The photo above features the technology that blew people away at CES 2019, the largest consumer tech show in the world that just ended in Las Vegas last week.
Impossible Burger 2.0 is the second iteration of the project of Peter Brown of Impossible Foods, an inventor and Stanford professor who tries to create vegan meat as yummy and nutritious as regular one.
The first attempt didn’t quite get there. Critics and foodies remarked that the fake meat was better than average substitutes, but still below the mark of a tasty juicy patty in traditional burgers.
When Impossible Burger became available in 2016, my coworkers and I went to a local restaurant in San Francisco to give it a try. Although the burger was yummy, we all agreed that we won’t stand in line for it again.
It looks like version 2.0 is way better. Digital Trends called it ‘the top tech of CES 2019’. Engadget and CNET called it ‘the most unexpected product’ and compared it to a well cooked ribeye steak. Sounds like a pretty high grade.
Why is it important?
Meat consumption poses not only ethical, but also medical, economical and environmental problems.
- Healthcare and diet. After following a group of test participants for decades, Harvard researchers found a connection between daily consumption of red meat and chronic diseases. World Healthcare Association announced that beef, lamb and pork are cancerogenic when consumed as processed food; they are likely to be cancerogenic if unprocessed, too. The organization links red meat to heart diseases and Type 2 diabetes.
- Economics. Researchers predict that by 2020, 2.4 million people will die due to the meat-related reasons, creating the costs of $285 billion for the healthcare system. Oxford scientists estimate that by 2050, the meat diet will cost the world economy at least $1.6 trillion. They say, it is a conservative prediction.
- Environment and climate. The scale of greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, water contamination, and other negative ecological problems related to cattle farming are astonishing. Research suggests that to restore balance, Western countries need to cut beef consumption by 90%.
Ok, meat is troublesome. What do we do?
The peculiar reason why we won’t just stop eating meat is human psychology.
Behavior change is notoriously hard, and it gets lots of attention from the brightest psychologists, neuroscientists, medical doctors and behavioral economists.
People have deep convictions and beliefs that cause their choices: how they see the world, who they vote for, how they speak, what they eat. The old maxim ‘if you want to change the world, start with yourself’ tends to be pretty challenging to execute. And the older we get, the harder it becomes to change.
In behavior science, habits are frequently viewed as a sequence of:
- Cue (‘I’m hungry and I want to eat something nutritious’),
- Routine (‘Let me eat that burger’), and
- Reward (‘I’m full and satisfied. Get that dopamine!’).
The revolutionary technology behind Impossible Burger is not making a patty out of soy instead of meat. It is finding a way for our sensory system to process taste, smell, texture and nutrition of vegan food to get the same reward as real meat. And it’s worth a lot.
Would you switch to vegan meat in 2019?