Kosher Cheeseburgers Are Now Reality, Thanks to the Impossible Burger

These days, plant-based meat alternatives are doing more than feeding vegans, vegetarians and curious omnivores. They’re giving new culinary options to people who’ve never eaten certain foods before.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the world’s largest kosher certification agency, declared the Impossible Burger kosher in May 2018. That means the Impossible Burger is now recognized as a kosher pareve food. The product may carry the universally-recognized OU symbol and will be included in the OU database registry of more than 200,000 kosher-certified foods.

The major game changer is that OU certification means Orthodox Jews may now eat a cheeseburger — if they wish to — by pairing the Impossible Burger with a kosher cheese.

impossible burger

The Impossible Burger with vegan American cheese. Photo credit: Susan Bird

What Does Kosher Mean?

The word “kosher” is Hebrew, meaning “fit” or “proper” to consume under Jewish dietary rules. Normally, a Jew keeping kosher is not permitted to consume both meat and milk at the same meal.

This prohibition comes from the Torah — Exodus 23:19, Exodus 334:26 and Deuteronomy 14.21 all admonish: “Do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.” Some assert that “it is cruel to cook a baby in the very milk that was intended to nourish it.

The prohibition covers cooking meat with milk, consuming the two together or “deriving benefit” from them. Additionally, Jews must wait six hours between eating meat and consuming dairy.

The prohibition is so absolute that a kosher kitchen must have two separate sets of utensils, pots, pans, dishware and silverware. One set is always used for meat, the other always for dairy. They must be washed separately — preferably in different sinks. Even the sponges and towels used to clean and dry these items must be separate.

Keeping kosher is an important tenet for Orthodox Jews — and these rules have always meant that they could never enjoy a simple cheeseburger. Now that the plant-based Impossible Burger has received OU kosher certification, a realistically meaty cheeseburger need not be forbidden anymore.

Making a Vegan Product Even More Accessible

According to an Impossible Foods press release:

Earlier this year, a Rabbinic Field Representative toured the Impossible Foods’ 67,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oakland, Calif., which produces 500,000 pounds of plant-based meat per month. The rabbi confirmed that all ingredients, processes, and equipment used to make the Impossible Burger are compliant with kosher law, derived from the Torah’s Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

“Getting kosher certification is an important milestone,” Patrick O. Brown, Impossible Foods founder and CEO, explained in the press release. “We want the Impossible Burger to be ubiquitous, and that means it must be affordable and accessible to everyone — including people who have food restrictions for religious reasons.”

Impossible Foods says it will seek Halal certification later this year to make the burger accessible to Muslims too.

The Impossible Burger is made of 100 percent non-animal ingredients — mainly water, wheat protein, potato protein and coconut oil. It tastes so realistic because of heme, a molecule found in animal muscle that causes the characteristic umami taste of meat when cooked.

The Impossible Burger “genetically engineers and ferments yeast to produce a heme protein naturally found in plants, called soy leghemoglobin.” You get all of the meaty taste without the actual meat, thanks to a lot of research and work.

It’s worth noting that Impossible Foods chose to test its special ingredient — soy leghemoglobin — on rats*. They did so in order to satisfy the Food and Drug Administration, should the agency decide to question the safety of that ingredient.

For many vegans, that testing is reason enough to reject the Impossible Burger. Others embrace this burger for the ultimate good it will do in replacing real meat. I’m in the latter camp. I’m vegan. I tried the Impossible Burger and I’ll eat it again. It’s realistic enough to satisfy a meat eater, and that’s a huge accomplishment.

The Impossible Burger is backed by big time investors like Bill Gates and Google Ventures. Right now you can find it in more than 1,600 restaurants across the United States and in Hong Kong. Eventually the company intends to expand its availability to grocery stores.

The future is plant-based. It’s meat without the killing. And it’s vegan, kosher and halal. We can move to a cruelty-free future as soon as we want to. We have the technology. Now we just have to find the global will to get it done.

*Care2 joins with millions of voices around the globe, numerous respected animal advocacy organizations and the convictions of our own members in calling for an end to animal testing and unequivocally refusing to endorse such practices – especially when viable alternatives exist.

Photo Credit: Matias Rengel/Unsplash

61 comments

Julie C
Julie Cannon1 months ago

Thanks for sharing!

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Dave fleming
Dave fleming2 months ago

TFS

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Angela J
Angela J2 months ago

Thanks

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Danii P
Past Member 2 months ago

Thank you

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Danii P
Past Member 2 months ago

Thank you

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DAVID fleming
Dave fleming2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Leo C
Leo C2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R2 months ago

@Clare O. Faye Kellerman writes fiction! HaHa! I don't even have ONE dishwasher.

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Zdzislaw Topor
Zdzislaw Topor2 months ago

Ciekawe, dziękuję.

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