By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant
A little bit about me: I’ve been vegan my entire life…and have tried pretty much every vegan product out there. Over the course of my journey, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in the quality of these products, veggie burgers being one of them. No longer do vegan “meats” and “cheeses” deserve the bland and dissatisfying reputation they’ve acquired back from when veganism wasn’t so common. This overview on veggie burgers is a reflection of my personal preferences after trying almost every plant-based product the market has to offer.
Veggie burgers are great meat alternatives for vegans/vegetarians, anyone trying to cut back on meat consumption, or for the average consumer who wants to switch things up. In 2018, there are so many options out there on the market, as well as recipes for homemade veggie patties. Most traditional veggie burgers are made from some combination of beans, tofu, grains, seeds, and vegetables. However, there is now an increasing demand for “mock-meat” burgers, which tend to be higher in protein and contain soy, wheat gluten, or pea protein as the main ingredient. The more traditional grain-based patties do not necessarily aim to mimic a meat patty, but can still be enjoyed as a nutrient-dense and flavorful plant-based option.
Here is a break down of my personal favorite plant-based burgers on the market:
Most realistic “meat” patty: The Beyond Burger
This new plant-based burger has been blowing up in the media due to its almost identical appearance, taste, and texture to a real beef burger (it even bleeds!). This burger is a great choice for fooling meat lovers and is inarguably the most realistically mock-meat on the market. It has a whopping 20 grams of protein, but is also high in fat and calories (which resembles a real beef patty…minus the cholesterol). If you’re switching to veggie burgers for nutritional reasons alone, I’d aim for one of the other version listed below. But if you’re really in the mood for an authentic beef burger, this revolutionary product is a great option.
Less expensive/caloric “meat” burger: Boca Original Vegan Veggie Burgers
Boca burgers are one of my favorite mock-meat options at the grocery store. At only 70 calories per patty, it has 13 grams of protein, almost no fat, and 16% of your daily fiber intake. Although they aren’t as realistic as the Beyond Burger, this is a less expensive, readily available, and high protein options on the market.
Grain-Based: Hilary’s “World’s Best Veggie Burger”
This brand claims to be the “world’s best veggie burger”…and as far as ingredients goes, this burger is definitely one of the healthiest out there. With lots of whole grains and vegetables, this burger packs in the nutrients, fiber, and flavor (although with less protein at only 4 grams). In my personal experience, I’ve found that this burger tends to lose it’s integrity easily (aka crumble), so I’d recommend crumbling it over a salad, or being particularly careful when transferring it onto a hamburger bun. However, as far as flavor goes, this burger is definitely 10/10.
Grain-based: Amy’s California Veggie Burger
Amy’s brand veggie burgers are simple yet delicious, and easily accessible at most grocery stores. The bulgur wheat and mushrooms give these burgers an amazing meaty and hearty texture. I wouldn’t say they’re able to mimic a beef patty, but I love these burgers as a healthy, plant-based protein source. These burgers are only 150 calories and contain 16% of your daily fiber intake along with 6 grams of protein. Its one downfall is the high level of sodium, but just be mindful of your sodium intake for the rest of the day.
Homemade: Vegan Black Bean Burgers
This is a simple and quick recipe for homemade black bean burgers. The main ingredients are black beans, bread crumbs, flour, vegetables, and spices. You can simply combine all ingredients, form them into patties, and bake them in the oven. This recipe is easily adaptable, so feel free to change up the vegetables and spices as you see fit. Homemade burger patties are a great option for students because they’re cheap to make and freeze well for quick and healthy meals!
My favorite ways to eat veggie burgers are crumbled up on a salad, sliced inside of a wrap, or placed inside of a sandwich.
Veggie burgers can be used to substitute or mimic meat, but are also enjoyable as a nutrient dense, flavorful addition to any meal. Brands such as Beyond Meat are revolutionizing the plant-based meat industry, which is much needed as vegan and vegetarian diets increase in popularity. If you’re in a pinch, veggie burgers are great for quick lunches and dinners. They aren’t just for vegans either; anyone will benefit from incorporating plant-based burgers into their diet.