Food

A Veggie Burger Taste Test

A Veggie Burger Taste Test

Everyone in my family loves a grilled, juicy, craggy-edged beef burger (potato roll, ketchup, yellow mustard, extra pickles please), so once we started dialing back the meat a few years ago, it was challenging to fill that void. The few experiences we’d had with additive-laden veggie burgers from the freezer section were unsatisfying. But the arrival of Impossible Burgers and their refrigerator-section cohorts a few years ago have upped the ante, so we thought it was time to conduct an official Cup of Jo taste test

Who better to enlist as our expert panelist than Cara Nicoletti, fourth-generation, NYC-based butcher and co-founder of the vegetable-forward Seemore sausages, which are loaded with fresh vegetables along with humanely raised meat. We asked Cara, who is quarantining in Boston with her family, to track down five of the most popular nationally-available brands in her neighborhood.

Here’s what she came up with: Impossible, Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger, Sweet Earth’s Awesome Grounds, Gardein’s Ultimate Plant Burger, and Dr. Praeger’s Perfect Burger. Whenever possible, she tried to find the pre-made patties, but wound up shaping two of the five herself. Because of quarantine, the rules were not quite as rigorous as they have been in the past. Unlike the other tests, her veggie burger tasting wasn’t blind, and there was no stenographer (read: me) scribbling notes in the corner. This time it was just Cara, her considerable expertise, and her notepad.

OK, maybe she had a little help from her adorable nephew, Noah. (Here, he enjoys the winning burger.) And it wasn’t completely lawless. To make sure the playing field was even, each patty was prepared the same way: Grilled then served in a potato roll with ketchup, mustard and pickles. They were graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most satisfying experience for a meat eater. This last factor is important given that the new generation of plant-based burgers (the ones you’ll usually find near the ground beef in the refrigerated section) is geared towards meat-eaters, not vegetarians and vegans. The thinking goes, if plant-based alternatives caught on with meat-eaters, even if they ate one just some of the time, it would have an enormously positive impact on the environment, dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water, energy, and land use. (Though some say the research is still young on their total environmental impact.) The brands are highly processed and loaded with ingredients that are not necessarily natural, or even pronounceable, but their goal is higher-level, i.e. to provide a sustainable option for meat eaters who want a burger that mimics beef.

While tasting, we asked Cara to address the following questions about each burger: Was the taste natural or artificial? What was the meatiness factor? Did it taste like beef? Vegetables? Chemicals? How about the consistency? Was it mushy? Did it get a good cragginess on the edges? And since, again, summer, did it do well on the grill? Lastly, of course: Which one was the winner? Here’s where she came down on each…

Beyond Burger/Beyond Grounds (Beyond Meat)
Price: About $6 for two 4-ounce patties
General Notes
I really like Beyond Sausage patties, so I had high hopes for these. I was surprised when I opened the package that it had the a sweet chemical smell that I think was made worse by the reduced oxygen packaging. I tried looking at the ingredients of both to see what that smell could be, maybe it’s the pea protein? Giant flakes of what looks like coconut in there, which was kind of weird. I love coconut! But not in my burger.
Grilling Notes: Held together well on the grill and took on good char marks, but the pink color really bloomed while cooking, it almost looked like a salmon burger. I was really shocked by the taste when I bit into it, it let off a burst of chemical smell and flavor that I was not expecting — sort of like sweet acetone. Not a trace of beef flavor to be found. The texture was like a super hefty bistro burger that had been over-molded, bouncy and chewy, with no moisture. I’m sad about this one.
Score: 1/5

Awesome Grounds/Awesome Burger (Sweet Earth)
Price: About $6 for two 8-ounce patties or about $8 for 12-ounce grind
Tasting Notes: I had a really hard time getting this grind to mold into a patty, it was super sticky but dry at the same time, which seems like an impossible combination. The smell was really unpleasant when raw, sort of sweet and chemically, and I hoped it would go away once it was cooked, but it didn’t. Once it was cooked it was very dry, might be better as a crumble. Really very little flavor at all except for being super sweet and having a faint plastic aftertaste.
Grilling Notes: Stuck to the grill a little but got good grill marks and held together well. Would do well in a griddle and as a crumble. As far as mimicking beef flavor it’s a 0/5, I didn’t get even a hint of beef, but texture-wise could have been a very lean, very overcooked patty. I think this would do better as something like taco meat, with lots and lots of seasoning to hide the flavor.
Score: 1/5

