Fake Meat?

These meat substitutes are almost horrifically realistic, but how can a strange concoction of vegan ingredients bleed like real meat?

Whilst living with my aggressively vegetarian sister, I was constantly taunted with the phrase “meat is murder”. When going to a restaurant, I will never hesitate to order a juicy, red and bloody burger. Evidently, I don’t care too much about my actions.

However, since the earth is dying rapidly, and the meat industry is known to cause significant negative environmental impacts, I guess should attempt to take action. “Fake Meat” has recently been on the rise with companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat innovating new and more realistic plant based replications of meat. Singapore has joined the trend with multiple restaurants and groceries fully embracing the trend.

“The Impossible Burger”
Photo Source: Plant Based News

Essentially, meat described as “fake” constitutes a fully vegan food item that is supposed to have the same taste and texture as real meat. The four main components of the Impossible Burger consist of protein, fats, binders, and flavoring. Instead of the natural fat that exist in animals, the patty is made out of both sunflower and coconut oil, the protein comes from soy and potato, and the binding ingredient is methylcellulose (the same chemical compound used to treat constipation :/ ) The “meaty” flavor comes from a lab-generated, iron-containing compound known as heme.

Soy, the primary ingredient in the patty
Source: Medical News Today

The fact that this burger patty bleeds is the key component that supposedly satisfies people’s cravings for meat. Gross, perhaps, but a true criterion for the human carnivore’s fascination with the taste and texture of meat. These substitutes are almost horrifically realistic, but how can a strange concoction of vegan ingredients bleed like real meat?

The bloody burger effect comes from a genetically modified protein found in plant roots. The protein, leghemoglobin, essentially carries oxygen and has a similar chemical structure to hemoglobin, the oxygen carrier in red blood cells, this ingredient gives the patty the slight red tone and the “bloody” feel to it. Although leghemoglobin is one of their key factors to their success; they did face struggles to gain approval from the FDA. Only just this past August did The Impossible Burger have their key ingredient approved. Only now can this latest iteration of “meat” become available not only in restaurants, but also in grocery stores.

After asking people for their comparisons of these “realistic” alternatives it seems that these vegan substitutes may not be good enough. Many people give mixed reviews regarding the burger, but it may all have to do with the way it is prepared and displayed. Some sources say that it is indistinguishable from a real burger, however others say that there are many dead giveaways.

They most significant similarity between the Impossible Burger and an actual beef burger lies on the surface. According to a student who has already indulged in the product, “You can definitely tell that is isn’t actual meat, but looks-wise it replicates meat identically.”

The main issue seems to be the texture, due to the patty being soy based it does seem to be chewier than real beef, and it can also feel drier in the mouth.

Julia Fallows, an SAS senior states “when you eat [the “fake” meat] in a burger you tell the difference, however if it is cooked in things such as bolognese you really can’t tell the difference as the sauce masks the texture which is the main give away.”

If you are curious to see if this “fake” meat can satisfy your burger cravings there are several restaurants in Singapore that serve The Impossible Burger. Some of these locations include:

1 . P.S Cafe ($29.50 SGD)

PS. Cafe (Martin Road)
Photo Source: Trip Advisor

2 . CUT by Wolfgang Puck ($18 SGD)

Image result for cut by wolfgang puck
CUT by Wolfgang Puck (Marina Bay Sands)
Photo Source: Pinky Piggu

3 . Park Bench Deli ($22 SGD)

Image result for park bench deli
Park Bench Deli (Telok Ayer)
Photo Source: Burpple

No, the beloved SAS booster booth hasn’t yet added an impossible “Booster Burger” to its frequent grill events, but you won’t have to stray too far if you want to test the fake meat phenomenon and form your own opinion.

Author: Cassandra Lundsgaard

Cassandra Lundsgaard is currently a senior, and this is her second year as a reporter for The Eye. She was born and raised in China, but is originally half Danish and half Singaporean. In her free time, she typically procrastinates by “accidentally” spending hours on Netflix obsessing over every sit-com, as well as napping during unreasonable hours. She can be contacted at lundsgaard770785@sas.edu.sg

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