Vocabulary: copies and substitutions
The veggie burger: this humble non-meat burger substitute is a staple of many a vegetarian meal. Though vegetarianism has a long history that reaches as far back as Egyptian times, and while many a vegetable-only stand-in patty is likely to have been used in the interim, the term veggie burger is commonly attributed to a Gregory Sams of London, who in 1982 created the 'Vegeburger'.
So what is a veggie burger? Well, a hamburger is a meat patty between two halves of a bun. A veggie burger is similar, except the patty is a meat-free equivalent, commonly made from ingredients such as beans, tofu, nuts, grains and mushrooms. In many cases, the differences between the meat patty and vegetarian surrogate are clear, but Impossible Foods of Silicon Valley hope to put an end to that.
The Impossible burger is made of a plant-based iron-containing molecule that resemblesblood. It's called 'heme' and it's a key ingredient in their wheat, coconut and potato-based meat duplicate. It apparently looks, smells and even bleeds like meat – but it's grown in a lab using biochemistry. This replicated burger is indistinguishable from meat 47% of the time in tests conducted among meat lovers, Impossible claims.
There are many non-meat alternatives that are designed to closely imitate meat and many non-vegetarians might wonder why. Marketing is one good reason: faux-meat products appeal to meat-lover and vegetarian alike due to their alleged health benefits. If you can have the food you love at a lower health cost, why wouldn't you?
Another reason is more ethical. Many people stop eating meat for moral reasons rather than dietary ones. They may seek to reduce animal suffering by boycotting meat products or wish to reduce the meat industry's large environmental impact. Livestock production is responsible for 18% of total greenhouse gases, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). However, they may still miss the taste of meat. Therefore pseudo-meat is a nice fill-in.
Finally, "there are associated feelings and memories that go with certain foods," says Thomas Banks, BBC Learning English producer and 15-year vegetarian. "I didn't grow up a vegetarian and sometimes I miss my family's cooking. Replica meat allows me to have a good home-cooked meal that's just like mum used to make." Who can argue with that?