On a busy street in Los Feliz, Los Angeles is a restaurant called Honeybee Burger. Inside, the chef flips burgers on the grill and serves them up to hungry clients. What distinguishes Honeybee from almost every other burger restaurant is that it doesn’t serve beef burgers, chicken burgers or any burgers made from meat. Instead, it produces the two varieties of meatless burgers that have exploded in popularity in recent years: the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger. These are so in demand that they have made their way onto the menus of thousands of restaurants, including those of traditional burger chains Burger King and Carl’s Jr.
The makers of both burgers, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, were founded in California some ten years ago and are today valued at $11.7 billion and $2 billion, respectively. They specialise in making plant-based meat substitutes but their star product is their burger, which is sold at restaurants and grocery stores in the US and in a growing number of other countries around the world. Their founders hope that their products will replace meat products on a global scale, eventually making meat obsolete.
Unlike meatless burgers of the past, the Beyond Burger, made primarily from pea protein, and the Impossible Burger, made primarily from soy, are designed to replicate beef burgers in taste and texture in order to appeal not only to vegetarians and vegans but also to meat-eaters. One of their biggest selling points is that they make a much smaller environmental impact than beef burgers, and of course they don’t harm animals.