The geek in me is one of those early adopters who likes to be one of the first to try something new and innovative. When I first heard about the Impossible Burger, I seriously could not wait to try it more because I was intrigued by the way the texture of the burger looked from the photos. The patty looked like ground beef to me.
I was quickly sold on the premise, “High on taste. Low on impact.” Here is a burger that has 1/8 the carbon footprint and tastes like beef. From a marketing perspective, brilliant!
I first tried the Impossible Burger at Cockscomb in SF. Their Impossible burger comes with lettuce, dijon, Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and bread & butter pickles. I didn’t get the cheese because I’m allergic to dairy. Here is a video I did at Cockscomb where you can see the burger and my final opinion on whether the Impossible Burger lives up to the hype.
Spoiler alert. OMG! Is this thing for real? It’s making me see the world differently already.
What’s mind blowing about the Impossible Burger is that this isn’t your dad’s veggie burger. If you closed your eyes and took a bite, you’d think it was a regular beef burger. It’s like Impossible re-imagined ground beef using plants instead of cows. It’s like if Mother Nature said okay if we could go back in time and create beef again, we could do it like this. No sentient beings need to be killed. No factory farms required.
The Impossible Burger is a great example of Clean Proteins, protein sources that are akin to Clean Energy. Clean Proteins are proteins that are produced with low carbon and low eco footprints. It’s all about low impact to help stop climate change, further environmental damage, and more threats to human health caused by industrial animal agriculture while having a delicious time doing it.
One thing that surprised me was how good this burger is without ketchup. Sorry, not sorry, but I’m one of those people who puts ketchup on everything. Can’t help it. I LOVE my ketchup! The way the Cockscomb burger is prepared is actually better without ketchup. Never thought I’d say that about a burger.
My only criticism of the Impossible Burger is that it’s primarily being served at high-end restaurants where the going price is averaging almost $20…a burger. At Cockscomb, it was $19 without fries.
But, I get why Impossible is starting with the high-end to make it an aspirational want. It’s a great approach to make plant-based eating cool and desirable. Umami Burger partnered with Jaden Smith for a special Impossible slider trio to help raise donations for Hurricane Relief Efforts.
Fortunately, the Impossible Burger is starting to come down in price because they have opened a new manufacturing facility here in the Bay Area which can crank out 1 million pounds of plant-based meat per month at full capacity, which can supply about 1,000 restaurants.
At Gott’s Roadside, they are selling an Impossible Cheeseburger for $12.99 without fries. Their burger is served with American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles & secret sauce on a toasted egg bun. Sadly though, at least to me because I like bread, to make it vegan you have to nix the cheese and order the burger with a lettuce wrap so it ends up looking like the In N’ Out “Protein Style” burger. All of Gott’s buns including their gluten-free bun is made with egg.
Here is the Impossible Burger at Gott’s without cheese. I already knew about the Gott’s egg buns beforehand so I brang a vegan hamburger bun and swapped it after taking the photos so I could eat it. The first photo in the post cover image is the same Gott’s Impossible Burger.
Again, SO GOOD! The patty is a little slimmer than the one at Cockscomb but it’s just as good and meaty. You can see in this closer up photo that the texture of the Impossible Burger looks like ground beef. Gott’s also features Sir Kensington’s Spicy Brown mustard which is amazing!
Here is the FAQs about the Impossible Burger which includes the nutritional information and a locator so you can find out if the Impossible Burger is being offered at a restaurant near you. Impossible does not have any retails sales yet so you cannot buy it at a grocery currently. When that happens, I’ll be one of the first people at the grocery store because I want to make some Impossible spaghetti sauce and sloppy joes.
Have you tried the Impossible Burger? What did you think of it?
This eggplant dish is so pretty and tasty! I actually stared at my dish for a while just to admire the beauty of Mother Nature’s work. I love all the purple colors and since 2018 is the year Pantone named “Ultra Violet” color of the year, this dish is a perfect fit.
I found this beautiful Thai basil bursting with purple flowers at the farmers market. Flowering plants are a fun way to add some beautiful garnish to your dishes. Next to the basil were some cool looking purple Thai peppers. I love me some purple colored foods, and jumped at the chance to make a purple power dish.
For the eggplant, I went with the smaller rounder style eggplant versus the longer skinnier eggplant just to play with some shapes.
