Tackling the ever-evolving world of meat-based burger alternatives
Long gone are the days when finding an alternative burger for vegetarians or vegans was a distant wish. Today, there are more options than ever, and I’m here to help you make a decision and get started on your journey to meat-free, burger-loving.
I took on the task the critical work of ranking four marketed meat alternatives: The Pure Farmland Plant-based Burger, dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burger, the Beyond Burger and Wholesome Pantry’s Black Bean Chipotle Veggie Burger.
Let’s start with the Pure Farmland Plant-based Burger Patty. With an impressive 14g of protein (soy-based), this burger presented with a peppery, sausage-like taste. Having a salmon-like coloration and appearance, it is perfectly acceptable as a breakfast-meat alternative, perhaps more so than as a burger substitute. The grainy texture and overall consistency would make this a wise choice for use as a crumble in an egg burrito, omelet or even a vegetarian chili, rather than a straight burger. Much like breakfast meats (or breakfast, in general), I was left with a bit of an after taste.
Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers are a healthful alternative for sure, with only 120 calories per serving and a popular choice for those who prefer a more traditional vegetable burger without the taste or texture of traditional beef. As for mimicking meat, this patty was as similar to a beef patty as a middle-aged father is to his teenage daughter – not even close. The seemingly unpreventable and inevitable mushiness of this burger isn’t going to fool anyone. That being said, if you are a fan of vegetables and enjoy the confluence of flavors that they present, this is a great, healthy alternative. Warning – just like Bonnie Tyler, every now and then, it falls apart.
Now, I moved onto the infamous Beyond Burger, who’s public relations agent has been working overtime this year. Recalling the famous commercial of the 90s where Fabio proclaimed “I can’t believe it’s not butter!”, one might upgrade this advertisement for the 21st century and have Beyoncé proclaim, “I can’t believe it’s not beef!” because it sure is close. Though protein burgers are traditionally not as healthful as pure vegetable-based burgers, this still packs a respectable 20g of plant-based protein per serving.
Finally, I tried Wholesome Pantry Black Bean Chipotle Veggie Burgers, which are branded for ShopRite food stores and are similar to other brands that may be found in other grocery chains. With 58% less fat than ground beef, this patty had a nice natural flavor but not one that could be mistaken for meat. Unlike the Praeger’s burger, it seemed to hold together better and appeared more as a spotted, pork roll slice – which is generally not something that garners a lot of excitement- than its competition.
So, if you are looking for the taste, texture and experience of beef but without any of the guilt or excess fat, the Beyond Burger is the way to go.
If you recoil at even the idea of mimicking beef and want a good, delicious vegetable burger, Wholesome Pantry is a good value and with many varieties gives you the opportunity to enjoy a burger that won’t fall apart after the second bite.
Meatless alternatives can be found in more and more places based on the tastes and preferences of more and more people — and that’s a good thing! Now, I just have to figure out a way to make French fries from carrots that taste as if they came from Shake Shack.
Happy, healthy, meat-free eating!
Marc Kaye is a writer, singer, songwriter, stand-up comedian and marketer who gets a lot of his material and life lessons from raising two teenagers. He is President of Eliro (www.eliro.us) that helps organizations create content, messages, communications and training that have lasting impact through the use of compelling storytelling and the power of humor. You can reach Marc at firstname.lastname@example.org.