Perfect Burger (Dr. Praeger’s)
Price: About $5 for two 4-ounce patties
Grilling Notes: This one stayed super compact and solid throughout the grilling process, no craggy edges but it did take on grill marks. When I cut it open it was very dry, which surprised me, it looked like it was going to be juicy, and it had more pink pockets on the inside.
Tasting Notes
When I opened up the package, it had the same burst of sweet chemical smell as Beyond and Sweet Earth. Really compact and solid and heavy like a hockey puck, and really pink. It also had little bursts and pockets of what looked like beet juice dotted throughout, which added to the fake meat vibe. Reader, this was the worst of the bunch. When I bit into it, actual alarm bells rang in my head and told me this was not something that belonged in my body. It was the taste of danger, like a burst of formaldehyde on my taste buds, I had to spit it out. I’m sorry, Dr. Praeger.
Score: 0/5

WINNER!
Impossible Burger (Impossible)
Price: About $9 for 12 ounces ground
Tasting Notes
I was doubtful about this one when I went to form it into a patty. The texture of the grind is so so soft, almost dogfood-like, which worried me, but if I put this aside, it did look the most like ground beef of the bunch. There were striations of fiber and fat throughout, and the color was the most believable. The smell of the raw grind was also the most believable, umami and a slight coppery blood smell (I can’t think of a more appealing way to say this).
Grilling Notes: Once formed into a patty, it was very sticky and soft, and immediately stuck to the grill grates pretty badly even though they were oiled. BUT! It sizzled so beautifully! And took on the color of actual cooking ground beef—a sort of grey-brown. The edges got beautifully craggy like a real smash burger. The taste of this one is the closest to beef I’ve ever had. It almost tastes like straight MSG, and I mean that as a compliment. Really deep mushroomy beefy umami taste, and texturally very believable too. It wouldn’t be able to fool me, but I can understand why people are so excited about it! Believe the hype.
Score: 5/5

RUNNER UP
Ultimate Plant-Based Burger (Gardein)
Price: About $4 for 2 4-ounce patties
Tasting Notes
This one smelled good when I opened it, which was a nice relief! Kind of garlicky, so not like ground beef exactly, but savory in a familiar way. This one had a more realistic brown-ish pink color, and striations of white fat throughout that might have been solidified coconut oil, but looked kind of realistic.
Grilling Notes: Held together really nicely on the grill and took on good char marks and kind of craggy edges, which is the best part of a real burger. When cooked and cut in half it let out some nice juice and had a fibrous-looking inside that mimicked real beef. I really liked this one! Had a nice umami beefy flavor that mimicked a real burger. Texture-wise, it was definitely the bounciest of the bunch, felt very much like seitan, which makes sense since there is vital wheat gluten in there. Would eat again!
Score: 4/5

Thank you, Cara! Good luck with your sausages!

P.S. Homemade veggie burgers and why we should cut back on meat and dairy.

  1. Sarah says...

    It’s really refreshing to read a negative review on Beyond burgers. Here in Belgium everyone says they’re really good, even carnivore friends. The texture is like one of those plastic webbed sponges. Yuck.

    There are some really great plant-based burgers on the market here though. The best I tasted so far was from a supermarket called Albert Heijn, their own brand. It looked like a real raw patty in the package. So realistic and delicious. But they are hard to find.

  2. vaness says...

    The Impossible Burger is super GMO. Be careful. The brand also bullied mothers who called them out for this.

  3. Andrea says...

    As a 35 year + vegetarian I am really put off by veggie burgers (or other veggie “meat” option) that’s sells itself as “tasting just like meat”.

