Beyond Impossible

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Michelle Phillips

I was driving past Burger King the other day when I saw a sign that read, “Try the Impossible Whopper.” For a second it didn’t register and I thought, “What is an Impossible Burger?” Then immediately remembered, “Oh a ‘bloody,’ veggie burger.”

I have not been eager to try one of these scientific marvels, a veggie burger that looks, and supposedly tastes, like the real thing, in spite of liking a real burger to be no more than pink in the middle. My friend, Olivia, however, has been obsessed with them since the moment they came out and was dying for her grocery store to offer the home version, Beyond Burgers.

She called me right after she first got a chance to consume one, and marveled at their likeness to real meat. The texture, the flavor and the look were melding together to make this the perfect veggie burger, according to Olivia.

I didn’t eat meat for about five years in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, but one of my biggest struggles was finding fast food while traveling. Burger King was one of my choices because they had a Morningstar veggie burger on their menu. Of course there was always the old standby, Taco Bell, where you could create a burrito, quesadilla, etc. with vegetarian components. I reminded of Olivia of this when she called it a “game changer” in regard to travel food.

It was actually want of a burger that caused me to start eating meat again. I was working at the Drake Diner, and had been for a couple of years at the time, but for some reason, I could not stop thinking about a bacon and swiss burger. It consumed my every thought. I was in college at the time, and one of my story ideas for our class magazine, 515, was a comparison of burgers around the Des Moines Metro.

One day on my way home from class, I walked by the diner and smelled the searing scent of burgers, flames licking them on the grill. I got home and started doing homework before I had to go to work, but I kept seeing burgers dancing across the page as I read. They were in a kick line, like the Rockettes, taunting me with their promise of tasty goodness. 

When I got to work, it was torture serving up the disks of beefy deliciousness. I made it through the night, but the next day, Sunday, my day off, was the day I gave in to the temptation of a cheeseburger. I walked down to the diner and ordered the bacon Swiss burger I had been longing for, and as I took the first bites, a piece of ground meat never tasted so good. I paid and left. About halfway home (I was only a block away) I started to feel violently nauseous. All of a sudden, I threw up all of my lunch, right there on the sidewalk, in the snow, in front of my neighbor’s house. I didn’t eat much meat for a couple of weeks after that incident, but slowly started incorporating it into my diet again, though I sometimes wonder why.

Lately, I have been thinking about going back to being a vegetarian, mostly because it is healthier. I rarely felt deprived as a vegetarian, probably because I was still eating dairy, and I should say that I have no desire become vegan because of cheese. 

With Matt still in Colorado, I decided this would be a good time for me to try one of these new veggie burgers, which, incidentally, the beef industry is trying to prevent from being called “burgers.” This way, I would not have to commit to buying them again if he liked them and I didn’t. When I went grocery shopping last week, I was all gear up to grab a package of Beyond Burgers and give them a go, but they were completely gone. They are located next to the ground beef in the meat case, which was overflowing with real beef, but all that was left was one, scary looking, package of Beyond Sausage that was open at the corner. 

I decided to read the package. They did not seem all that much better than real sausage, they are high in fat and sodium, though low in cholesterol. I am a package reader, as I have stated before on this page, so I went and got a package of Johnsonville brats to compare. The brats proved to be not much worse, except, of course, you are eating an animal. 

I guess I could have rolled through the Burger King drive-thru for a sampling, but I decided to skip it. After all, I have been perfectly happy replacing ground beef with portobella mushrooms or veggie burgers that show no signs of “blood.” Maybe I will try to get the Beyond Burger one more time, mostly to talk with Olivia about them, but I am skeptical that they can replace the real thing. That would be Beyond Impossible.

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