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Impossible Pork will finally be available commercially, starting in restaurants

Impossible Foods is now rolling out its plant-based "pork" product, which it debuted at CES 2020.

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You can finally get your hands on Impossible Pork.

Angela Lang/CNET

Around two years years ago, I stood in the Impossible Foods lab in Redwood City, California, holding a sandwich made with the company's new plant-based Impossible Pork. My hands were shaking as I considered the oddity of consuming a product with the name and flavors of pork -- a meat that's forbidden to me as a Muslim -- but that didn't have any actual pig in it.  

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The flavor was unique and quite savory (colleagues confirmed it did, in fact, taste like the real deal), and the experience was simultaneously off-putting and exciting. Now, Impossible Foods is finally making Impossible Pork available to consumers, giving anyone the opportunity to try the strangely meaty-tasting offering for themselves.

On Thursday, Impossible Pork will launch commercially at Momofuku Ssäm Bar at Pier 17 in New York City. And on Oct. 4, the product will also become available at more than 100 restaurants in Hong Kong, including at popular dim sum chain Tim Ho Wan. It'll arrive in Singapore later this fall. Restaurants in Hong Kong and the US can now order Impossible Pork through major food service distributors.

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It's worth noting that while Impossible Pork was originally designed for halal and kosher certification, the company now says it isn't moving forward with those certifications "as we wish to continue to use the term 'pork' in our product name," and "the authorizing bodies will not certify a product called 'pork.'"

The rollout of Impossible Pork comes after the company's 2016 launch of Impossible Burger, another plant-based meat substitute designed to mimic ground beef. In 2019, Impossible Foods unveiled a new version of Impossible Burger that aims to more closely resemble and taste like real beef, and teamed up with Burger King to sell the Impossible Whopper. Burger King also began offering Impossible Sausage in its Impossible Croissan'wich last year, but the product has since been discontinued. Earlier this summer, Impossible Foods launched Impossible Chicken Nuggets.

Impossible Foods is one of many companies in on the plant-based craze. Competitor Beyond Meat also sells plant-based ground meat and sausages, and in 2019 teamed up with KFC to offer plant-based chicken. Several other companies offer products like plant-based bacon, sausages, meatballs and even fish

When we spoke to Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown in late 2019, he said the company's goal was to make Impossible Pork available globally and "particularly in Asia," given the meat's popularity there. Now, Impossible Foods says more than half of 200 consumers surveyed in Hong Kong said they prefer Impossible Pork over ground pork from pigs, following blind taste tests. 

New York chef David Chang was the first to launch the Impossible Burger at his Momofuku Nishi hotspot in 2016, and debuted Impossible Chicken Nuggets earlier this month at his at his fried chicken restaurant Fuku. Now, he'll also be introducing Impossible Pork to consumers at Momofuku Ssäm Bar through the restaurant's popular spicy rice cakes dish, which will now be served with Impossible Pork Ragu.

Impossible Foods is touting the environmental benefits of plant-based meat, saying in a statement that Impossible Pork is "vastly more sustainable than ground pork from pigs, using 81-85% less water, 66-82% less land and generating 73-77% less greenhouse gas emissions." In 2019, Brown also said reducing the need for crops that are fed to pigs means cutting back on fertilizer and pesticides, which is both better for the environment and could ultimately lead to lower prices.

"Right now, we're still a small startup," Brown said at the time. "We don't have economies of scale. But our cost of production is steadily dropping and fast. So we expect before too long to be beating the pig on price, the cow on price and so forth."

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Impossible Pork is launching in restaurants around the US and Hong Kong, including at popular dim sum chain Tim Ho Wan.

Impossible Pork

So, what's Impossible Pork made of? The main protein is soy, and the major fat sources are sunflower oil and coconut oil. Impossible Pork also includes amino acids, vitamins and sugars, as well as heme, an iron-containing compound found in all living organisms, which catalyzes the flavor chemistry to produce meaty flavors and aromas. It's certified gluten-free, and there are no nitrates, animal hormones or antibiotics. 

There have been some slight changes to the consistency and flavor of Impossible Pork since CNET first tried it; Impossible Foods scientist Laura Kliman said in a statement, "Since previewing Impossible Pork at CES 2020, we've improved the texture, lowered the sodium and made some other minor changes to ensure springiness and flavor." In fact, whereas Impossible Pork was initially reported as having 420 milligrams of sodium, it now contains 290 milligrams.

The product boasts fewer calories than conventional 70% lean pork from animals (220 calories vs. 350 calories in a 4-ounce serving), less total fat (13 grams vs. 32 grams) and saturated fat (7 grams vs. 11 grams), and no cholesterol (compared with 86 milligrams in regular pork). Both Impossible and traditional pork have about the same amount of protein: 18 grams for the plant-based version and 17 for the animal one.

If that's enough to sell you on the product, you finally have the chance to give it a try -- whether you're looking to cut meat out of your diet, try something new or, like me, get a taste for something that's typically off-limits. Fair warning: You may have a hard time convincing yourself it's not the real thing, which just makes it all the more intriguing. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.