I roasted the eggplant because I really love the flavors and textures you get from roasting. Roasting vegetables is not a traditional Asian style of cooking but hey, it’s fun to fuse different styles together, right?
For the sauce, I used gluten-free tamari to make the dish gluten-free.
Ingredients (serves 4):
1 pound of round eggplant cut into quarter pieces
12-14 Thai peppers (depending on how spicy you want the dish)
3/4 cup chopped Thai basil leaves
Thai basil flowers for garnish
Chopped red jalapeno (optional for topping)
Extra virgin olive oil
For the sauce:
3 tbs gluten-free tamari
2 tbs organic brown sugar
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
¼ tsp garlic powder
Let’s start cooking
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
On a baking sheet spread the eggplant pieces out and cover the eggplant with olive oil. Sprinkle a few dashes of sea salt over the eggplant pieces. Use just a small amount of salt because the tamari used in the sauce is high in salt.
Roast for 25 minutes. Do not remove the sheet yet. Coat the Thai peppers with some olive oil and toss onto the sheet with the eggplant and roast for an additional 5 minutes. We are basically sweating the peppers a bit so they become a little softer.
Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool down. The eggplant should be soft to the touch, not too mushy.
To make the sauce, in a small bowl, combine the tamari, brown sugar, garlic and garlic powder, and mix together until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Heat on medium a wok or large sauce pan. Put the roasted eggplant and peppers into the pan. Toss in the chopped basil leaves and pour the sauce over the eggplant. Mix well.
Cover the wok or pan, and let the eggplant simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Take the pan off the burner and let the eggplant cool down.
When plating your eggplant and pepper dish, garnish on top with some of the beautiful flowers and sprinkle on some chopped red Jalapeno like I did in the photo for some fun burst of color.
This is one of my favorite snacks to get in some protein and fiber. It’s especially good to make when you have leftover Quinoa. My bowl here has 1/3 cups lima beans, 2/3 cups sweet green peas, and 1/4 Quinoa with some lentils I cooked with the Quinoa.
I use frozen organic beans and peas for ease. Just mix the beans and peas together with some water to help defrost the legumes, and microwave for one minute. After heating, I drain the water and sprinkle a little garlic salt and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Boom done!
Today, I felt a little more snazzy and sauteed some chopped sweet onion in avocado oil until caramelized a bit, and then added the lima beans and peas with a little garlic salt. Heat for a minute and add the Quinoa.
This easy snack has 10g of protein and 7g of fiber.
Becoming more plant-based happened gradually and intuitively as I worked on becoming a more conscious human being, and became more concerned about maintaining good health entering my 40’s.
I saw too many older loved ones taking a myriad of pills for various chronic health issues like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Many died from stroke, cancer, and heart attack.
I decided to be preventative versus reactive with my health.
Going vegan was too much of a drastic change for me, so I went Flexitarian aiming for an 80/20 split of animals/plants in my diet which works out to 4 meals with meat out of your 21 meals for the week. That was a doable goal.
After 5 years, I got to eating meat about as much as I ate cheesecake, rarely. In September 2016, I started a 100 day meat-free challenge that I ended up doing for 365 days straight. This was my first year meat-free, and I decided to keep going into year 2 mainly because I feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually eating plant-based.
I’m all about progress versus perfection. Start where you can. Do your best. Be patient with yourself.
The Filipino in me isn’t quite ready to give up my mom’s home cooking. Although she no longer uses meat in some of my favorite dishes like Mungo beans and Pinakbet, she still uses patis, fish sauce.
I am enjoying discovering new foods, and new ways of cooking favorite foods 100% plant-based. In the photo at the top of this post is a vegan Filipino meal I cooked using jackfruit to make a shredded pork-like adobo with pancit Bihon, veggie lumpia, and garlic rice. Masarap!
Admittedly, I was a consumer who consciously didn’t want to know any details of my meat’s life or death.
I was comfortable in the illusion I held of happy cows, pigs, and chickens grazing in open green fields on old McDonald’s farm like these piglets here. I had no idea how factory farms worked and how they impacted people, animal, and planet.
I decided it was time to take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Stepping into the realities of factory farms was honestly like watching a real life horror film.
