Burger King, home of the Whopper, will now also be home to the “Impossible Whopper,” a plant-based, meatless burger. The fast food chain announced it will be rolling out the new item nationwide by the end of this year. But the roots for this burger were planted over two decades ago, by a local organization.
The burger is made by Impossible Foods, a company that develops plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products. Farm Sanctuary, a Watkins Glen-based nonprofit that was founded in the 1980s with the mission of rescuing animals, works closely with Impossible Foods, and is credited with bringing the BK Veggie to Burger King chains across the country back in 1992.
“In the early 90s, the farm sanctuary approached businesses in Watkins Glen, including the local Burger King and asked them to have plant-based options,” said Gene Baur, President and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary. “Burger King was thankfully very receptive and they started selling the spicy bean burger in like ‘92, that they imported from the U.K. But they sold it very quickly, and they had to find a domestic product, so they did, and they tested it around Upstate New York. Then they did the B.K. Veggie in the mid-90s.”
Although the Impossible Burger is vegan, it’s intended to appeal to a wider audience, which is why there was a strong focus on ensuring the burger still looks and tastes like meat.
“They come up with some amazing formulas to make it sizzle and to make it look like a burger,” Baur said.
For those who may be skeptical, Baur offers another incentive; he argues that plant-based foods are not only healthier, but also more sustainable, efficient, and humane.
“Eating plants is a statement for compassion, it’s a statement for health and well-being, it’s a statement for environmental sustainability,” Baur said.
According to Baur, plant-based foods gobble up far fewer resources than animal-based products, are produced without animal cruelty or suffering, and contain nearly no cholesterol.
“It’s been estimated that we could save 70% on healthcare costs in this country by shifting to a whole-foods plant-based diet,” Baur said.
The 18 News staff did a blind taste test to see if we could tell the difference between the Impossible Burger and a Burger King Whopper. Watch the video above to find out!