    If I wanted to eat meat, I would eat a real burger, or real chicken or a real meatball. This has been a years-long ongoing debate with my carnivore family and friends – when a new, trendy vegetarian restaurant opens they are often the ones with the highest raves…No, I don’t want to try the (insert menu item) that tastes just like the “real thing”.
    When dining out, I crave creative, well thought out vegetarian food that tastes like the ingredients included in the recipe. Pretty simple but, with a few exceptions, extremely challenging for others to understand.

    • Jenny says...

      I’m with you here — growing up most of vegetarian dishes/options I was exposed to were of the terrible, tasteless meat-mimicking variety. (Think awful chicken/beef/seafood etc made of tofu shaped like meat, along with a heaping helping of additives/chemicals to make it look like meat but that tasted nothing like it.) I never understood why people wanted the poor imitations of meat. I mean if you were going to eat meat, wouldn’t it be better to go for the real thing? If you were truly going vegetarian, wouldn’t it be better to learn to adapt to and discover the taste of actual greens more?

      I’ve been an avowed meat-lover but I also enjoy the occasional Caesar salad/spinach artichoke formaggio/panzanella/ratatouille/eggplant parm/ creamy soups/etc, all of which are meat-free but every bit as satisfying and delicious as any meat-laden dish. Point being, there are plenty of delicious veg-only options (ok plus dairy) that one doesn’t have to pine after (fake) meat. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to discover that vegetarian meals didn’t have to automatically mean tasteless slop.

  4. Lianne says...

    OMG. I HATE Beyond Burgers. I thought it was just me. Yes they taste like chemicals. I use the ground meat crumbles in spaghetti and that’s fine. The patties are inedible to me.

    Impossible burgers are really good and Ive enjoyed them at several
    restaurants!

  5. Shannon says...

    Hahaha. This is great. Jenny for the win, always and forever. I’ll have to work hard to forget the ‘coppery blood smell’ (gagging just typing this) but what a worthwhile, super fun, summery taste test and now I know what to serve my meat-eating family when they stop over to cook out. :)

  6. Grace says...

    A note on the Beyond burgers- I worked in natural foods when these came out and about half of the workers at the store were aware of and put off by the smell (I was one of them!). I thought it smelled like sweet spoiled cat food, and just the aroma of a demo being cooked made me hot to vom. HOWEVER there were plenty of folks (veg and non) who didn’t notice it at all and loved them. It was such a strong smell to me that I couldn’t imagine why anyone was eating the samples, but I think it might be like cilantro or asparagus pee or other food things that some folks experience and others don’t!

    • Zara says...

      So interesting to hear this! I was SO confused by that comment on the Beyond Meat–we love that stuff and do not notice a weird smell at all. (We’re also Team Cilantro, so who knows…).

  7. Claire says...

    They’re sooo good. I think she cooked them incorrectly :/

  8. Beachreader says...

    Sol Burgers are my favorite, they are the best GF veggie burgers. Hard to find but worth it.

  9. Jeannie says...

    The Impossible burger does taste delicious. I wish I could say the ethics of the company are great, but they are not: they wish to replace industrial animal meat industry with industrial vegetable growing (damage soil, exploitive labor practices, giant supply chains). Beyond company has some more social responsibility but I really wonder about all of them…

    We can’t fix capitalist, industrial agriculture with MORE of it.

    • Betty Von Fury says...

      Jeannie that’s a great comment – hadn’t really thought about this at all – vegan or plant based focus foods overall ethics … Nativity I guess. Doing research now… You have opened my eyes… Thank you 🙏

  10. Rose Miller says...

    I was honestly shocked to read that you didn’t like Beyond Burgers! I wonder if it was expired? My boyfriend and I haven’t been able to get enough of these since we first tried them last month. They’re incredible!

    • Stefanie says...

      Agreed! I’d give it another shot.

    • Stefanie says...

      I’m with you! I would give it another shot.

    • caitlin says...

      I really like these too, though they do remind me of an old school burger if that makes sense? We’ve also been eating their ground “meat” in a few different recipes (tacos, lettuce wraps) and it’s pretty good!