You don’t have to be vegan to get how messed up and appalling the factory farm system is. Factory farms are a result of Americans meat gluttony, and the meat industry’s drive to continuously grow economically.
Per capita per year, Americans eat the most meatin the world.
In 2016, Americans ate on average 214 lbs of meat per capita which breaks down into Chicken at 106 lbs, Beef/Veal at 55 lbs, Pork at 51 lbs, and Sheep at 2 lbs. ~ 2016 edition of OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook For perspective, in India, the average meat consumption per person is 10 lbs for the whole year.
Climate change. Ocean dead zones. Fisheries depletion. Species extinction. Deforestation. World hunger. Food safety. Heart disease. Obesity. Diabetes. The list goes on.
I want off this trainwreck.
This is a hog factory farm in North Carolina flooded by hurricane Floyd. And yes, that is hog crap literally floating to surrounding communities where people live. The manure lagoons sometimes the size of football fields are filled with animal waste, chemical pollutants, bacteria, and parasites.
“Factory-farmed livestock produced 369 million tons of manure in 2012, about 13 times as much as the sewage produced by the entire U.S. population. This 13.8 billion cubic feet of manure is enough to fill the Dallas Cowboys stadium 133 times. Unlike sewage produced in cities, manure on factory farms does not undergo any wastewater treatment.”
This is straight up disgusting and has gotten health hazard written all over it. I enjoy bacon but it’s not worth that.
Can you be a meat eating progressive?
In a Rich Roll podcast, musician and vegan activist Moby brought up this question and it got me thinking.
It would make sense to be vegan if you are a progressive because progressives are against oppression, exploitation, and corporate greed which are all represented in the factory farm system.
Historically, progressives are the ones who are the first to enlighten society about the wrongness of what is happening socially like the abolitionists, suffragists, feminists, and civil rights activists who were seen as extreme at the time but whose efforts led to the end of slavery, the end of women not being able to vote, and the end of interracial and same-sex couples not being able to marry.
Animal activists may very well lead us to see the end of slaughtering animals for food.
Other social issues tied to factory farms include environmental racism and injustice, and worker labor abuse. I never even thought about the people who worked in slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants and how doing that job impacts them emotionally, psychologically and physically. Abroad in Asia where we import plenty of seafood there is widespread slavery, forced labor of migrant workers, child labor, trafficking and violence on fishing boats and in onshore food processing units.
In the movie, “What the Health,” the most heartbreaking part of the movie was the interviews of people living near a hog factory farm in North Carolina. A young black grandmother spoke of the heartbreaking loss of loved ones who got cancer and died too soon.
Here is a really good interview that TYT did with Moby, Nathan Runkle, the Founder of Mercy for Animals, and NBA championship player John Salley about vegan activism which includes quite a bit discussion about climate change and the environment. Moby expands more about progressive values and animal rights and justice.
I consider myself an Independent progressive. I was a California delegate for Bernie Sanders in his 2016 bid for POTUS. I left the Democratic party after the convention in Philly. So obviously, social issues are a big deal to me..
When I started to see the disconnects between my politics and food choices, what became glaring was that my meat purchases were economically supporting systems ruled by corporatist greed and monopolistic behavior that I am opposed to – factory farms, Big GMO, and Big Pharma. Now add meatpacking to my list. Did you know that only four corporations control the meatpacking industry? They are Tyson, Cargill, JBS (a Brazil based conglomerate), and Smithfield Foods.
When the progressive in me thinks about any of my money going to help raise the stock prices of these greedy industries who think nothing of making profits at the expense of people, animal, and planet, I quickly stop me in my tracks. NO more.
Big GMO profits substantially from our meat and dairy purchases
Every consumer has a corporation they despise. For me, it’s Monsanto. In fact, my loathing of Monsanto is how I got involved in food activism in the first place. I helped campaign for GMO Labeling laws and marched against Monsanto.
I never made the connection before that my meat purchases were contributing to Big GMO’s billions in profits because of factory farms. In this episode of VICE on HBO, “Meathooked & End of Water” skip to minute 11:54 and you will see an aerial view from a small airplane of large corn crop circles adjacent to one of the largest cattle factory farms in Colorado. It’s eerie to see from the air.
