A Burger King Whopper traditionally contains flame-grilled beef, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, pickles and sliced white onions on a soft sesame bread.
Patrons across 59 restaurants in St Louis, Missouri, were the first to try a new iteration of the fast food chain's most famous sandwich – one made with a meatless patty from Impossible Foods.
So taken were the diners from this sample group that Burger King announced on April 29 it will release its Impossible Whoppers across its 7,000-plus chains in the US by the end of this year.
We've reached out to Burger King Middle East to find out whether or not we can expect the veggie-friendly Whopper in the UAE any time soon, but have yet to hear back.
“The Impossible Whopper is all Whopper, no beef. It’s as juicy, craveable and delicious as the original,” the company said in a statement.
The meatless patties by Impossible, a Silicon Valley start-up, are typically made from water, plant proteins, coconut oil and heme – the molecule attributed to carrying oxygen in our blood. It's this latter ingredient, which happens to be extractable from plants such as soy, that causes the patty to sizzle, smell and cook like beef. And bleed.
On April 1, Burger King even played a prank on its customers by having them bite into a meatless burger to see if they could tell the difference (they couldn't), filming the surprised, often humorous reactions.
The Burger King website lists its regular Whopper as containing 660 calories, while the Impossible patty packs in about 240 calories, with eight grams of fat, 370mg sodium and 19g protein, obtained from a soy-protein concentrate. So while it's less calorific, it's not exactly a "healthy" meal. What it is, though, is ethical.
Compared to a patty made from cows, an Impossible Burger uses 20 times less land, a quarter of the water, and produces an eighth of the greenhouse gas emissions. Not to mention it doesn't plonk any dead animals on your plate.
Other plant-based substitutes
Burger King is being purported as the largest chain to go down the plant-based route, but it's not nearly the first.
US food chain Bareburger unveiled the UAE's first vegan bleeding B12 burger last September, with a Beyond Burger patty. The redness of the "flesh" comes from beetroot and it changes hue as it cooks, just like the real thing. Nolu's at Al Seef Mall in Abu Dhabi also serves Beyond burger patties. A variety of other meat substitutes and non-diary cheeses by Beyond are available at Souq Planet at Etihad Plaza in Abu Dhabi.