Burger King jumps on meat-free bandwagon, launches vegan 'Whopper' burger

WATCH: Burger King introduces a Vegan Whopper

Burger King is trialling a new plant-based version of its classic Whopper as the appetite for vegan products continues to grow.

Analysts say growing demand for healthier food is one reason people are seeking plant-based meats. For years, Burger King has offered a veggie burger on the menu at its thousands of restaurants, but it was not marketed as anything even remotely resembling a juicy, tender slab of meat.

It has been described as the Whopper's "twin" by the burger's manufacturer, and contains 17g of protein and zero cholesterol.

This meatless burger has "slightly fewer" calories than the original Whopper, CNN reported, and "unlike veggie burgers, Impossible burger patties are created to mimic the look and texture of meat when cooked".

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Impossible Foods' mission statement claims that "using animals to make meat is a prehistoric and destructive technology" and using meat-free alternatives is important for the environment.

"I have high expectations that it's going to be big business, not just a niche product", Burger King chief marketing officer Fernando Machado said, according to the Times.

The Impossible burger is made of heme from the roots of the soybean plant. It's also a way to encourage vegan and vegetarian eaters to check out Burger King. Nestlé will roll out a similar plant-based burger, called the Awesome Burger, in the United States under the Sweet Earth brand later this year. Burger King will still put mayonnaise on the Impossible Whopper, so it won't be a completely vegan option. The Impossible Burger attempts to avoid the health issues and ethical concerns related to meat consumption while producing just a fraction of the related greenhouse gases. Finazzo said the extra cost will "more than offset the cost" of the Impossible protein. Meanwhile, the US startup also plans on selling meatless burgers in supermarkets across the USA this year, reported sources. Among their patrons are White Castle and Fatburger.

Cover image sourced from Burger King. It's also gluten-free, replacing wheat with soy protein.

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