Rachel is a lifestyle writer and vegetarian who enjoys experimenting with new recipes and food combinations.
Plants: The New Beef?
When it comes to veggie and plant-based burgers, it seems that people either love or hate the idea. Though veggie burgers have experienced limited success in the past, modern food technology is slowly changing the burger landscape. Once a fringe food enjoyed only by vegans and vegetarians, meat eaters around the world are coming to embrace the veggie patty.
Modern plant-based meat substitutes are able to provide the taste and texture of meat for those who crave it, while also allowing vegetarians and vegans to enjoy something that resembles more traditional fare.
Some manufacturers have even gone as far as creating veggie burgers that "bleed"—an illusion created by the addition of red beet juice. Besides appearance, the taste, smell, and texture of a veggie burger have to be taken into consideration. It takes an expertly crafted blend of ingredients and spices to win over a diehard meat lover.
The Taste Test
As someone who became a vegetarian at age 27, I consider myself well versed in the most desirable traits of a burger—thick, juicy, flavorful, slightest hint of pink in the middle. While not every brand in the veggie game has mastered the meatless patty just yet, there are some very tasty options currently available at your local supermarket.
Creating vegetarian meals takes a little more imagination, especially when every dish you've ever learned to cook is meat-based. In my quest for delicious and satisfying vegetarian options, I have sampled over a dozen different meatless burger brands. Here's how they stacked up.
1. Impossible Burger
Impossible Foods, the makers of the burger, claim that they spent five years coming up with something that resembles the taste, texture, and smell of a beef burger. This burger does, in fact, sizzle and bleed just like a beef patty. Even though it’s plant-based, it will cost you 220 calories. Ten of its thirteen grams of fat are saturated fats—not great for the waistline, but it makes the tastebuds happy.
At the time this article was originally written in 2018, the Impossible Burger ranked at #2 due to its scarcity. Now that it's so widely available in 2021, it easily takes over the #1 spot. I would recommend this for a meat eater who is curious about veggie burgers and looking to ease into a not-so-dramatic veggie option. The Impossible Burger has come to be known as the greatest rival of Beyond Meat burgers—and for good reason.
The Impossible Burger has the most meat-like texture, hands down. I enjoy mine with some sharp cheddar, BBQ sauce, and jalapeños. Yum!
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2. Beyond Meat Beast Burger
I initially decided to try this burger after watching some video reviews of Beyond Meat, a new brand at the time, which is now one of the biggest names in plant-based foods.
The Beast Burger patties are thicker than a lot of other veggie patties, and boast a whopping 23g of protein. (Beware, though, veggie burgers are not without fats!)
I cooked the patties in a skillet, and the smell filled the room immediately. It smelled like well-seasoned steak on the grill. The flavor absolutely shocked me! When combined with lettuce, tomato, and other condiments, I think this burger could fool most meat eaters out there. I enjoy it on sesame seed or brioche buns, depending on the style of burger I'm going for.
The texture very closely matches beef, though it is a bit softer. With such a great smell and flavor, though, you won't notice at all.
Beyond Meat sells their standard patties in a 2-pack, which costs around $6. The standard patty offers the same meat-like smell and smoky flavor as the Beast Burger.
3. Dr. Praeger's Black Bean Quinoa Veggie Burger
Arguably the most modest burger on the list, Dr. Praeger's Black Bean Quinoa Veggie Burger is widely available in supermarkets nationwide. Dr. Praeger's might sounds like a familiar name, given that they've been in the natural foods biz since the early 90's. I, myself, passed over the inconspicuous white and yellow box in the grocery store freezer many times. This veggie burger really surprised me!
I must admit, the only reason I bought this burger the first time was because the supermarket had run out of Beyond Meat burgers. This patty cooks up quick in a medium temperature skillet. It didn't have much of a smell, but I enjoyed seeing actual vegetable pieces in the patty.
The texture is what gives this burger away as a meat imposter. The pieces of corn, peppers, and black beans make for a crumbly patty. You'll need a piece of melted cheese to hold it all together. The taste, however, is very good. The spice blend leans heavily towards Southwestern flavors.
This one won't fool a meat eater, but it's a great addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet.
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© 2018 Rachel Hezel