whopper’. The New York Times

Image Credit: PxHere

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