Until recently, store bought veggie burgers were perhaps the least interesting faux meat option available to vegans. These plant protein patties have graced grocery store shelves for decades, making it into our consumer collective unconscious when Gardenburger dropped seven figures on a Super Bowl ad buy.
Fast forward to 2017, and veggie burgers are making a big splash, as everyone from Big-
Agra to Silicon Valley are trying to create the perfect plant-based burger. While I’m genuinely excited by the trends, you don’t need to find a veggie burger that bleeds to satisfy your carnivorous cravings.
When I gave up red meat in high school, and later gave up all meat in college, veggie burgers were a staple. My college cafeteria offered them nightly. I slathered them with melted cheese, and pretty much sustained myself on those bean, and grain beauties for four years. Well, that, and of course excessive amounts of pasta.
These days, the sheer variety of veggie patty options is staggering. Engine 2, and Hillary’s both make some delicious non-meaty patties. I highly recommend either brand’s lineup for a quick and light lunch sandwich. But when you want to recreate the decadent flavor of say, a bacon cheeseburger, there are two readily available standouts.
Beyond Meat’s Beastly Burger is quite good. It’s a flat, and wide patty, and packs a fair number of calories. In terms of texture, and taste, a Beastly Burger gets both right. A lower calorie alternative that keeps the taste and texture is Gardein’s Meatless Patties.
I’ve experimented with all sorts of combinations of veggie burgers, veggie bacon, and veggie cheeses. There are fewer veggie bacon options to choose from, but for my taste, Upton Natural’s seitan bacon is just right. These protein strips cook quickly, and have a nice crispy texture.
While I generally prefer Sweet Earth’s vegan bacon as a standalone option, Upton’s is best when used in sandwiches (think B.L.T.). Both products are fantastic, but Sweet Earth’s veggie bacon is flavored more heavily than the simple seitan from Upton’s.
When it comes to vegan cheese, no company gets it uniformly right. Daiya’s shreds are unmatched, but their slices don’t quite match the taste, and texture of Follow Your Heart’s slices. I enjoy Daiya slices just fine on a sandwich, but Follow Your Heart’s options are so good, you’ll find yourself willing to snack on a solitary slice.
For my vegan bacon, veggie burger, I prefer Follow Your Heart’s Provolone slices. I would call this particular product one of the five best vegan faux products available. It captures the flavor of provolone like no other has. It also melts quickly, and much like dairy based cheese. Oh, and don’t forget the shitake slices!
Finally, what sandwich is complete without a sandwich pickle slice? Add ketchup, and consume. Pictured here are homemade onion rings (baked, not fried) from Chloe’s Italian Kitchen). Also, from this book is a simple, and delicious arabiatta sauce for dipping.