Don’t call it a vegan burger. The trendy buzz phrase is plant-based.
And the plant-based Impossible Burger is getting so popular that some metro Detroit restaurants are running out of the meatless patties that look like and, some fans say, taste every bit as good as a hamburger made from ground beef.
“I sell as many Impossible Burgers as I do beef burgers,” said Justin Pries, general manager at Ale Mary’s in downtown Royal Oak.
Ale Mary’s offers four different flavor options for the Impossible Burger from a Southwest version to a traditional served with lettuce, tomato and vegan cheese and vegan mayo. They also have the Beyond Burger, made by Beyond Meat, a competitor of Impossible Burger.
Pries has heard of shortages Impossible Burgers at other restaurants but so far Ale Mary’s hasn’t had any problem keeping them in stock.
The same is true down the street at the Bar Louie, where manager Ben Kowalczyk said he heard there may be a shortage, but right now they are not having trouble getting them.
Still area restaurants say they can’t get Impossible Burgers.
Gordon Food Service, which supplies many area restaurants, is on an allocation basis with the Impossible Burger, according to manager of corporate communications, Mark Schurman,
“We have greater demand than supply,” he said. “We are looking forward to seeing them (Impossible Foods) ramp up their production.”
In the meantime, Schurman said, Gordon Food is providing customers with other plant-based and vegetarian options.
Rosie O’Grady’s in Ferndale has been out of the Impossible burger for a few weeks now, according to server Jeffrey Bracker. On the menu, they’ve replaced it with the similar plant-based Beyond Burger, until they can get more Impossible Burgers in.
Public House in Ferndale ran out of the Impossible Burger on Tuesday and is also substituting with the Beyond Meat burger.
Tim Beckley, taproom manager at Griffin Claw Brewery in Birmingham says they’ve been out of Impossible Burgers for about a month.
Impossible Foods, which makes the burgers, says it is seeing tremendous growth in the U.S. and Asia. In response, the company plans to double production with a second production line this summer at its Oakland, California, plant.
Part of the appeal and the strong demand of these plant-based burgers is how much they mimic a conventional beef. Some even ooze red like a rare burger.
Impossible Burger uses an ingredient called “soy leghemoglobin,” which contains “heme,” to get the red color as well as give the product its beefy taste. Beyond Meat uses beet juice. And Don Lee Farm plant-based burgers, sold frozen at more than 100 area Kroger stores, uses beet powder.
The voracious appetite for plant-based products such as these can be pinned to consumers looking to eating healthier and reducing their environmental footprint. These products are touted as being better for the environment, using less, water, land and energy as well as generating fewer greenhouse gases.
Last week, Beyond Meat came out with an initial public offering (IPO) with a stock target price of $25 a share. It was trading at $72.25 at market close on Wednesday.
The Impossible Burger is now served, Impossible Foods says, in more than 7,000 restaurants. You’ll find it on the menus at White Castle, Qdoba and Red Robin restaurants. Burger King recently test marketed the Impossible Whopper in the St. Louis area. The fast-food giant has since announced that the Impossible Whopper will be a menu item available at all locations by the end of the year.
The Impossible Burger made its Midwest debut nearly 2 years ago at Michael Symon’s now closed B Spot Burger in Royal Oak. For vegans, vegetarians and those who are simply eschewing beef, the Impossible Burger is a tasty alternative.
In January the company introduced their current generation Impossible Burger 2.0. This version is gluten-free, has 0 milligrams of cholesterol, and, the company says, has as much iron and protein as beef from cows.
Because the Impossible Burger is in high demand, the company suggests consumers call restaurants ahead to see if they have them.
Here what you need to know about the Impossible Burger and a few places to find it.
What is the Impossible Burger?
- It’s a plant-based product that looks like ground beef and shaped into patties just like a burger. It was developed and is made by Impossible Foods, based in Redwood City, California. The company says the burger is made without hormones, antibiotics or artificial flavors and uses 75% less water and 87% fewer greenhouse gases to produce.
What is it made from?
- Soy and potato proteins are the main ingredients along with coconut and sunflower oils and soy leghemoglobin. The latter contains “heme,” which give the product its red color. Other ingredients include binders, salt some vitamins. While the burger is plant-based, it’s not organic. The Beyond Meat burger base is made from pea protein and it gets the oozing red color thanks to beet juice.
Do you cook it the same way as a conventional beef burger?
- Yes. You can cook on a grill or griddle and it cooks up just like a beef burger. At Ale Mary’s manager Justin Pries said they cook it on separate grill away from the beef burger. “It has its own area, own griddle, own fryer for the fries, so there is no cross-contamination,” Pries said.
How does it taste?
- We’ve tried it and find it mimics a conventional beef burger. The burger flavor profile and beefiness stems from an ingredient called heme. This ingredient is a molecule found in plants and animals. It’s heme that gives the burger its meaty aroma, sizzle, color and taste. Once cooked the burger will even have that juicy redness like a rare or medium-rare burger would.
Is the Impossible Burger sold at grocery stores?
- No. Neither the burger patty nor the grind itself is available at stores, yet. But Impossible Food said plans are in the works to have it on the retail level later this year. Beyond Meat, according to its website locator map, sells products at metro area Kroger stores, Hollywood Market and Whole Foods Markets.
How does it stack up nutrition-wise?
The nutrition label for a 4 ounce Impossible Burger lists 240 calories, 14 grams of fat including 8 grams being saturated fat. There are no trans-fats and 0 milligrams of cholesterol. It has 19 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and 370 milligrams of sodium. In comparison, 4 ounces of 80/20 ground conventional beef has 287 calories, 23 grams of fat, nearly 9 grams of saturated fat and 1.3 grams of trans fat. There are 80 milligrams of cholesterol but far less sodium at 75 milligrams. There are no carbohydrates or fiber, but the beef as 19 grams of protein as well.
Contact food writer Susan Selasky at 313-222-6872 or [email protected] Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.
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