Simply put, a vegan burger is a burger substitute that is made from entirely vegan-friendly ingredients. Meat would be the most obvious of those ingredients, of course, but other commonly used ingredients are not vegan, such as eggs that are sometimes used for binding.
There has been a concerted effort to come up with a burger that is as close to the taste and texture of the real thing while still being vegan, and that is where vegan burgers come in. There are many different types of vegan burger, from burgers that merely imitate the look while not coming close in the taste department, to products like the Impossible Burger, which many claim is better than the real thing.
Why Are There Vegan Burgers?
“What is a vegan burger” only covers half the mystery. To understand why vegan burgers are a thing, you must first have a little bit of an understanding of what veganism itself is. Veganism is not so much a diet as it is a lifestyle. There are some diets that are adopted due to health concerns, such as lactose intolerance causing someone to choose a dairy-free diet or gluten allergy causing someone to go gluten-free. Veganism is not that.
At the core of veganism is a desire to end the cruelty to animals that is caused by our desire to eat animals and animal products. It is an ideological choice as much as it is a dietary one. This is a point worth making because it is very common for vegans to be asked why they don’t just eat a real burger, rather than try and replicate the taste. While some vegans do simply prefer the taste of plant-based food, a vast majority of them are choosing to be vegan on ethical grounds. In other words, they can’t eat a real burger, even if they agree that it tastes better.
Are Veggie Burgers Vegan?
The answer to this question is not straight forward. You see, all vegan food falls under the umbrella of vegetarian food due to the fact that no animal products are used whatsoever. However, not all vegetarian food qualifies as vegan food.
Vegetarians do not eat meat (though some vegetarians make exceptions), and that is where their restrictions end. Vegans consider the whole process when buying their foods. If a pesticide was used on bananas and that pesticide was made using animal products, those bananas are off-limits to vegans. Similarly, if a food product is entirely vegan-friendly, but the packaging isn’t, that’s a no-no.
This is not to say that there is no such thing as a vegan-friendly veggie burger, of course. There are certainly burgers that are marketed as “veggie” burgers that are perfectly acceptable to vegans. However, being a veggie burger does not guarantee that it will be a vegan burger. Always do your research before purchasing.
What are Vegan Burgers Made From?
Vegan burgers can be made from any number of ingredients, such as rice, whole wheat, soybeans, black beans, lentils, corn, and much more. The important thing to establish when attempting to make a vegan burger is what it is you are hoping to achieve.
If your goal is to make an alternative to a burger that is tasty, you can make it with whatever ingredients produce the desired look and texture while providing the kind of flavor you want. If you are aiming for a vegan burger that is as close to a real burger as possible, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. We are not saying you can’t do it, but companies with large marketing budgets have tried and failed to create a convincing burger substitute for years now.
Tips for Making a Great Vegan Burger
While most meat-eaters will swear by a good burger patty, anyone who cooks will know just how important the accouterments are. The relish, the salad, the side dish all of these things can make or break a burger, and they should not be overlooked when crafting a vegan burger.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations. It can’t hurt to look at popular non-vegan burgers for inspiration, but don’t feel as though you have to stick to those recipes.
When it comes to side dishes, there isn’t too much to worry about. Typical burger side dishes include salad and fries both of which can be made in a vegan-friendly way with very little alteration to the most popular ways of preparing them.
For the bun, there are lots of vegan bread recipes available, and also plenty of vegan bread products you can buy. Of course, as many gluten-free diners will tell you, you don’t have to put your burger in a bun in order to enjoy it.
Can Vegan Burgers Win Non-Vegans Over?
Burgers are often cited as the reason a person won’t go vegan or vegetarian. This immensely popular food is as about as non-vegan as it gets, so could a good vegan burger win a meat-eater over? Whether or not a good vegan burger can win a non-vegan over depends entirely on what you mean by winning them over. If you mean a begrudging admission that the burger is nice, then yes, absolutely. They will likely tell you that they still prefer meat even if they don’t but most non-vegans can admit that a vegan snack is tasty.
If, on the other hand, you mean to win them over as in converting them to veganism, most likely not.
The problem is that the vegan lifestyle is not as easy as the unhealthy, junk food-filled lifestyle that many of us lead. In order to move over to veganism, a person has to believe in the ethical grounding on which the lifestyle was built. It is the desire to minimize cruelty to animals that drives vegans to go those extra miles, even though it would be easier to simply buy groceries without paying too much attention to how they were made.
Sure, a good burger might woo them for a short time, perhaps long enough to declare they are going to start being vegan. But if they are not on board with the reason for being vegan, the added difficulty of the lifestyle will soon see them losing interest.