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Uncanny burgers: the quest to make the ‘meatiest’ vegetarian burger

The Impossible Burger 2.0, the new and improved version of the company's plant-based vegan burger that tastes like real beef is introduced at a press event during CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 7, 2019. - The updated version can be cooked on a grill and has a better flavor and lowered cholesterol, fat and calories than the original.  "Unlike the cow, we get better at making meat every single day," CEO of Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
The Impossible Burger 2.0, the new and improved version of the company's plant-based vegan burger that tastes like real beef is introduced at a press event during CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 7, 2019.

Call it a culinary oxymoron.

Call it a culinary oxymoron.

But a lot of efforts have been put in by chefs, food technologists, restaurants to make the veggie burger more “meat-like.”

The latest example comes courtesy of the company Impossible Foods, which two years ago introduced discerning eaters to its meatless burger -- which uses a molecule called heme to make it taste like meat.

Now, the company’s at it again with the launch of a new vegan burger -- and it tastes so much like the real thing that it gave one reporter (at least) a kind of heebie jeebies after eating it.

We explore the phenomenon of meatless foods that try to taste like meat -- and the ensuing cognitive dissonance that sometimes follows.

Guests:

Matt Simon, science and tech writer who has covered the science of the “bleeding” Impossible Burger for WIRED; tweets

Ricardo San Martin, director of the Alternative Meats Lab at UC Berkeley, which works to develop plant-based meats, dairy substitutes, and alternative sources of fat and protein

Bev Cain, president of Sandelman, a market research and consulting firm focusing on fast food restaurants and casual dining

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