It’s one thing to order your meat rare, but it’s a whole other question when the “meat” on your plate never started out mooing. For those who enjoy an extra rare protein, is it possible to enjoy that same level of doneness when eating plant-based meat alternatives?
Restaurants often have warnings at the bottom of their menus stating that consuming raw meat can be dangerous and that the diner should do so at their own risk; by contrast, people enjoy platters of raw vegetables all the time. Logic follows that “meat” made from vegetables would be perfectly fine to enjoy raw, right?
At every cookout, my godmother requests that whoever is behind the grill serve her what is essentially a raw skirt steak. She wants it cooked on one side for about five seconds, flipped, and cooked on the other side for the same brief amount of time. She has requested the same preparation at restaurants, but many refuse to accommodate it.
To each their own, I guess, but pretty much everyone around my godmother is constantly worried she might contract food poisoning. Just in case you’re anything like my godmother (bless her heart and stomach), there’s a scientific explanation for why you can’t just go around biting into uncooked cuts of beef.
Raw meats, whether chicken, beef, or pork, can carry harmful bacteria like salmonella or E. coli, which can lead to food poisoning. Food safety expert Jeff Nelken told Men’s Health that, while many people assume raw or undercooked chicken is the only meat that carries risk (for salmonella), pork and beef have a high chance of carrying E. coli. Meat has to reach a “safe minimum internal temperature” in order to kill any potentially harmful bacteria, explains the FDA, which is why consuming it raw is so risky.
However, some people like to live on the edge. That’s why you see dishes like beef tartare being served at nicer restaurants. Masterclass explains that beef tartare—which generally consists of raw, minced beef, capers, sometimes a raw egg, and Worcestershire sauce—is pretty safe to eat as long as you follow certain guidelines. For example, only use the highest quality beef, make sure the tartare is chilled at all times, and eat it immediately upon being served. No matter what, there is always some risk associated with eating raw meat or eggs, but high-end restaurants (and those who dine at them) are often willing to take that risk.
The short answer is yes, you can eat Impossible “meat” without cooking it. The better answer is you probably don’t want to.
“Our products were made to be cooked, in order to achieve the best sensory, texture and visual experience,” a spokesperson for Impossible Foods told The Takeout via email. “Impossible products should be handled with the same caution as any other raw protein, and it’s important to remember that there are always risks to consuming raw or undercooked foods.”
Although it’s explicitly recommended that people cook Impossible Foods products, the spokesperson also said that chefs have successfully made tartare using Impossible products, following many of the same guidelines set out for serving the best animal-based version.
So, it’s not impossible to enjoy this plant-based product in its raw form. It just might not be the best-tasting option, since the product is designed to be enjoyed with a bit of Maillard reaction. If you happen to share the same love of raw protein that my godmother does, maybe a nice Impossible tartare could satisfy your carnivorous cravings; just practice the same common sense you would with any food, and don’t leave it sitting out too long.