    • Sara G. says...

      I agree with you! Beyond Burgers are our favorite to cook at home (on the cast iron!) and honestly I think they’re delicious, and I had never really been a fan of plant-based burgers before. Really love the texture & taste!

    • JLH says...

      Agree–I’ve never grilled them, though. I cook in cast iron on the stove. My meat-eating husband and au pair also really like them. I was kind of confused by this review of them! (We also prefer them to Impossible, but my husband says Impossible tastes like a fast food hamburger.)

  11. H says...

    I’m a vegetarian and occasionally eat Impossible and Beyond burgers – they are tasty, but I would still rather have a big salad most days. But can we stop with the worry about things that aren’t pronounceable? It just seems like lazy anti-intellectualism, not to mention how that same mentality shows up other places, like refusals to learn someone’s name because it seems “difficult” to pronounce. Are things good just because they’re immediately recognizable? Being put off by a chemical because it’s dangerous is one thing; being put off by something with a scientific name new to you is silly. Our very bodies are made up chemicals that might be difficult to pronounce, but so what.

    • Taylor says...

      I am so glad you posted this, H. I am 100% with you.

    • Betsy B says...

      It’s not ideal to put many chemicals in our bodies, these are not chemicals already naturally occuring in our bodies as you imply lol. These are cheap genetically modified organisms created for major profits at the expense of one’s health. Monsanto is not our bodies friend. Some foods are hardly food. This is why Impossible Burger no matter how good may say it tastes, I will not support. Anyway, everyone has a right to their own opinion, I don’t like anyone telling others to not worry about something, it’s completely devaluing their opinion. You can say what you wish and let everyone else have their freedom of speech as well.

    • H says...

      Betsy, my comment is specifically directed toward concerns about things being “pronounceable.” As I state, we should be discerning about which chemicals we put in our bodies, so I agree with you there. I’m not saying people don’t have a right to their opinion; rather, I want them to think more critically about those opinions.

  12. Shira says...

    I’m following WW, and I’ve checked out beyond and impossible burgers at the store, and they’re both so high in points! So I haven’t ever tasted them. If I’m going to spend my points, I’d rather have real beef 🤷🏻‍♀️

  13. Christine says...

    Gardein is our favorite. We have them about every two weeks. We have also tried Beyond Burger and the Aldi brand. We use a cast iron skillet to get those craggy edges – this is key!

  14. L says...

    This is mostly unrelated, but I would be interested in a post about how families with a mix of vegetarian and/or vegan and non-vegetarian members handle cooking at home? Does everyone make their own thing? Do you make two meals? Do you make a meat-based meal and then just eat the side dishes if you’re the vegetarian? As a former vegetarian who is thinking of returning, I would like some advice :)

    • Courtney says...

      I’m sure a post on this would be more informative than my personal experience, but what we do as a mixed-food-habit household is this…I’m pescatarian and my partner eats everything. We almost always eat together and eat the same thing, if we’re at home. He eats meat sometimes if we go out to a restaurant or if we’re having meat-eating friends over for dinner (pre-COVID times…). Of course, grilling can be an easy way for each person to choose a thing to grill. Every now and then he’ll get a hankering to make a meat dish at home, and that’s fine – I just eat something else or sides. But most of the time, it’s veg/pescatarian at home, our own things at restaurants, and more of a variety with guests.

    • Kate says...

      I’m a vegetarian, and am the only one in my family who is. I now live with my bf, who isn’t a vegetarian either, so I have lots of experience here! What we do is a mix of just eating vegetarian food together, making our own meals, or making a big “base” food and adding in our own additions. For example, dinner might be a big batch of pasta with seasonal veggies. That base will be shared, but my partner might roast some chicken to add on to his portion, and I might add some chickpeas or something to mine. It helps that even though I’m the only vegetarian, my family and partner don’t actually eat much meat so our meals are mostly accidentally vegetarian anyways.

    • Karin says...

