“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert took vegan meat to task in last night’s episode. A tongue-in-cheek commercial spoofed the popular Impossible Burger and the buzz over plant-based meat in general.
According to Colbert, plant-based burgers like Burger King’s Impossible Whopper made from Impossible meat, are “the biggest” food trend in America right now. He’s not wrong; sales of plant-based meat are on the rise. Restaurants saw a 268 percent increase in vegan meat sales just last year. The category is expected to surpass $85 billion by 2030. Fast-food chains are leading the trend. Carl’s Jr., White Castle, and A&W have seen significant sales spikes when adding vegan burger options. Last month KFC launched a test run of vegan chicken at an Atlanta location. With a line around the block, the restaurant sold a week’s worth in just five hours.
But Colbert wasn’t interested in the viability of the vegan meat market. He was interested in making fun of it — especially the realistic meatiness of non-meat meat.
The show ran a commercial for a product called “The Implausible Burger.” Like the popular Impossible and Beyond Burgers, which both look, cook, and taste like beef, Colbert’s Implausible Burger is also realistically meaty.
‘Probably Not Meat’
Implausible Burgers, the commercial posits, are “probably not” meat. But unsuspecting diners have assumed they are in fact, meat-free. Ghastly looks appear on their faces when the announcer tells them that the burgers may actually not be meat-free. “Every Implausible Burger exists in an unknowable quantum state,” the announcer explains. “It’s like Schrodinger’s cat — and may contain some cat.”
The spot isn’t entirely fiction — it touches on the growing awareness surrounding meat’s climate and health issues. ”No one likes all the problems with eating animals, so the Implausible Burger allows you to plausibly believe that you aren’t.”
The commercial touches on common problems with meat, like salmonella. The non-meat burger is “so believably” meaty it can “even give you salmonella,” according to the announcer.
This isn’t Colbert’s first time spoofing Impossible Foods, which just made its supermarket debut earlier this week. Last month, in the show’s “Personal Space” skit, Colbert attempted to feed comedian Ricky Gervais an Impossible Burger while the two were face-to-face inside a cardboard box.
Gervais is a longtime vegetarian. So is Colbert’s former late-night colleague, former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart. After leaving the Comedy Central network in 2015, Stewart, now a vegan, retired to New Jersey where he runs an animal sanctuary alongside his wife Tracey.