Even though the term “Vegan” was coined in the 1950s, the surge in interest in the concept was at a full spike in the early 2010s. There are plenty of reasons why people decide to stay away from meat.
Some people choose not to eat meat because of religious reasons, others have allergies or health concerns. A good number of people do it because they care about animal welfare.
If you ask around a number of people what the most popular or the most loved meal in the United States, they would proudly boast about the American burger.
Plant-based or veggie burgers are not a new concept, however, one of the most common questions asked, even for people who eat meat, is what do veggie burgers taste like?
I am here to answer this question.
Quick background story
Before you say: “who’s this guy to tell me about vegan food?“, I can quickly say that I have been trying almost every vegan meat option out there.
I love meat. But I understand that we need to eat less meat in order to reduce climate change impact. Therefore, I’ve reduced my meat consumption with about 80 % (which you can read about in this article).
One of the more efficient ways to do that is to eat “meat that isn’t meat”. Impossible Burger turned out to be one of Burger Kings’ most successful launches ever. More and more burger restaurants do offer a vegan alternative, which means you’re probably not far away from a veggie burger right now. 🙂
What Makes Veggie Burgers Count as Burgers?
Before we venture down the path of the taste of veggie burgers, we must first ask ourselves what exactly makes a burger count as one. There are plenty of technicalities behind the making of the burger.
There are also plenty of challenges one must overcome to put together the perfect burger.
Beef burgers are typically a deep red in color when raw, and turn to an ash brown color when cooked. The variation of its cooked color goes from a light brown to a blackish one, depending on its degree of doneness.
Veggie burgers vary in color. Mostly because they don’t use one ingredient to make the burger. There are beetroot veggie burgers that take a reddish color. Mostly, the colors vary between yellowish-brown and ash brown like typical burgers.
Most of the packaged veggie burgers that are sold in supermarkets are made to mimic real burgers. Store-bought veggie burgers are always designed to look like real burgers so as to look enticing to customers.
Manufacturers aim to recreate the original look of burgers because people are attracted to the ordinary.
Flavor and Smell
Beef burgers have a distinctive flavor and smell. You’d definitely know when someone is cooking a beef burger in your house just by its smell.
Veggie burgers’ flavor and smell differ depending on the ingredients. Each kind has a distinctive flavor because they’re made out of an assortment of ingredients. Also, they don’t have a specific smell.
The protein that comes from beef is pretty high. Red meat, in general, is a superior source of iron and vitamins.
Veggie burgers are made of almost equal percentages of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. It’s low in fiber and it’s a good source of vitamin B12, phosphorus, and dietary fiber. One of the bad aspects of veggie burgers is that they tend to be high in sodium.
The Texture of Veggie Burgers
Just like the flavor, the texture depends heavily on the ingredients. The chewiest veggie burgers are typically created to resemble beef. They are thick, with a diminishing consistency at times and juicy sponginess at other times.
Both veggie burgers made of beans, rice, and vegetables are lighter and mushier. Often, they can be crunchy, that’s mostly when minced carrots and beetroot are used.
Some of the texture can be observed when cooking the burgers. Beef, when cooked, at about 131°F to 140°F becomes medium-rare. Meaning, the beef is cooked and can be eaten. It becomes moist, juicy, and soft.
Will you want to cook your veggie burger at the same temperature as your beef burger? Many people tend to think this way, to ensure that customers see their veggie burger as a typical burger.
Yet it’s tougher than you might really imagine. Much as you had to do with color, you have to consider proteins that change at the same temperature as meat!
Alternatives to Animal-Fat for Veggie Burgers
Fat extracted from beef, or pork, is stable at room temperature. They’d just spill out of your meat bits if they weren’t. Nonetheless, the fats bubble up as you prepare your meaty burger, and they melt. A burger needs fat in order to avoid dryness.
The fat is, however, a piece of beef with a lot of taste.
You then need a source of fat which is solid to room temperature, but liquid when you start cooking a burger. Most fats found in plants do not follow these requirements, because all of them are liquid at room temperature (e.g. avocado, sunflower, canola).
Coconut or palm oils are also similar substitutes to animal-based fats. At room temperature, the oils are stronger but they still melt when you cook your burger.
What Do Veggie Burgers Taste Like?
Once upon a time, many vegan burgers tasted the same as in grainy, spicy, or fried vegetables. There are so many different types of burgers today that one general flavor profile is hard to define.
The most popular veggie burgers are often made using black beans. They’re mostly combined with spices, corn, and root-based vegetables. These veggie burgers will taste beany, earthy and a little spicy occasionally.
Veggie burgers made from soy or wheat gluten resemble beef burgers. They have a savory, umami flavor and can also taste smoky and sweet.
Also read: Why is eating meat bad for the environment?
Many vegetable burgers, like beetroot burgers and the forms of veggie burgers, that can include many vegetables mixed with breadcrumbs, can be mildly sweet and spicy.
Every burger has its own features, as you can see. Many people have a preference, but each form can be equally wonderful, with seasonings that suit their unique flavors.
Reviews from Youtube
One of the best ways to see if food is actually decent is to go on Youtube. A lot of the promotion you will see through other channels tend to be biased. However, Youtubers seem to offer objective reviews when it comes to food.
#1: Impossible Burger from Burger King
This guy, who looks like he is born in 1920 by the way he dresses, tries out the Impossible Burger bought at Burger King:
#2: Six different veggie burgers (comparison)
This guy has a more normal approach to fashion and design. And his video is actually quite cool. He goes through all the six large brands of veggie burgers that are being sold in the US and compares taste, smell, and texture.
Can Veggie Burgers Look and Taste Like Real Burgers?
This was the big question for me: “Can I really taste the difference!?”.
And indeed – I could. You can clearly taste the difference between a normal burger and a veggie burger.
Most veggie burgers will not taste or look like beef, which is perfect for those that don’t need a beef burger substitute. But there are more and more brands for those who offer plant-based choices that really taste like meat.
The Impossible Burger is primarily made from wheat protein which smells like beef, looks, and tastes like one as well. When grilled, it also has a rose base. And it’s completely vegan.
Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger is another veggie burger that comes with a beefy taste.
There’s not one kind of veggie burger that’s like the other. Each one comes with its own flavor, wholly depending on the ingredients.
In short, the taste of a veggie burger depends entirely on its ingredients. It might taste grainy, beany, or sweet. It might also turn out to be a bit spicy because of the spices used to bind the burger.
If you’re still new to this, try playing around with herbs and spices, as well as different vegetables. You might surprise yourself and find a unique combination that will suit your taste!