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The Impossible Burger, which first appeared in grocery stores in September, is made entirely of plant-based ingredients. But it looks, smells, feels and--most mportantly--tastes so much like real hamburger beef that it's hard to tell the difference between, say, the Impossible Whopper now available at Burger King and the original charred flesh version that the fast food chain has been selling for decades.

While it's true that a plant-based meat alternative is processed--meaning altered in the preparation process, like just about everything else at the grocery store--and it's true that eating one is not as healthy as say, a pile of raw vegetables, it's best to take the ads with a generous pinch of salt. (Or sodium, which the ads correctly note is higher in precooked plant patties than in the beef kind.)

For instance, the additives and preservatives in plant-based meat highlighted in one ad sure sound scary. Who wants something called titanium dioxide in their meal? But the truth is that additives such as those listed in the ads are regularly used in all sorts of packaged foods.

What's appealing is the prospect of enjoying a juicy burger without the bitter aftertaste of guilt.

Because, let's face it, there are tremendous environmental costs to eating cows. Cattle ranching is contributing to climate change, and not just because methane from cows and livestock is responsible for about 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. More broadly, our global food production system emits more than a third of the world's greenhouse gases.

So why do we still do it? Because meat tastes soooooo good and it is such an efficient source of protein. Plus, did we mention it's so tasty? A plant-based meat that satisfies meat cravings and delivers protein but with a smaller climate footprint is a potential environmental game changer and the reason Impossible Foods was one of the recipients of the UN Global Climate Action Award in 2019. No wonder the meat industry is on guard.

Editorial on 01/09/2020

Print Headline: One small step for cow...

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