Air New Zealand first airline to serve Impossible Burger, the vegetarian patty that 'bleeds'

Air New Zealand has become the first airline in the world to serve passengers the Impossible Burger, a plant-based product that mimics beef that took the US by storm when it launched two years ago.

The faux-burger, so realistic it even appears to "bleed", is a far cry from your run-of-the-mill veggie burger and has fast been making its way into restaurants around America - nearly 2,500 of them thus far.   

Air New Zealand will be serving it to business class passengers only, on flights from Los Angeles to Auckland until late October, after which it will be reviewing the burger's popularity.

The Impossible Burger was seven years in the making, led by Stanford biochemistry professor Patrick O. Brown and backed by a number of major investors, Bill Gates being one.

Brown's goal was to produce a burger that would appeal to vegetarians who had given up meat on moral grounds but still yearned for the real thing.

The secret, he discovered, was creating "plant blood" from an iron-rich molecule known as heme, which is found in both animals and plants.

When the plant burger made with heme is slapped on to a grill, it turns from red to brown, like one made from beef. It also tastes identical, 
according to Brown and his 50-strong team of chefs, farmers and scientists. The rest of the ingredients include wheat, coconut oil and potatoes.


This writer has sampled an Impossible Burger in Nashville, and can attest to its almost scary likeness with real beef in taste and texture, right down to the red juice in the centre.


Air New Zealand is well-renowned as being a progressive, forward-thinking airline and last year was crowned Airline of the Year for the fifth consecutive year by aviation experts at

And it's not the only brand to be leading the charge when it comes to promoting vegetarianism.

Sir Richard Branson has stopped eating red meat for environmental reasons. "The more cattle you have in the world, the more the rainforests are going to disappear, acre by acre," he reasoned.

Branson, too, has invested in high-tech meat alternative producers, Beyond Meat being one of them. "I spend a lot of time on Necker Island serving Beyond Meat burgers to rabid meat-eaters and them telling me, as the juice drips from their chin, that it's the best burger they've ever eaten," he said.


Whether Virgin Atlantic, and indeed other major airlines, will follow suit in serving products like the Impossible Burger on board remains to be seen. But the industry, it would appear, are ready for it.

National government statistics released last year revealed that the demand for meat alternatives has shot up, and a recent report from Allied Market Research predicts that the substitute meat industry will reach global sales of $7bn by 2020.

It would certainly mark an improvement for disgruntled passengers including British journalist Steve Hogarty, whose tweet last year on the pitiful vegetarian "meal" he was served aboard a flight with Avianca, Colombia's national airline, went viral.

The meal in question? An apple and a pear wrapped in clingfilm, served with a knife and fork.

The Telegraph, London

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