Impossible Beef plant-based burgers, meals now on menu at New Zealand eateries

The Vino Vino (L) and Burger Burger (R) Impossible Beef burgers.
The Vino Vino (L) and Burger Burger (R) Impossible Beef burgers. Photo credit: supplied

US vegan brand Impossible Foods has launched in New Zealand with plant-based Impossible Beef burgers and other meals available from select eateries.

Impossible Foods, founded in California in 2011, is one of the most popular plant-based meat substitutes in the US along with rival Beyond Meat.

As of today, Impossible Beef items are for sale in eateries in Auckland, Christchurch and Mount Maunganui in outlets Burger Burger, Fatima's, Ashby Cafe, Cantine and Vino Vino.

The meat substitute is made up of soy and potato proteins, yeast extract, coconut and sunflower oils, methylcellulose and food starch. This combination is said to create a flavour similar to real meat with a texture that means it can be cooked like mince.

The ingredient said to make Impossible Beef so similar to real meat is 'heme', which the company makes via fermentation of genetically engineered yeast.

"Heme is what makes meat taste like meat. It's an essential molecule found in every living plant and animal - most abundantly in animals - and something we've been eating and craving since the dawn of humanity," Impossible Foods says on its website.

Ashby Cafe's Impossible Beef mince and cheese pie.
Ashby Cafe's Impossible Beef mince and cheese pie. Photo credit: supplied

Impossible Beef is also launching in Australia on Thursday at all locations of burger chain Grill'd. The company also sells products in Canada, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and the UAE.

"Our launches in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand are another huge step towards bringing delicious, sustainable options to every market in the world," said Dennis Woodside, president of Impossible Foods.

"Both countries are home to some of the most devoted meat-eaters on earth and we know they're going to love Impossible Beef."  

Each 113g serving of Impossible Beef promises 18.8g of protein and is described by the company as "a good source of iron, fibre and B vitamins (Niacin, B6 and B12)".

Due to its soy content, anyone allergic or sensitive to soy should steer clear of Impossible Beef.

Sold as the Impossible Burger in the US, the food has a significantly lower impact on the environment than real beef and obviously means you're not eating a dead animal's flesh, but there is debate around how healthy it is compared to genuine meat. 

"[Impossible Beef] is a good source of fibre, calcium and potassium, and [has] zero cholesterol," reports Allina Health, "[but is] high in saturated fats and sodium, both of which are linked to serious health issues like obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure."

Healthline published a handy nutritional comparison which notes: "The Impossible Burger beats beef in many vitamin and mineral categories like folate, B12, thiamine and iron."

John Mackey, a high-profile vegan and co-founder of the Whole Foods brand in the US, told CNBC he would not endorse meat substitutes like Impossible and Beyond, labelling them "super, highly processed foods".

As for the taste? Impossible Beef is available in Aotearoa now, so it's up to Kiwis if they want to see just how it compares to genuine New Zealand beef.