Impossible Meatless Burger by virtualtimecapsule on Sketchfab

The 21st century has brought light to the inventions of many new objects, all serving greater purposes. These new creations are used and seen in a realm of different domains. While many of these innovations serve new purposes, some of these creations refine and improve older objects. In the Media Studies and Digital Cultures program, students have constructed a virtual time capsule to house these objects. Each object showcased in this collection is symbolic of a distinct, overarching theme. These varying themes include technology, inclusivity, entertainment, wellness, and finally, environmentalism. Regarding the theme of environmentalism, one specific industry that has been highly creative in developing new methods to improve the quality of an object is the food industry. The development of different foods is critical to society because it’s how humans nourish themselves. However, this industry has been notably problematic in the past decade. One of the main issues regarding the food industry is the production of meat products and the effects this has on the environment. In order to combat these consequences, food scientists have set forth to find innovative ways to create products that cause less harm. As a result, the meatless burger, also known as the “Impossible Burger”, was created. 

The Impossible Burger was invented in 2011 by Patrick O. Brown (Impossible, 2011). This product is identical in appearance to a real beef hamburger patty. Likewise, the product tastes, smells, and cooks exactly like beef. However, the Impossible Burger has absolutely no trace of any meat. The creators chose to call it an Impossible Burger because it is so much like real meat, that consumers could not tell the difference. The meatless patty showcased in the collection sits on a cast iron skillet. The object itself is 15,27 cm x 22,86 cm. The weight is .454 kg. As for the material of the object, it is composed of a range of plant-based substances. The mixture of these ingredients was perfected to replicate the flavor and consistency of real beef.

The Impossible Burger serves many new purposes specifically relevant to challenges of the 21st century. Specifically, this object helps aid issues regarding climate change, animal cruelty, and health concerns. The digital collection showcases a series of objects that have modern-day significance and the Impossible Burger fits in perfectly because it has been critical for improving the food industry’s destructive methods of production. 


The general theme of the Impossible Burger lies in the realm of environmentalism. According to Greenpeace UK, the meat industry is largely responsible for the worsening of climate change (2020). The process of farming animals and transporting meat products to consumers is extremely detrimental to the planet because it releases greenhouse gasses. Specifically, “meat accounts for 60% of all greenhouse gasses from food production” (Milman, 2021). These greenhouse gasses are released in a number of ways. Firstly, the technology used to farm animals releases loads of carbon. Secondly, animals like cows release methane which further contributes to global warming. The Impossible Burger is important because it omits both the use of farming tools and animals. Created in a lab, this food product is composed of “soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, potato protein, methylcellulose, yeast extract, salt, gums, and water and additives, including vitamin B12, zinc, vitamin B6, thiamin (B1) and niacin” (Winslett, 2020). Removing the key elements that cause global warming, Impossible burgers help improve the condition of the environment. Precisely this food product “uses 87 percent less water, takes 96 percent less land, and has 89 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than a beef burger” (Hayek et al., 2021). These statistics showcase the value that the Impossible Burger has. Consumers still receive a product that tastes, smells, and cooks like real beef, but they forgo the negative effects that eating real meat has on the environment.

animal cruelty

The overarching theme of the Impossible Burger is environmentalism, however this object has other important implications. Another benefit to this 21st century creation is the transition away from animal-cruelty. According to the Guardian, “industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history” (Harari, 2015). Not only are animals brutally slaughtered for the use of meat products, but they are treated extremely poorly on the farms. Cows, pigs, and chickens are crowded into extremely packed spaces and suffer immensely before they are killed. By opting for a meat-free option like the Impossible Burger, consumers are actively reducing the need for animals to be harmed and killed. This impact of the Impossible Burger is specifically relevant to the 21st century because modern technology has made it possible to avoid the consumption of meat. In past decades, it was challenging to receive adequate amounts of protein without eating meat. However, inventions like the Impossible Burger can provide consumers with enough protein to avoid animal cruelty in industrial farming. 

a meatless diet and human health

Lastly, the Impossible Burger benefits 21st century culture because it positively impacts people’s health. The vast growth of the human population has created a greater demand for food products. Because there is such a great demand, food production companies have prioritized efficiency and speed of production over the quality of production. Specifically in the meat industry, animals are injected with synthetic hormones to promote weight gain. This is done in order to make the animal grow quicker and expedite the farming process (Soil Association). These hormones are extremely harmful for humans to consume. Likewise, animals are fed crops that contain GMOs (FDA, 2022). When humans consume animal products, they are also receiving strong traces of these GMO products. Consequently, researchers have found a strong link between eating meat and the development of “heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia and other serious illnesses” (Campbell, 2021). Consuming a meatless product like the Impossible Burger allows humans to avoid harmful chemicals and improve their health. The benefits to a meatless diet are endless but some key elements are promoting a diet richer in nutrients and a decreased chance for cancer (Petre, 2021). Overall, the Impossible Burger is a critical invention within 21st century health culture.  

final thoughts

The virtual time capsule created by the Media Studies and Digital Culture’s 2022 class aims to showcase objects that have a strong historical relevance to the 21st century. The Impossible Burger perfectly highlights the advancements in modern technology that allow humans to consume an identical replication of beef, without any meat involved. Two major issues of the 21st century involve the growing rate of global warming as well as the increased concern in human health. Therefore, the Impossible Burger serves to combat both of these issues while still providing consumers with a pleasurable culinary experience. While meat consumption and meat farming has been a huge part of society since the beginning of time, this modern generation has the knowledge and research to address the problems regarding these processes. Creating a place to archive this object will be interesting for future generations because it marks the beginning of a pro-environmental food movement. Technology will only keep expanding and it will be interesting to observe how scientists continue to find ways to make food products better for the environment and health of humans in the years to come.


Name: Impossible "Meatless" Burger 

3D Model

Creator: Anna Lewis

Date: 26-01-2022

Place: Los Angeles, California

Themes: Environmentalism

Captured with iPhone 13, lightbox, markers

Processed with Agisoft Metashape Professional Software run on run on macOS Sierra


Physical Object

Size: 15,27 cm x 22,86 cm 

Weight: .454 kg

Material: cast iron and ingredients of the product  


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Guardian News and Media. (2021, March 2). Eating meat ‘raises risk of heart disease, diabetes and pneumonia’. The Guardian. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from 

Guardian News and Media. (2021, September 13). Meat accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production, study finds. The Guardian. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from 

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