Don’t let the brand name fool you: Impossible Foods has made plant-based sausage a very real possibility for restaurants, starting out at Burger King stores in five states later this month.
Impossible Pork debuted this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Like Impossible Foods’ meat-free beef, the plant-based sausage is made with soy protein and is crafted to look, taste and cook like the real thing. Select Burger King restaurants in Georgia, Michigan, Illinois, New Mexico and Alabama will test out Impossible Foods’ plant-based sausage on the Impossible Croissan’wich for a limited time.
Although not the first plant-based sausage on the market, Impossible Pork arrives just as the Asian pork industry has been struggling with a devastating outbreak of African swine fever.
As CNet reports, Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown said in a CES press conference on Monday that traditional meat production—raising and feeding huge herds of cattle and beef—is “a ridiculous technology for food” that’s bad for the environment. Growing meat contributes to “the two biggest threats humanity has ever faced, which is catastrophic climate change and a catastrophic meltdown in biodiversity,” Brown added. “This is the absolute most important task in the world.”
According to CNet, Impossible Pork’s plant-based sausage “looks strikingly similar to real pork, with its light pink hue when raw and tender [and] juicy texture after cooking.”
“It’s not unlike our beef product,” Brown told CNet in a Jan. 6 video. “The major protein is soy, the protein quality of which is essentially identical to the protein quality of beef or pork … Fat sources are sunflower oil and coconut oil.”
Another key ingredient: Heme, which is “an essential part of the flavor chemistry of pork and even chicken and even fish, actually,” Brown said. “Heme is kind of the flavor catalyst for meat in general.”
Impossible Foods isn’t the first manufacturer to deliver a plant-based sausage or pork product. Beyond Meat already offers Beyond Sausage, and Sweet Earth Foods markets bacon primarily made from wheat, buckwheat and a variety of spices. Meanwhile, Tyson has developed the Raised & Rooted line of plant-based chicken, including nuggets made out of pea protein, bamboo fiber and egg whites. And companies like Good Catch and Garedin sell plant-based seafood, including tuna, crab cakes and fish fillets.
Plant-based sausage already appears on major chain pizzas around the country. Pieology Pizzeria debuted its own custom-made vegan meat toppings, including the Spicy Italian Sausage Rounds last February, as well as plant-based Beef Meatballs and Diced Chicken. And a plant-based sausage from MorningStar Farms features prominently on the Garden Speciality Pizza offered at a Pizza Hut location in Phoenix, Arizona, last fall.