Disney has partnered with Impossible Foods to begin offering the company’s plant-based meat alternatives at restaurants across Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, and Disney Cruise Line. The news is a huge boon for the alternative meat industry generally, and for Impossible in particular. Getting the nod from The Magic Kingdom is a massive endorsement of Impossible’s products and could result in millions of new customers for the brand who otherwise might not get to sample it as soon.
"There's a level of trust associated with Disney," Impossible’s president Dennis Woodside told CNN Business. "If Disney put us on the menu, then people are more likely to try it." A number of Impossible-based meals — including an “Impossible Cheeseburger Mac & Cheese” — are listed on the menus for Disney California’s Adventure Food and Wine Festival 2020 that kicks off tomorrow, though we’d wager more Californians are familiar with Impossible’s wares than, say, Floridians, who may get greater benefit from the partnership.
Not the first, but the most famous — Impossible’s products aren’t the first vegetarian- and vegan-friendly items to show up at Disney properties, but they are some of the best known. Last September, Disney announced it was adding “hundreds of plant-based dishes” to menus at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. Getting Disney on board, though, means other theme parks are sure to do likewise, which would be good for Impossible and its nearest rival, Beyond Meat.
Both Impossible and Beyond have already signed partnerships with fast-food chains like Burger King, White Castle and McDonald’s, and Impossible showed off a new, pork-alternative at CES 2020 in Las Vegas in January, suggesting there’s plenty of innovation to come yet in the plant-based faux-meat sector.
Trying to convert the carnivores — Rather than simply offering options for consumers who’ve already made the switch to plant-based diets, Impossible says it wants to convert meat-eaters who don’t want to give up the experience of eating meat. The company argues its products can provide an incredible convincing simulacrum of meat’s smell, texture, taste, and other properties while being far less resource-intensive and environmentally harmful.
There’s one key thing to remember when eating an Impossible burger or veggie chili, though: it’s almost certainly no healthier for you than a regular burger or chili con carne. Nutritionally, it’s still junk food. But it’s unambiguously better for bovines, and unlike bovines, Impossible’s food products don’t pump out greenhouse gasses from their posteriors. There are some aspects of meat we really don't need to replicate.