Impossible Burgers: does soy bring joy?

The Impossible Burger is a new vegan alternative to a traditional meat burger, and I tried two versions at two different price points.


by Faith Andrews-O'Neal, Opinion Editor

I want to preface this article by saying I am very much a meat-eater. As in, I could survive on nothing but Kansas City Joe’s ribs and maybe water for the rest of my life. When I found out about the Impossible Burger, I was struck with confusion and an overwhelming sense of skepticism. How could a plant emulate meat? How could any soybean fill me with the same unfettered joy that a beef hamburger at a cookout does? 

The answer is science. According to CNET, the Impossible Burger is made from a mixture of soy and potato proteins, and either sunflower or coconut oils that give it the greasy feel of a traditional burger. I tried two different Impossible Burgers at two (quite) different price points to try out this scientific miracle for myself.

Burger King (3/5 stars)

My first stop was Burger King to try out their new Impossible Whopper. To make sure I really tasted the “meat,” I ordered only ketchup on a plain bun. Burger King’s buns are vegan, so I was able to get the full vegan experience. It was around $6, slightly more expensive than a regular whopper. It is a new item, and vegan eating is oftentimes not seen as cost-effective, so this made sense. I unwrapped the special teal wrapper and saw in front of me… a burger. On my first bite, I turned to my friend and said “yes, this is meat,” because it really did taste like it! The texture and the color were extremely similar to that of a regular Burger King Whopper. The first half of the Whopper, I was very much enjoying myself, only slightly offset by a vaguely salty aftertaste. The patty itself was thin, but the same could be said for its traditionally meaty counterpart. 

The issues with the Whopper came around one half of the way in. Although the patty remained tasty, the aftertaste became almost overbearing. As a child who was often forced to eat edamame in order to get to dessert, one could only describe this aftertaste as soy-esque. Then, upon finishing the Burger, a barely-there stomach ache began to set in, which remained for the rest of the evening. I do concede that this could also be my stomach adjusting to the vegan lifestyle to which I subjected it. Therefore, the Impossible Burger gets 3 out of 5 stars from me. It was a good introduction to the world of the Impossible meat, and as good as one can expect from a traditional fast food joint. However, the aftertaste and subsequent discomfort have deterred me from ordering the Impossible Whopper for quite some time, if ever. 

Unforked: (4.5/5 stars)

Next, I made my way to Crown Center to Unforked. Going into the restaurant, seeing the light wood, creative lighting fixtures, and chill pop music, I knew this was exactly the right place for an Impossible Burger. Nothing to me says veganism more than aesthetic furniture and a series of very large light bulbs held together in creative ways. Unforked burgers come normally on an egg bun but offered gluten-free and vegan buns for a slight upcharge. It seems to me that a vegan burger should come with a vegan bun, but this is capitalism and I digress. 

I waited at the table for my burger to come, splitting some (very delicious) truffle fries. When my food arrived at the table, the first thing I noticed was the “bun”, if it could be called that. Admittedly, I have never had vegan bread so I am not sure if this was the norm. On first sight, I’d say it looked like a mixture of the white bread given with a barbecue plate, and one’s first attempt at making a pancake for the first time. 

However off-putting the ”bun” was, it was saved overwhelmingly by the patty. Unforked outsold. Unforked looked at Burger King, laughed, and said “now watch this.” Somehow, it was the perfect mixture of juicy and charred. The bun was slightly disconcerting, but it complimented the burger because it did not overshadow the flavor of the “meat.” With the fries as a wonderful side (I could write an entire piece on the fries and the glory that was the truffle salt and ketchup), it was a fantastic burger. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars only because the bun was not my favorite, and at $14 (with the vegan bun upcharge), it is slightly out of my daily price range. However, I would eat it again.

All in all, the Impossible Burger lives up to its hype. If you are a vegan who loves the taste and feel of meat, this is for you. It is not necessarily a healthier alternative. According to Elisabetta Politi, M.P.H., R.D., L.D.N., the nutrition director of the Duke Diet & Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina (via Runners World), the burger is not exactly healthy. The fat content is higher due to the added oils, and it has a higher carb amount and lower protein than an 80% lean beef burger. However, if you are very against eating meat, but miss the joy that comes with eating an actual burger, I highly recommend Unforked or its slightly inferior Burger King counterpart.