Here’s a joke for you.
Q: What’s the difference between a plant-based burger and a veggie burger?
“Plant-based” burgers and other faux-teins have received tons of attention during the last few years, but if you actually look at the ingredients lists of offerings from headline-collecting companies like Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat, you’ll see that you’re basically eating soy or pea protein. (“Soy burger” or “pea burger” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?)
That’s not to say that soy protein or pea protein is bad for you, but dietitians agree that they’re not magical for you either. The serious truth is somewhere right down the middle: Eating more fruits and vegetables in your diet will improve your health, prevent you from incurring a host of deadly diseases, and help prevent dietary boredom.
And if you want to add more vegetables to your diet, plant-based burgers (or veggie burgers [or whatever the hell you want to call them]), are a way to do that. Burgers are, after all, awesome.
One thing that the “plant-based” marketing movement has brought about is a higher standard of flavor for veggie burgers in general. Those sad frozen pucks of the past have been replaced with thicker, tastier patties that actual have the power to satisfy.
The comprehensive list that follows lists the 10 best go-to options for plant-based burgers that are worth buying.
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Tofu Veggie Burger
One four-ounce patty has 19 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber for only 190 calories. The patty is primarily tofu (so it’s made of soybeans), but dried shiitake mushrooms lend a deep savory flavor.
No, seriously. This company knows what it’s doing. If you’re skeptical about their first offering, try this one, which ratchets up the heat (and downplays the soy taste) with cayenne and black pepper.
Okay, so there’s a lot of marketing on these patties. But once you get beyond all the buzzwords, there’s a pretty straightforward pea-protein burger. One quarter-pound patty delivers a whopping 25 grams of protein and six grams of fiber for 260 calories. Awesome, indeed.
Twenty grams of protein, our grams of fiber, and a sensible 230 calories per serving. Pea protein makes the base of this burger, which is thicker and more substantial than many other options on the market.
A Portobello Mushroom
Just in case you missed the 1990s, taking a giant mushroom cap, ripping out the gills, slicking the thing down with oil, clobbering it with salt and pepper, and then throwing it on the grill to cook till tender is still a solid option for making a meatless burger.
A Big Ol’ Fresh Tomato Slice
When tomatoes are in season—and only when tomatoes are in season—pluck the ripest one you can find, cut a huge slice from the middle, stick it between a burger bun slather with some mayo, and chow down. Now that’s plant-based.
The Beyond Burger
Men’s Health taste tasters agree that Beyond Meat offers a better plant-based burger than Impossible Foods. Their pea-protein patties are more widely available, less expensive, and lack the chemically aftertaste of the Impossible Burger.
Lightlife also delivers a sensibly priced, pea-based option if you can’t find Beyond products. Same protein count at 20 grams too.
A Burger-Sized Falafel Patty
Falafel is made from chickpeas. Chickpeas are plant-based. Falafel makes an incredible plant-based burger.
Here’s a great recipe.
365 Everyday Value
365 Everyday Value is Whole Foods’ house brand, although these soy-based burgers taste anything but generic. Credit the double umami whammy of mushroom powder and soy sauce.
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