Beyond meat movement gains traction among fast-food retailers

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Ella Olsson | Pexels

Amanda Salazar

In recent weeks, popular fast-food company Burger King’s television commercials have shifted from promoting their new “$1 tacos” to the next newest addition to their menus: the Impossible Whopper. 

The Impossible Whopper is prepared like their regular Whopper burgers — except that the beef patty contains no meat. It’s a plant-based burger from Impossible Foods Inc. made of soy protein and coconut oil, among other ingredients, CNBC reported.

Burger King is just one of many fast-food companies and restaurants to add vegan meat options to their stocks. Other places include Subway, Chipotle, Taco Bell, Panera, and Carl’s Jr.

From the looks of it, this market is just going to keep growing.Next to the Impossible burger, the Beyond burger — made of peas, mung bean, rice and cocoa butter — is another increasingly popular red meat substitute, is just one of Beyond Meat’s many fake meat products, Bloomberg Businessweek stated.

Vegan options are continuing to be introduced to many big American chains as well as to local restaurants, which is significant considering that meat and poultry are a staple in most Americans’ diets. 

Sold in over 53,000 restaurants, Bloomberg Businessweek also stated, Beyond Meat is proving that plant-based meat substitutes are a sustainable option and not just a fad. 

It’s shown that establishments serving or selling the Impossible burger or the Beyond burger have gone through shortages of the products because they were in so high demand. 

The rise of these companies isn’t just due to short-term hype. Beyond Meat has a $9 billion market value and Impossible is valued at about $2 billion. It’s a growing industry with signs of not slowing down.

The environmental impact of eating meat substitute is undeniable, and even cutting out some meat from a person’s diet has lasting long-term impacts.

“A plant-based burger generates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 45% less energy, has 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use than a ¼ pound of traditional U.S. beef,” as reported by CNBC from a study by the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan. 

It’s no secret that raising cattle requires large amounts of water and that cow feces, or manure, releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere which contribute to global warming and climate change. 

In fact, a single beef patty produces around 260 grams of greenhouse gasses,  — the equivalent of driving about 1.5 miles in a car, The Independent states — and “a 1/3-pound burger requires 660 gallons of water,” The L.A. Times reported from National Geographic. 

To produce a plant-based burger, cows are not needed at all, and therefore those numbers are forgone. For that reason alone, Beyond Meat and its competitors have a secure and stable future. 

While the Beyond burger and a regular burger have roughly the same amount of calories and saturated fat, plant-based meats are healthier than beef in that they don’t cause an increased risk for obesity, diabetes and cancer like real meat does.