The summer barbeque is one of the greatest joys of the season, but for the plant-based among us, a cookout is often lacking the main course. Or that was then. Now, the choices in vegan burgers are growing faster than ever, and the products nearing perfection. Sales of vegan burgers are outpacing most other food categories and what is interesting is that 93 percent of people buying Beyond Burgers are meat-eaters. So add some vegan burgers to your grill and watch everyone fight over the chance to try them!
Now you can stand at the grocery frozen foods section and find an impressive selection of vegan burgers made from everything from pea protein to kelp. Several companies, most notably Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, have gotten so close to replicating the taste and texture of conventional beef burgers that even your most die-hard meat eaters will have trouble telling the difference. Several of the burgers even “bleed” like real beef, by using heme or beet juice to mimic the juice of a real meat burger.
Most consumers who are seeking healthier and more environmentally friendly foods seek out these, meat-alternatives because the companies tout them as better for the planet – and due to the fact that they contain fiber and no saturated fat, better for you. But that debate rages on as the number of ingredients in vegan burgers can be higher than 15, giving critics the ammo they need to argue that processed food is never as good as the real thing.
Most of the burgers on this list are considered highly processed foods and whether they are manufactured in a way that is less damaging to the environment as raising beef, which is a known environmental polluter, has yet to be proven. (The SEC recently passed a rule that publically traded companies that claim to be “climate-friendly” will soon have to prove it with transparent disclosures of how they make their products.) Beyond, Impossible and others have staked their reputations on climate benefits as well as the fact that no animals are killed in the creation of their burgers.
So whatever your reason for choosing a plant-based burger, the final analysis of how environmentally friendly or how healthy they are is still up for grabs. If you are looking for a more “whole food” veggie burger, check out The Best Veggie Burgers to Buy That Are Actually Healthy.
This taste test used 10 criteria for health (such as whether it contains more than 3 grams of protein) and 10 attributes relating to taste (including would we buy it again) to determine a score for each burger. To see the entire list of attributes used in the ratings (each checkmark is worth half a beet on our Beet Meter review), take a look at the full set of requirements. One health attribute is that the first ingredient on the label should be a whole food. Almost none of these burgers do, since they are made from things like “protein isolate”
As for the price, many consumers balk at paying more for a meat-alternative vegan burger than the real thing. But with the cost of food going up, the price of vegan meat may reach price parity as soon as 2023 and eventually become even cheaper than beef. For example, Impossible Foods’ vegan burger has an MSRP of $6.99 for a package with 2 patties, as compared with a pound of 96% All Natural Lean Beef from Walmart which is selling for $6.48 a pound.
Vegan Burgers Are No Longer a Novelty
Designed to taste and look like conventional meat products, the vegan burger, once a novelty has earned its rightful place on the grill. With robust, beef-like flavors, several of the most popular vegan burgers are virtually indistinguishable from meat. As for their nutrition value, over the years, these vegan meat-alternative makers have made sure to pack their products with protein, fiber, iron, and other essential nutrients.
We taste-tested the best-selling vegan burgers available at retail nationwide, just in time for grilling season. What distinguishes a lot of these burgers from traditional veggie burgers (such as black bean or lentil burgers) is that these meat alternatives are trying to taste just like meat, while a black bean or beat or mushroom burger is not, and has its own plant-based integrity as a different tasting patty. Here is our guide to the best vegan burgers on the market.
Beyond Meat Beyond Burger
Beyond Meat’s vegan patty cooks beautifully and replicates everything you’d want from a classic grilled burger. Even more impressive, Beyond’s plant-based burger packs in 20 grams of protein per patty with a new reduced-fat recipe designed to excite anyone’s taste buds.
The biggest drawback of this burger is the unappetizing smell before it’s cooked (don’t let the dog too close since it smells a bit like your best friend’s dinner). Despite that, the Beyond Burger is a tasty and hearty meat alternative.