Business Insider Edition

Burger King's new meatless Impossible Whopper isn't completely vegetarian or vegan

Meredith Cash , Business Insider US
 Aug 08, 2019, 12:03 PM
Burger King's Impossible Whopper.
  • Burger King's meatless burger, the "Impossible Whopper," is rolling out at locations in the US on Thursday.
  • According to the chain's website, employees prepare the Impossible Whopper - which is "0% beef" - in the same broiler where they cook many of the restaurant's other offerings, including beef and chicken.
  • Many vegetarians and vegans refuse to eat vegetarian or vegan foods if they have been exposed to meat or non-vegan products.
  • A representative for the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told INSIDER that the organisation is "delighted to see establishments adding more such items to their menus" regardless of whether or not they are prepared separately.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

Burger King is rolling out meatless hamburgers - dubbed "Impossible Whoppers" - at locations in the US this week, a move that was hailed as a victory for vegetarians and vegans across the country.

But now, it looks as though the fast-food chain's decision to cater to more diverse palates has hit a snag.

On its website, Burger King revealed that employees prepare the Impossible Whopper - which is "0% beef" - in the same broiler where they cook many of the restaurant's other offerings, including beef and chicken.

The Impossible Burger is made of "mostly soy protein, potato protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and heme."

Preparing the Impossible Whopper, which is made of "mostly soy protein, potato protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and heme," on the same surface as real meats puts the patty at risk of cross-contamination. But many vegetarians and vegans refuse to eat otherwise vegetarian or vegan foods that have been exposed to meat or non-vegan products.

Although customers may be drawn to the Impossible Whopper for the environmental or health benefits, Burger King might be at risk of alienating a major segment of its target demographic by preparing the meatless burgers alongside other meats.

A representative for the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told INSIDER that the organisation is "delighted to see establishments adding more such items to their menus," regardless of whether or not they are prepared separately.

"It's not uncommon for restaurants offering vegan options to prepare them with the same cooking equipment used for other foods, but we must remember that helping animals is not about personal purity," the PETA representative said. "Choosing vegan options means eating food that's healthier and better for the environment and that doesn't contribute to the immense suffering and terrifying deaths of animals."

Still, those who choose to abstain from eating meat due to religious purposes, such as many who belong to the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain faiths, may take issue with Burger King's grilling practices with their new plant-based meats.

Burger King partnered with Impossible Foods earlier this year and rolled out Impossible Whoppers in select cities, including San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Miami.

As of Thursday, the meatless burgers will be available across the country. In honor of the Impossible Whopper's nationwide release, Burger King will be selling the meatless option alongside the traditional Whopper for $7 (R105) total.

Representatives for Burger King and Impossible Foods did not immediately respond to INSIDER's request for comment.

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