Like many other plant-based eaters, I was thrilled when I learned that Burger King would be introducing a plant-based burger into every location across the nation earlier this year. I already have a hard enough time finding options at sit-down restaurants, so having a fast food choice was actually the next step up. I’m happy to have another cheap vegan junk food option I can enjoy while out on the road.
That being said, the launch has not come without a fair share of controversy, including criticism from my own perspective. There are two major problems I have with the Impossible Whopper (despite everything I love about having a plant-based option): animal testing and cross-contamination.
I’d also like to preface by saying these are my personal opinions about the subject matter, and I understand other people have equally valid points about the same facts. To each their own, that’s all I have to say.
First of all, let’s talk about the animal testing conducted by Impossible Foods for this product. The component of the Impossible Burger that gives it the iconic “meaty” taste is actually a molecule called heme, which is found in iron. Through genetic engineering, Impossible Foods was able to mass-produce heme- enough to make millions of burgers. Despite the fact that heme was approved by the FDA in 2017 (and the company thus was not required to test on animals), they did anyway. More than 180 rats were killed in the process of developing a plant-based burger, projected by a company that’s allegedly all about protecting animals. The soy leghemoglobin was fed to the rats “in massive doses” in three different tests, and subsequently, the rats were killed and cut apart to see how the compound reacted in their system. This is not secretive news- Impossible Foods is pretty open about the fact that they carried out these tests.
188 rats may not seem like much to you, but for someone who is an avid animal lover like myself, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. The first pets I’d like to have my first apartment are domesticated fancy rats. I can’t even write these statistics without feeling sick to my stomach-no matter how small or insignificant an animal may seem, it’s still an animal. It’s still an empathetic creature.
Secondly, the Impossible Whopper is not as safe for vegans and vegetarians as you may think. Unless specifically requested otherwise by the consumer, the Impossible Whopper patty is cooked on the same dirty stove as the beef patties. This is not only frustrating for plant-based eaters trying to avoid cross-contamination, but also for people with beef allergies who are relying on this burger to be a safe option. It would be one thing if the company clearly stated in their advertisements that you MUST ask for your burger to be microwaved in order to avoid contamination, but I cannot find a single statement on any ad. Many people, such as myself, went in eating this product believing it was a “safe” option, when the reality is I could have gotten very sick.
It’s very similar to the animal testing sentiment. It might not be a big deal to you, but for someone who is strongly affected by this careless action, it hits a lot harder. Maybe you aren’t bothered by the cross-contamination, but what about someone with a legitimate beef allergy who was wrongly led to believe that this burger is “100% plants”? It’s just flat-out wrong.
If you’re going to promote a product that is marketed as “100% plant based”, don’t cook it on a dirty stove by default. It completely destroys the point of the product if you’re not going to bother owning up to that statement. It’s probably mostly Burger King’s fault for not considering the complications of cooking everything on the same stove, but I would hold Impossible Foods at fault as well for not better marketing their product. Also, maybe don’t test your products on animals if you’re not required to by law?
“0% beef”? You also might want to think about revamping that slogan, Impossible Foods. Take some advice from me, and choose the plant-based options from Impossible Food’s top competitor, Beyond Meat, instead.
Coming up next: Why School Starting Ridiculously Early is NOT Good For Your Health