Burger King's Impossible Whopper May Disappoint Vegetarians

Burger King is rolling out its meatless Impossible Whopper sandwich at locations nationwide today, August 8.

But vegetarians and vegans may find the news hard to digest. On its website, Burger King says that the Impossible Whopper, which is zero percent beef, is "flame-grilled in the same broiler used for beef and chicken."

People who avoid eating meat due to health or religious issues could stay away from Burger King's restaurants due to the company's method of preparation. Many vegetarians and vegans avoid eating food that might be exposed to meat or non-vegan products.

The Impossible Whopper features a savory flame-grilled patty made from plants topped with tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles, and sliced white onions on a soft sesame seed bun. The plant-based patty mostly contains soy protein, potato protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and heme. In April, Burger King had partnered with Impossible Foods to test a new, plant-based version of its Whopper Sandwich that used Impossible Burger for its patties. The company later decided to expand the meatless burgers after receiving encouraging feedback from customers.

Redwood City, California-based Impossible Foods makes nutritious meat and dairy products from plants - with a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals. Impossible Foods said it has developed the plant-based burger, which can fool a meat lover, to satisfy the global demand for meat at a fraction of the environmental impact.

The company's scientists genetically engineer and ferment yeast to produce a heme protein naturally found in plants, called soy leghemoglobin. The heme in the Impossible Burger is identical to the essential heme humans have been consuming for hundreds of thousands of years in meat.