The burger looks, sizzles, browns, and even bleeds just like any burger you might throw on the barbecue. But this one is entirely plant-based, its key found in a sort of "plant blood" developed by Patrick Brown, a Stanford biochemistry professor and CEO of startup venture Impossible Foods. Brown, who, as the Wall Street Journal puts it, works out of "a sort-of Willy Wonka lab for fake meat," has an ambitious target with his burger: "We want the hard-core beef lovers, the guy who’s basically saying, 'You know, I’m literally on the opposite pole from a vegetarian, in no conceivable universe would I accept any substitute for meat.'"
Is he going to get them? As the Journal's Evelyn M. Rusli explains, the burger, while good, "doesn't quite hit the mark" when held up to gourmet beef offerings. Yet it unmistakably "appears to be something red-blooded that walked around before," she writes. And there are other problems typically found in fake meat: The burger currently clocks in at $20 to make, and fake meat inherently attracts skeptics. "I don’t get the fake meat movement," grouses an NYU nutrition professor. "One of my food rules is 'never eat anything artificial.'" Brown doesn't appear worried: His 3-year-old venture has $75 million in venture capital at its back from the likes of Bill Gates, and he freely acknowledges that the Impossible burger is a work in progress. And that's part of the appeal, he says: "There are limits to what a cow can be—a cow can only be a cow. We can make anything."