On a side note related to my previous discussion above on North Carolina hog factory farms, go to minute 8:00 of Meathooked and you will see video both on land and in the air of the hog factory farms and their manure lagoons. This too is eerie.
Corn and soy are the two largest crops produced in the U.S. 92% of all corn, and 94% of all soy grown in the U.S. is GMO. Monsanto controls 80% of the GM corn market, and 93% of the GM soy market. In 2016, Monsanto had net sales of $13.5 billion.
If I can help it, not one penny of mine is going to Big GMO.
The white cow
Let me introduce you to Ella, my white cow friend who I find enchanting among a herd of brown cows that roam our suburban hills for 2 months every year. I would see Ella every week during my runs and soon became emotionally attached.
I came upon this YouTube video called, “The White Cow” about a medical doctor who visited a local slaughterhouse. The doctor captured what a humane slaughter looks like.
The white cow clip is only 4 minutes long and mostly depicts the brief ill-fated relationship between the doctor and the sweet white cow she befriends. The last 45 seconds is a quick edit of the slaughter process, and it’s straight forward.
I saw my sweet, playful Ella in that slaughterhouse. You see the last look in this sweet cow’s face before they bring her onto the kill stage, and I imagined Ella and I lost it. Crying hard.
I thought to myself, “If you cannot bear to watch the humane slaughter of a cow, why are you eating their meat?”
I finally understood my vegan friends who would say that there is no such thing as a “humane slaughter.” I totally get it now.
The word humane means “showing compassion or benevolence, an act of kindness.” The actual kind thing to do is spare the life of a perfectly healthy cow who doesn’t want to die in the first place.
The term ‘humane meat’ is similar to saying clean coal or responsible fracking. It’s a marketing term to make us feel better about the real truth. Yes, the animal did live a better life than their factory farm counterparts but in the end, they still die an unwilling death.
These animals trusted us to take care of them, and in the end we betray that trust. I realized that uncomfortableness I was feeling was my soul and head in disagreement with each other, which was easily fixed by stopping my participation in the death cycle of all the other Ellas and her kin.
The plant-based foods are definitely delicious and feel better in my body
I’m a visual person so I like bright colors and fun textures in my food. To transition to eating more plant-based, I focused on eating the colors of the rainbow in the form of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Many nutritionists recommend eating the rainbow as a way to get in your daily needs of nutrients and fiber.
When I was younger, I ate mostly rice, meats, breads, cheese, potatoes, and pasta. I ate vegetables only as condiments like lettuce and tomato on a turkey sandwich. If I did a collage of the foods I ate back then, the colors would be mostly brown, beige, and white with orange for cheese and red for tomato pasta sauce.
Today, I eat like this.
The more I ate colorful foods like this, the more my palate changed on its own and started craving this food. Here is a sample of what I eat currently.
Bok choy with bulgur, shiitake mushrooms and cherry tomatoes cooked in vegan chicken broth
Roasted acorn squash with Harissa sauce, red quinoa salad, marinated mushrooms and green salad
Forager Project cherry yogurt blended with organic banana topped with figs, granola and cherries
Red Domingo heirloom beans with ginger, turmeric brown Jasmine rice, grilled Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers and chopped Early Girl tomatoes.
Butternut squash risotto with English peas and cremini mushrooms
Looks delicious right?! I do not miss meat at all.
Seeing this photo of a cow and her horse bestie at a sanctuary farm knowing they will live long lives lovingly cared for brings me joy.
There was a time when eating turkey on Thanksgiving, lechon at the family gathering, and noshing on the famous Carnegie Deli pastrami sandwich brought me joy. Now, no more.
I came to realize that eating animals is no longer in energetic alignment with who I am. I no longer feel good physically, emotionally, and mentally eating animals. I feel better and stronger eating plant-based.
This synopsis about Jonathan Foer’s book, “Eating Animals” sums it up for me.
“When one supports factory farming, one is relinquishing the importance of certain moral behavior to animals, and in turn, to humans as well. For example, if one denies the importance of the suffering of an animal, one denies the importance of the ability to suffer in and of itself, so it follows that one denies the importance of suffering for humans. In a similar chain of logic, Foer connects our treatment of animals to our treatment of humans―we dichotomize between those who matter and those who do not. Consequently, each food choice an individual makes is an ethical one that profoundly impacts both human and non-human animals.”