Back to the Future

The Impossible Burger with fries available at all Red Robin locations.

On Saturday night, Jennifer and I went to Red Robin, a nationwide chain, for the first time ever. Endless soda refills, bottomless fries, a roll of paper towels on every table, music playing, walls decorated with images that scream Americana (Einstein sticking out his tongue; a woman on the boardwalk rollerskating while holding a boombox), and families with children spilling their cokes and falling off their chairs (literally). It is situated in a mall no less, next door to Sears, with high school kids hanging out in small groups. Going there felt like stepping back in time to my own adolescence in the 1980s, even though, ironically, I was there to taste the future.

Red Robin recently started selling the Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger that is reputed to match the taste, texture, look (it “bleeds”), and mouth feel of cow’s meat. And so while Jennifer and I have both been vegan for nearly three decades, we were able to go to a traditional diner, at a traditional mall, and order a hamburger, fries, and a soda — an iconic American meal — just like everyone else. (I also ordered a side of steamed broccoli out of guilt, which was most un-American, I admit). And I must say, the meal was outstanding.

Of course, it’s been almost 30 years since I’ve had cow’s meat, but in grilling the waiter (pun intended), we were told that customers regularly report that they can’t taste the difference. (Burger King officials recently said the same thing and announced that they will nationally roll out an Impossible Whopper by the end of the year.)

It looks the same, tastes the same, and is increasingly available in the same places, too.

For those of you who still eat animals, the Impossible Burger looks the same and tastes the same (per other meat eaters) and is increasingly available in the same places, too. The only difference is that a cow was not killed to make it. If there is no Red Robin near you, you can go to White Castle and get Impossible Sliders (White Castle is currently testing vegan cheese to go with them) or wait a couple of months and pop into your neighborhood Burger King. (Click here for other locations.)

If you want to learn ways to seamlessly replace other animal-based products with plant-based alternatives that look the same, taste the same, and are, like the Impossible Burger, just as delicious, read All American Vegan, our award-winning cookbook, and get a taste of what you won’t be missing. It has recipes for everything you would find at an American diner, including fried “chicken,” “tuna” melts, corn dogs on a stick, BLTs, and so much more. (It is available for sale on Amazon by clicking here.)

Me, back in the 1980s, playing bass with the band.

So get on board with a taste of tomorrow, today, and experiment with plant-based eating. Because even if “you guys aren’t ready for that yet, your kids are gonna love it.”


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