Umami Does The Impossible Burger

Stephanie Kordan
Jul 3, 2017 · 5 min read

But Is It Vegan Without The Cheese?

The Impossible Burger is an entirely plant-based “meat” ingeniously created to tempt carnivores to the lighter side.

Umami’s Impossible Burger

Umami Burger revealed their new plant-based burger, currently available on the menu at nine of their Los Angeles locations, yet vegans are confused. Why is the plant-based burger served with dairy cheese?

The founder of Impossible Foods, Pat Brown, is a true visionary. He wants to replace the world’s consumption of cow meat with plant-based “meat” and hopes to improve our health as well as our environment by doing so.

The moment that Umami began it’s exciting reveal of the plant-based burger on their menu, Instagrammers were all over it. Posts of beefy-looking Impossible Burgers popped up on many feeds, yet soon after, questions from annoyed vegans flooded the comment threads:

“This burger is not plant based. It contains animal secretions. Super gross.”

“No cows used, yet cheese is on it. Missed the mark on this one.”

“It’s pointless that you guys have this. Your bun has dairy. You aren’t offering vegan cheese. Your ketchup has anchovies. And when I asked your staff why not have a REAL vegan option they told me “we aren’t a vegan restaurant and we are trying this for a limited time.” So please get rid of it quickly and let a restaurant that wants to make a real vegan option a chance.”

“On their official website under featured items it says vegan. It’s very misleading because even without the cheese, the buns aren’t vegan. @umamiburger just do us all (and yourself) a favor leave out the word vegan or better yet veganise it!”

“Anything but animal torture on a plate.”

“Does it come with vegan buns and toppings?”

“It does not come with a vegan bun. This burger is not plant-based, and contains animal secretions. Gross.”

“Please offer Vegan cheese and buns @umamiburger!!! Your satisfied Vegan customers will increase 10 fold!!!”

“Pointless. Get a real vegan option then we’ll talk. It’s a joke for you guys to have this.”

“Kinda confused why you guys even offer this if it’s served in a way so that it’s no longer vegan.”

“Pointless for you to have it. Please get rid of this and move on. Your staff is rude when asked why there isn’t a truly vegan option.”

“I won’t go until u have a vegan bun. C’mon guys, it’s kinda lame to go just for a patty.”

“But is it vegan without the cheese?”

During the special media event held at the downtown Los Angeles Umami location, founder Pat Brown stated that he himself has been a vegetarian for most of his life and has not eaten actual meat in decades. He explained his long term vision for plant-based meat to transition carnivores and help improve the environment:

“It’s [Impossible Burger] a waste on vegetarians,” Brown said emphatically, “because it isn’t for vegetarians, it’s for meat-eaters.”

The entire point of making a delicious meat-like plant-based burger, from founder Pat Brown’s perspective, is to give carnivores something that truly tastes like meat, down to the tang of blood one tastes with a bite of rare beef.

Heme, the “blood” taste you get in actual blood (it comes from myoglobin in animal protein) is also present in plants. The protein is called leghemoglobin, a heme protein that is naturally found in the root nodules of soy plants.

Leghemoglobin is similar to myoglobin, the heme protein that is exceptionally abundant in animal muscles, binds oxygen and gives meat its unique flavor and aroma, as well as its red or pink color.

If meat-eaters enjoy eating a plant-based patty that tastes just like beef, and plant-based patties reduce (and eventually replace) the consumption of beef, then we are making this world a better place overall. Health, wellness, and the world’s environment are Brown’s solid reasons for burger joints and restaurants around the globe to embrace the use of the Impossible Burger and plant-based meat sources.

Impossible Foods has a dedicated team of top scientists, farmers and chefs that have spent the last five years studying burgers from cow to bun. They identified methods and ingredients to naturally recreate everything — the sights, sounds, aromas, textures and flavors.

The result? An impossibly delicious plant-based burger.

The Impossible Burger uses a fraction of the Earth’s natural resources. Compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions. It’s 100% free of hormones, antibiotics, and artificial ingredients. It’s made of coconut oil, heme from legumes, wheat protein, and potatoes.

If vegans and vegetarians can understand that meat-centric restaurants like Umami are actually on their side by serving a plant-based patty that tastes, smells, feels and acts like beef (such as the patty created by Impossible Foods), then we can all get along.

Yes, The Impossible Burger itself is entirely plant-based. (It is not gluten-free, however, as one of the ingredients is wheat protein.) But what the chef decides to do with the patty is really their own choice. Umami’s take on the Impossible Burger will differ from that of a vegan restaurant — such as Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles’ Melrose area. The way the chef and their kitchen prepares the plant-based patty varies greatly. Umami serves their plant-based burger with real dairy cheese, sauces that have less than vegetarian ingredients, and buns that are not vegan. Hence, the uproar and disgruntled vegans expecting Umami to present something 100% vegan.

Perhaps Umami’s version of The Impossible Burger is confusing (and disappointing) to the plant-based vegan crowd. However, if Umami served an entirely vegan burger, there would be many satisfied vegan customers sharing plant-based burgers with their carnivorous friends, and ideally, they would all be eating a burger made entirely of plants, not animals, which is not an impossible dream.

Stephanie Kordan

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writer, blogger, photographer, artist. @stephaniekordan