In a world with ever-growing vegetarian options for tasty burgers, there is one simple fact that cannot be denied: meat is juicy. Veggie burgers are not. Until now.
Currently changing the food world is the Impossible Burger, a plant-based patty that looks, feels and tastes just like the real thing.
It's the result of a five-year, $80 million project by scientists at veggie burger company Impossible Foods. Though the burger was derived in a lab, it's completely natural, containing common restaurant items like textured wheat protein and coconut oil.
The magic meaty ingredient? Heme. It's a protein molecule that gives animal meat its unique taste and tender texture. It's a basic molecule found in many life forms, but it's much more abundant in animals than in plants.
The bleeding burger made its restaurant debut in late July at Momofuku Nishi in New York. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.
"I was genuinely blown away when I tasted the burger," said Momofuku chef David Chang. "The Impossible Foods team has discovered how to re-engineer what makes beef taste like beef."
"It was something I knew I had to get behind."
The enthusiastic response is no surprise. When Impossible Foods competitor Beyond Burger began selling bleeding veggie burgers at a Colorado Whole Foods in early 2016, they sold out within an hour, according to Eater.
The burgers don't just taste like meat -- they're treated like meat, too. Patties are transported to Nishi the same way as ground beef, and they're refrigerated to maintain their quality.
They're even cooked to order, so they can be made in any manner from rare to well done.
"Everyone has their own idea of what a great burger tastes like," said Impossible Foods founder Patrick Brown. "We knew that in order for this to be successful as a replacement for ground beef, we had to deliver all those same properties for consumers, so they could make their choice."
Impossible Foods is selling the burgers for about the price of organic beef, but the company hopes to lower the price eventually to mass market levels, Eater reports.
The bleeding vegan burger is part of a larger effort to diminish the environmental impact created by the meat industry.
For now, it's only available at Nishi, but Impossible Foods has plans to serve the burger in San Francisco -- and eventually grocery stores.