Consumer Reports Extols Veggie Burgers
Veg folks know they're in the mainstream when a publication like Consumer Reports (June 2016 issue) devotes three pages to Veggie Burgers. In the article "Make Mine Meatless," author Andrea Rock writes, "According to a 2015 survey from market research firm Mintel, 25% of Americans say veggie burgers are on the menu more than once a month; many eat them several times weekly."
A 2015 survey in Meatingplace, a meat industry publication, announced that almost 75% of meat eaters opted for non-meat protein in a meal once a week while 22% say they are eating vegetarian protein more often than the previous year.
This is good news for vegans. We knew all along that slowly but surely, plant-based meals would eventually become familiar foods rather than the novelty they may have been only a few years ago.
Consumer Reports enlisted the aid of dietitians and professional food tasters to evaluate 17 vegetarian patties available in supermarkets and rated them for taste and nutrition. The samplers munched on two types of burgers: meatlike and grain-based or vegetable-based. The meatlike had soy or pea protein as the base while the grain and vegetable did not resemble meat but featured seeds, vegetables, legumes, and grains.
Another notable mention is that at least 17 different varieties of vegetarian patties are readily available today for purchase in supermarkets.
Of the 17 tested, eleven were vegan, and six contained eggs and/or dairy. Gardein Beefless Burger was the only vegan one of the four meatlike patties rated VERY GOOD. Lightlife Smart Patties Original Burger with Quinoa and Beyond Meat Beast Burger both received a GOOD rating.
In the Grain-Based and Vegetable-Based category, two of the seven in the VERY GOOD ranking were not vegan. The five vegan standouts were Amy's California Light in Sodium, Amy's California Burger, Amy's All American Burger, Dr. Praeger's California Burger, and Engine 2 Tuscan White Bean Burger.
Hilary's The World's Best Burger, Sunshine Burgers Quarter Pound Original, and DeCanto's Best Traditional were three vegan patties of the four listed in the GOOD category. No patties sampled received ratings less than GOOD. That's the good news. The samplers then went on to evaluate the ingredients.
Sunshine Burgers takes the prize for the least number of ingredients--only five. Except for the sea salt, the other four were organic. Amy's burgers average just over a dozen ingredients.
Boca and Morningstar Farms Burgers, both non-vegan, had long lists of ingredients, some of which were a challenge to pronounce. Because we try to consume products made of whole foods, we tend to steer clear of those with long lists of additives, even those that are all vegan. We don't feel we can recommend them.
Vegan Meatlike Burgers ranged from 100 to 260 calories each, while Grain-Based and Vegetable-Based in the VERY GOOD category ranged from 100 to 180 calories. The GOOD vegan burgers were more caloric, running from 210 to 360 calories.
Because we recognize Americans consume excessive amounts of sodium, we were pleased to learn sodium was one of the samplers' considerations. Engine 2 takes the prize for the least sodium, weighing in at a low 15 grams per burger. All the others contained between 250 and 500 grams. Because of the small size of the burgers, those with 500 grams of sodium might be a red-flag health concern.
We were glad to see the evaluators give extra points to the patties that had what they felt were "real" ingredients like vegetables, grains, and seeds instead of artificial flavors, additives, and chemicals used in highly processed foods.
The story cautions that the burgers weighed as little as 2 1/4 ounces and that people might end up eating two. Double the level of sodium, calories, and fat could trigger health issues. Nine of the burgers in the sample weighed 2 1/2 ounces. That's why they're under 200 calories. The Beyond Meat Beast Burger totaled 4 ounces and delivered 23 grams of protein in its 260 calories and 480 milligrams of sodium.
Clearly, there are many convenient, ready-made burger choices available to explore. What a fun project it might be to go on a burger hunt to find which are family favorites!
The author supplies "A Healthy Homemade Option," but, unfortunately, it contains one egg and 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Those ingredients push the homemade burger off the vegan list but trigger a fun and innovative project to enlist your aid.
Do you have a delicious, homemade vegan burger recipe you would love to share? We would love to share it, too! Send us your recipe, along with a jpg photo of the burger to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll feature it in a future issue with a link to your blog or website. We welcome your contributions and only ask that you use whole, plant-based foods--real foods with no artificial ingredients.