EcoWatch: Those Impossible Burgers are neither healthier nor more eco-friendly

The meat-free “burgers” that are sweeping the nation are not managing to ruin our entire culture quite yet, and they’re running into opposition from some unexpected quarters. The main claim to fame that Impossible Foods has been foisting off on the public is that the genetically engineered soy root enzyme products (makes you drool just saying it) are better for humans than eating red meat and friendlier to the environment because cows fart a lot or something. But some pushback is coming from a source that you might think would be right in their corner. EcoWatch is an environmentalist news outlet that describes itself as, “leading the charge in using online news in the U.S. to drive fundamental change to ensure the health and longevity of our planet.”

A brief glance at the headlines on their front page will give you a solid sense of which side of the aisle they live on. And yet, even this group has issues with the Impossible Burger and related meat substitutes. In fact, they find them to be neither environmentally benign nor more healthy (at least potentially) than red meat. Read on.

In January, Impossible Foods launched the Impossible Burger 2.0. The company has stated that the new burger is “tastier, juicier and more nutritious” — featuring 40 percent less saturated fat than the old recipe, and just as much protein as 80/20 ground beef from cows. The new product is also gluten-free, replacing wheat with soy protein. Unfortunately, the Impossible Burger might just be too good to be true. At Center for Food Safety, we believe that replacing conventional animal products with ultra-processed, poorly studied, and under-regulated genetically engineered products is not the solution to our factory farm and climate crisis. Here’s the science to back this up.

The Impossible Burger is manufactured from two different methods of genetically engineering soy products. This “impossible in nature” union is neither healthier nor more environmentally friendly than other kinds of non-meat burgers. While Impossible Foods, the company behind the Impossible Burger, has been trying to spin its product as both healthier and more sustainable than those of its competitors, a quick examination of the company’s own data suggests otherwise.

There’s a lot of science to plow through at the link, but the major points seem to break down easily enough for the layman. First of all, the manufacturers are using genetically modified soy protein that’s processed using alcohol as a solvent. This results in a product with far less of the beneficial proteins found in organic soybeans. (Not to mention the whole Frankenstein Monster situation with deriving the “heme” which supposedly gives the burgers their natural, meaty taste.)

Also, we don’t even know if the burgers are completely safe to eat, to say nothing of being healthy. The FDA didn’t do full testing and approval of this new product, instead rating it as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS). That means the company did its own testing for food safety and the FDA accepted the results.

The group also finds that many of these genetically modified products are highly under-regulated, so the overall impact on the environment from these processes can’t be verified. It’s not that they’re saying you should go back to eating cows (as God intended), but that these companies haven’t provided nearly enough information to back up the claims they are making in terms of both health benefits and environmental impact.

If the Impossible Burger can’t even sell these folks on its benefits, how much do you trust it? For all we know, you could start eating them for a few years only to later learn that you’re suddenly growing horns out of your head. (Hey… it can happen.) These same activists already tricked some of you into eating kale, and that’s not even a damn food product. It’s biological house insulation. Don’t fall for this, people. It’s a trick designed to get rid of all the cows. All the tasty, tasty cows.