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posted by martyb on Friday June 24 2016, @03:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the Let's-get-Mikey! dept.

Several startups are trying to take plant-based meat alternatives to a new level. They include Impossible Foods, which has created a meatless burger that contains heme, a molecule that contributes color, taste, and texture to meat:

This summer, diners in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles will get their hands on a hamburger that's been five years in the making. The burger looks, tastes and smells just like beef — except it's made entirely from plants. It sizzles on the grill and even browns and oozes fat when it cooks. It's the brainchild of former Stanford biochemist Patrick Brown and his research team at Northern California-based Impossible Foods.

[...] It's not the only faux meat company selling bloody plant patties. Last month, Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat made headlines when it released the Beyond Burger, its pea protein burger that sizzles like real meat and "bleeds" beet juice. The burgers quickly sold out after debuting at a Whole Foods in Boulder, Colo. Beyond Meat's investors include Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Gates is also backing Impossible Foods. So is billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and Google Ventures. All told, the company has raised some $182 million in seed funding. Last year, Impossible Foods turned down Google's offer to buy the company for $200 to $300 million.

The Impossible Burger is more than just peas and carrots smashed together: It's the result of some pretty high-tech research. Brown's team analyzes meat at a molecular level to determine what makes a burger taste, smell and cook the way it does. He wants his burgers to be squishy while raw, then firm up and brown on the grill. He believes everything from an animal's fat tissue to muscle cells can be replicated using plant compounds.

The true test? Making the plant-based substance carcinogenic.

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  • (Score: 2) by CoolHand on Friday June 24 2016, @12:06PM

    by CoolHand (438) on Friday June 24 2016, @12:06PM (#364875) Journal

    I think you're in a minority. Most of the vegetarians I know choose the diet for ethical reasons, and a few for health ones. Very few choose the diet because they find meat disgusting. We have millions of years of omnivorous instincts informing us that meat is an extremely nutritious and efficient food source - aka it's delicious.

    Are you really sure we're omnivores? I think the evidence more leans to the fact that we're herbivores, and we're too damn smart for ourselves. So, we figured out how to eat meat for survival advantage, but our bodies are not designed for it.. Think about it, we don't have natural weapons (claws, large canines, large jaws) to naturally take down prey. We have to outsmart it and use tools to do it, because we're not evolutionary designed to do it. Also, although giving some short term survival advantages, animal products are poison to our system and horrible for us. We're not made to digest and process animal fats. They give us all kinds of problems. So, if we weren't so damn smart, I think it's very likely we'd still be herbivores, or at least 99% herbivore.. []

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Spelli on Friday June 24 2016, @01:07PM

    by Spelli (6123) on Friday June 24 2016, @01:07PM (#364895)

    That carnivore/herbivore comparison chart is a load of bull. You can't pick and choose what suits your theory best.
    Even cows will eat a dead rabbit if it suddenly pops up - the calorie/time ratio is just too good to pass up, even wrongly equipped digestive tract.
    What about our carnassials? What about the gall bladder (predominantly a carnivorous trait)? We also have the proper enzymes to digest meat. Get a man on a diet consisting of almost only meat, and he'll have highly concentrated pee just like a carnivore. (That one i actually tested on myself, when my meat-filled freezer went kaput during summer)
    Humans are extraordinarily flexible diet-wise.

    We did not hunt most of our prey as a lion or most other carnivores do today. We exhausted them by exploiting our energy-efficient bipedal mode of locomotion and their escape behaviour - most animals will sprint away when they feel threatened until the threat is gone. We just followed their trail at a leisurely pace until they sprinted again, etc. repeat until prey is utterly exhausted. Lab experiments with mice show that when exposed to similar stimuli, many will actually die of a heart attack caused by wildly fluctuating adrenaline levels before becoming bodily exhausted.

    Disclaimer: I'm a biologist master student, and sorry for the mediocre english.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Immerman on Friday June 24 2016, @01:22PM

    by Immerman (3985) on Friday June 24 2016, @01:22PM (#364899)

    Look at our cousins - the great apes are pretty much all omnivorous. They don't need claws or fangs for grasping prey - they have hands for that, and primarily hunt prey considerably smaller than them so that hands are more than adequate. We also lack the wide, flat molars that are typical of herbivores, and our jaws used to be considerably larger - they started shrinking about the time we started making stone tools (no longer needed to use our teeth for ripping through hide and other tough foods), and the trend notably accelerated when we harnessed fire (which softened food and increased the calories available to our digestive systems, so we could eat less and more easily)

    That's not to say we're adapted to eat a *lot* of meat, most Americans probably eat more than is healthy, but it's pretty obvious that we've been opportunistic predators since long before we became tool users. And some branches of humanity have spent thousands of years as primarily carnivorous after colonizing ecosystems like grasslands that contained primarily plants our digestive system can't do much with. Not long enough for major evolutionary changes, but smaller adaptations like the ability to digest milk as adults don't necessarily take long.

    Pro-tip - if you want to get a solid idea of what we're evolutionarily designed to eat, you're probably better of talking to biologists than some website that starts with a false dichotomy between carnivores and herbivores and barely makes a tip of the hat to omnivores at the very end.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by TheLink on Friday June 24 2016, @04:21PM

    by TheLink (332) on Friday June 24 2016, @04:21PM (#365003) Journal

    Where's the omnivore section? There's no need for fangs and claws. Chimps eat monkeys, bush babies, etc. Our digestive tract is nothing like herbivores nor do we eat our excrement like rabbits.

    There's lots of scientific evidence that humans do better on a diet that includes fish. Definitely better than being pure vegetarians. There's some scientific research that indicates that pure vegetarianism isn't "normal" or good for humans: []
    Sure seems like it would take many more generations of evolution before those populations get better at being pure vegetarians. Meanwhile I'm sticking to being an omnivore.

    Even many supposed herbivores aren't pure vegetarians. Red deer don't have fangs and claws and yet some eat lots of birds, eating more than some supposed carnivores AND it seems healthier for them to do so: [] []

    But many vegans don't let scientific facts get in the way their "religion".

    By the way humans are not like most other mammals. Humans are one of animals in the world that has an additional digestive organ outside our bodies. The part outside is sometimes called a kitchen. Because of that we can eat an even wider variety of foods while not having to carry around a bigger and more complicated digestive system for most of the day ;).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 26 2016, @07:59AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 26 2016, @07:59AM (#365958)

      Humans are one of animals in the world that has an additional digestive organ outside our bodies. The part outside is sometimes called a kitchen.

      How many humans can survive on a pure vegetarian diet that has uncooked and unprepared food (e.g. no kitchen)? Can they manage spending all day munching leaves in their mouths like gorillas? You can survive on eating nuts but are there enough nuts for you to forage?

      If they require a kitchen to be pure vegetarian then the digestive system comparison is misleading isn't it? I'd accept tools to crack nuts (stones are common), but blending nuts in a blender. And stuff like tempeh is definitely out since it involves soybeans being cooked and prepared.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 25 2016, @12:16PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 25 2016, @12:16PM (#365514)

    We're not carnivores nor herbivores. We're omnivores.

    We can't digest cellulose as well as herbivores. We are not ruminants and we do not have this: []

    As for a fruit only diet, some can do it but many others can't (diabetes or they might even get pancreatic cancer).

    We can survive as vegetarians, and we can survive as carnivores (e.g. Inuit diet - vitamin c from skin and livers: [] ).

    But it is difficult for us to thrive on such diets.