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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 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.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

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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 @mrMattSimon

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