Being vegan, plant based, Whole Food Plant Based, or vegetarian can all mean drastically different things. One of the biggest places that I notice this is when talking about veggie burgers.
I’m not here to tell you which burger is right for you. There are so many definitions of the word healthy, and so many reasons that someone might (or might not) want to eat a specific type of burger. I’m not here to tell you which type of burger is healthiest–that’s something for your doctor to help you with. I’d like to bring awareness to the different types of burgers and exactly what they are, as I’m learning that this is a confusing topic for many.
Plant Based vs Veggie Burgers
Plant based burgers (typically made from pea proteins and lots of science-y ingredients that I can’t pronounce) are meat alternative burgers–like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger. They’re products that were created to be a replacement for traditional animal burgers. They have similar protein content, texture, smell, and even taste. Some of the meatless burgers taste very similar to real burgers (the Impossible Burger is the best in our opinion) and some aren’t the tastiest.
Veggie burgers are burgers made with vegetables–typically mushrooms, beans, peas, and carrots. These burgers don’t have the same protein content as traditional burgers, but they are filled with real vegetables. Veggie burgers aren’t competing with regular beef patties–nobody is going to be “tricked” into thinking that a veggie burger is a beef burger.
We invited several meat eating friends over and grilled up several types of plant based and veggie burgers–here is what we thought!
Plant Based Meat Alternatives
If you’re vegan, WFPB, vegetarian, concerned about the environment or animal consumption, this is something you might be interested in. These burgers are the ones you’re looking for if you don’t eat meat (for whatever reason) but want a traditional “burger.”
In order of preference, these are the plant based burgers that we tried:
The Impossible Burger was the clear winner–for taste, smell, texture, and ease of cooking. It tasted most like a traditional ground beef hamburger and didn’t have any smells that were off putting. If this burger sounds familiar, it’s because fast food giant Burger King uses this brand for their Impossible Whopper sandwich.
dr. Praeger’s was a good burger. We couldn’t pinpoint what the difference was between that and real meat products, but there was something small.
The Beyond Burger is another popular option, but we think these smelled a little strange when uncooked and needed to be seasoned before putting them on the grill. When we have made chili with the Beyond meat, we could taste the difference in the end product. These are the most widely available meat substitutes, we have found–Costco even has them. The texture is pretty close to regular meat, but the smell was not great.
The O Organics brand (from Albertsons stores) was our least favorite, but we all agreed that if it was the only option it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad burger. But since we had others to compare side by side, one had to come in last.
These burgers are made with vegetables. Like I mentioned above, there is no “tricking” someone into thinking that these are meat burgers–they’re not. But they have a place, for sure, and can be delicious.
We tended to like the burgers with actual chunky vegetables in them best–some are pretty blended up and had a mushy texture when cooked.
In order of preference:
We loved the Quinoa & Kale burgers from O Organics. This company has several great veggie burger options: Sweet potato and Mushroom are the other two that we liked. They’re full of chunky vegetables and feel satisfying to eat.
dr. Praeger’s Veggie burgers were delicious too! We really liked these, though they were a little mushier than the O Organics ones. They had chunks of vegetables in addition to blended vegetables to help hold them together. We really liked that they were thicker and hearty. They have a lot of different varieties in the stores too–definitely a bonus.
O Organics Black Bean & Veggie were good, but there is a definitely texture difference between a veggie burger and a black bean burger–it’s more of a blended burger with a few chunks. There had to be a last place, but honestly I would eat these again for sure.
Let’s answer all of the Frequently Asked Questions I get about these burgers:
It depends on your diet and what you’re looking for. While plant based burgers have less saturated fat than traditional meat burgers, they have a lot more ingredients. Some view this as less healthy. Again, it all depends why you’re looking to eat a plant based option–are you trying to avoid heart disease, extra ingredients, meat?
When we grilled up multiple brands, the Impossible Burger was the clear winner because of the texture, color, and flavor. It was most like red meat.
True veggie burgers are made from vegetables and a small amount of binders. Plant based burgers are meat substitutes and often have a lot of manmade ingredients. I consider veggie burgers much healthier than any meat alternative–plant based or made with soy protein.
Again, this depends on why you’re eating the plant based burger and what type of diet you’re following.
Veggies are never bad for you! If you’re looking for a way to get more vegetables into your diet, true veggie burgers are a great way to do that. Once you add in extra ingredients, preservatives, and meat substitutes, you start falling into a different territory with veggie burgers and can easily consume empty calories.
We love the O Organics line of veggie burgers as well as dr. Praeger’s–both use real vegetables and are delicious and colorful.
Again, the best veggie burger or the best plant based burger for you really has to do with why you’re choosing to eat them instead of a real burger. I believe that eating minimally processed foods is the healthiest thing for any body, but sometimes this isn’t possible. I recently cut meat and eggs out of my diet for health reasons and have found that when I’m craving a hamburger, using a plant based burger as a substitute works for me. I only do this every few months, and feel good about eating them that often. I often make veggie burgers when my family has hamburgers for dinner, but since I like veggie burgers I don’t feel deprived when I do this.