In a land of cows, stomaching a meatless burger

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The Impossible Whopper, unwrapped.

About three months ago, Burger King started selling the Impossible Whopper, a meatless Whopper that contains soy, potato and yeast, among other things, according to the Burger King website.

The Hungry Horse News tested it against a traditional beef Whopper last week, with all the trimmings.

The Impossible Whopper doesn’t exactly taste like charbroiled beef, our three taste testers noted, but it doesn’t taste bad either. The Impossible Whopper gets its flavor from heme produced by yeast. Heme is a protein that also gives beef and other meats their flavor.

“We took the DNA from these soy plants and inserted it into a genetically engineered yeast. We ferment this yeast (very similar to the way Belgian beer is made) to produce heme,” the company says on its website.

In side-by-side taste tests with a traditional beef Whopper, our results were mixed. Hungry Horse News archivist Teresa Byrd liked the Impossible Burger, as did ad director Andrea Robinson, but editor Chris Peterson noted that while the flavor wasn’t bad, it certainly wasn’t beef. Robinson noted that her sandwich was also on the dry side, but might be a good alternative for folks who don’t eat meat or are on restricted diets. Byrd, who also works on a revegetation crew in Glacier National Park, admitted she was pro-plant food.

The Impossible Whopper still packs a lot of calories for a sandwich — 630. It also has 34 grams of fat and 11 grams of saturated fat. Some of that fat comes from the mayonnaise slathered on the burger, but the Impossible Burger website notes that a quarter pound of the product, sans mayo, still has eight grams of saturated fat per four ounces.

The traditional Whopper is 660 calories, has 40 grams of fat and 12 grams of saturated fat. The beef Whopper also has 1.5 grams of transfat, the Impossible Burger has none.

Grass-fed beef, by comparison, has about 7 grams of fat per four ounces and just 3.1 grams of saturated fat. It also tastes like what it is — beef.

The Impossible Burger touts its product as being friendly to the environment because it uses soy and other plants, but hundreds of thousands of acres of forests in Brazil have been razed to raise soybeans, which it fails to mention.

Try one yourself. The Impossible Burger is available at the Columbia Falls Burger King. It costs $5.99 for the sandwich only.

You can watch a video of Teresa and Andrea’s first impressions on our Facebook page.

Chris Peterson is the editor of the Hungry Horse News.

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