Is the Impossible Burger Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

July 29, 2023

Identifying whether or not the Impossible Burger is vegan can be a challenging endeavor. 

This difficulty often arises from manufacturers’ knack for cloaking the true nature and sources of their ingredients. 

Fear not, as this article aims to unearth the truth, arming you with the knowledge needed to sustain your compassionate vegan lifestyle.

Is the Impossible Burger Vegan?

The Impossible Burger, one of the famous Impossible Foods products, is considered vegan in terms of its ingredients. However, its vegan status has been a topic of debate within the vegan community due to past animal testing carried out by Impossible Foods.

The Impossible Burger does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. Its meaty flavor, appealing to both meat lovers and vegans, comes from an array of plant-based ingredients. 

Some of the key non-vegan but confusing ingredients one might question, such as “natural flavors” or “soy leghemoglobin,” are actually plant based. For example, soy leghemoglobin is a protein derived from genetically engineered yeast, which imparts the savory taste that meat eaters love.

Is the Impossible Burger Cruelty-Free?

Although the Impossible Burger is vegan, it is not entirely cruelty-free. During the developmental stages, Impossible Foods conducted animal testing to verify the safety of soy leghemoglobin, one of the burger’s key ingredients. This testing involved using animal test subjects, which was a source of controversy and pushback from the Vegan Society and other activists.

What Is the Impossible Burger Made Of?

The Impossible Burger is a plant-based product that was designed to mimic the taste, texture, and appearance of a traditional beef burger. This groundbreaking innovation was created by Impossible Foods, a company based in Redwood City, California. 

The primary goal of the Impossible Burger is to offer a sustainable, environmentally friendly alternative to traditional meat products without compromising on flavor. Its unique taste and texture come from a combination of several plant-based ingredients, including:

  • Water
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Coconut oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Natural flavors
  • 2% or less of: potato protein, methylcellulose, yeast extract, cultured dextrose, food starch modified, soy leghemoglobin, salt, soy protein isolate, mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), zinc gluconate, thiamine hydrochloride (vitamin B1), sodium ascorbate (vitamin C), niacin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12


Water is the most abundant ingredient in the Impossible Burger, and is responsible for helping blend and distribute the other ingredients evenly. Water is universally vegan and is sourced from the local water supply where the burgers are made.

Soy protein concentrate

Soy protein concentrate is the primary protein source in the Impossible Burger. Made from defatted soybeans, it provides a high-quality, complete protein that is comparable to the protein found in animal products. Soy protein is entirely vegan and gives the Impossible Burger its meaty texture.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil contributes to the juicy mouthfeel associated with traditional beef burgers. Extracted from the meat of mature coconuts, this plant-based oil is vegan and provides a saturated fat that remains solid at room temperature, similar to animal fat.

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is used for its high smoke point, making the Impossible Burger suitable for various cooking methods like grilling and pan-frying. This oil is extracted from sunflower seeds and is completely vegan.

Natural flavors

The natural flavors in the Impossible Burger are derived from plant sources. They help to enhance the burger’s overall flavor profile. While natural flavors can sometimes be derived from animal sources in other foods, the ones used in the Impossible Burger are entirely vegan.

Potato protein

Potato protein is used to give the Impossible Burger its firm exterior when cooked. Extracted from potatoes, this ingredient is entirely vegan.


Methylcellulose, a form of dietary fiber derived from vegetable cellulose, is used as a binder in the Impossible Burger. It helps keep the burger’s shape and texture. Methylcellulose is vegan.

Yeast extract

Yeast extract is used to enhance the savory flavor of the Impossible Burger. It’s a vegan ingredient made by breaking down yeast cells.

Cultured dextrose

Cultured dextrose is a food additive used to extend the shelf life of the Impossible Burger. It’s made by fermenting dextrose (sugar) with a specific culture of bacteria and is vegan.

Modified food starch

Modified food starch is used as a thickening agent. It is derived from plant sources and is completely vegan.

Soy leghemoglobin

Soy leghemoglobin, or “heme,” is the key ingredient that gives the Impossible Burger its distinctive “meaty” flavor. It’s produced from genetically modified yeast and is the ingredient that makes the Impossible Burger “bleed” like a beef burger when it’s cooked. It is vegan.


Salt enhances the flavor of the Impossible Burger. It’s vegan and sourced from various salt mines or sea water.

Soy protein isolate

Soy protein isolate is another form of soy protein that provides a significant amount of the protein in the Impossible Burger. It’s made from defatted soybean flakes and is entirely vegan.

Mixed tocopherols (vitamin E)

Mixed tocopherols are a form of vitamin E, used as a natural preservative in the Impossible Burger. Derived from vegetable oils, they are vegan.


The vitamins listed above are all essential vitamins and minerals added to improve the nutritional profile of the Impossible Burger. They are all synthetically produced and vegan.

Every ingredient in the Impossible Burger is carefully chosen for its role in mimicking the taste and texture of a beef burger, while remaining completely plant based and vegan.

Vegan Alternatives to Impossible Burger

If you’re looking for alternatives to the Impossible Burger, there are several other plant-based meat options on the market. 

The Beyond Burger from Beyond Meat is a popular choice, and other products like vegan burgers from smaller manufacturers are also available. 

Just make sure to check the ingredients and company practices of these food brands to ensure they align with your ethical choices.


In conclusion, the Impossible Burger is vegan in terms of ingredients, but its status as cruelty-free is contentious due to past animal testing. 

It’s made from a variety of plant-based ingredients, each playing a role in emulating the texture, taste, and appearance of a traditional burger. While it offers a choice for those seeking to reduce meat consumption, other fully vegan and cruelty-free food options are available on the market for those with ethical concerns. 

As always, it’s essential to research and choose products that align with your values and lifestyle.