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

    by Immerman (3985) Subscriber Badge 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.
     

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