      I’m a vegetarian, and my kids and partner are meat eaters. We’ve developed many meals that are pretty easy to adapt for everyone, and how it works really depends on the type of food. A lot of “build your own” meals, like tacos, burritos, Buddha bowls, lettuce wraps, etc. are great- we just make one kind of meat and then either have tofu or beans for me. In a more traditional meat, starch, and veggie meal, I’ll often have a slab of tofu or a veggie burger, or sometimes just have the veggie and starch. And then there are the meatless nights when I make things like veggie chili or soup or lasagna.

    • MozartsGirl says...

      Can I recommend a book here? I have bought this for many friends in the same situation and I have it myself as it’s useful for having omnivore friends over….It’s called ‘Vegan, Vegetarian, Omnivore’ by Anna Thomas and it’s invaluable for adapting one meal to suit everyone. It can be really tiring to have to cook several different meals or, as the vegan or vegetarian, to feel as though you’re being ‘short changed’ with just side dishes (not that lots of side dishes aren’t wonderful – and suitable!) Anyway, hope this helps someone…

    • JLH says...

      We have a mixed house with various vegan, gluten free, no pork, etc needs (3 adults, 2 kids). 95% of the time we make one meal and then do protein or ingredient swaps. So we’ll make tofu and fish, or veggie burgers and pork chops, or tacos with assemble your own, or making the cornbread with almond milk and vegan butter instead of dairy, lentil pasta instead of wheat pasta, add cheese to your portion of salad that was mixed without it, etc. Maybe 1/3 of the time we truly all eat the exact same thing (a vegan/GF dish). Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club is great about listing these types of swaps and substitutions if you’re new to the concept.

    • Ashley B says...

      I do the same as what some other folks have mentioned. I make one vegetarian meal every night, but since my daughter eats meat I will add it to her plate. For example if I’m making spaghetti, I’ll take some of the sauce and add ground meat to it. If it’s a recipe that can’t be adapted that way, I’ll just add a little meat to the side of her plate. I cook batches of chicken and beef and freeze them in individual portions so they’re ready to go.

  15. Meghan Groom says...

    Been a veggie for 6 years now and I love Beyond Meat everything – the spicy Italian sausage is the best! But seriously love the burger patties. My meat eating husband eats them right long with me without complaint! The best Impossible burger I’ve had is from a local spot in SF called Wildseed. Otherwise I prefer to get the Beyond patty from Carl’s Jr. when doing fast food.

    • Julie says...

      Vegan for 5 years and I love Beyond Meat everything and Wildseed is the BEST! Looking forward to Baia opening.

  16. Turtle says...

    This is my favorite veggie burger recipe. Since you are using your own ingredients, you can choose whether or not to keep it non-GMO and organic. They freeze well and are delicious. They take a few steps to make, but are worth it. Double the recipe and freeze some for later. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016668-the-ultimate-veggie-burger

  17. Heather Ruth says...

    Interesting, I noticed the top 2 both contain wheat, so maybe this is the binding agent that makes the taste better. I’m gluten free (and vegan), so it’s hard to find pre-packaged that meets both of those. Which is actually good, I eat almost no pre-packaged food. Rich Roll has an amazing recipe for veg burgers with BBQ sauce added in for that right off the grill smoky flavor. https://meals.richroll.com/recipe/57bb52caf83f55a2e4df70f3

    • Betsy B says...

      That’s my issue too as I need to stay away from soy for one reason, wheat for another, and those are the 2 most common in any veggie burger or meat substitute burger, it’s always one or the other or both, in addition to lots of preservatives and salt in some.

    • Ren says...

      I wonder if the ingredients for beyond meat burgers are different in the UK and US? I am in the UK and they are gluten free and I think they are great. So interesting that some people really don’t like them. I’ve been vegetarian for a few years and to me they are the closest to a proper old fashioned beef burger.

  18. Julie says...

    Thanks for this. I can’t seem to find a good veggie burger, so I will look for your recommendations. I usually make my own version with lentils/walnuts/rice, but I realize those are not made to simulate beef. I dislike the taste of artificial flavours.

    • Betsy B says...

      Yours sound amazing! I need to make something with those ingredients, then I don’t have to worry about all the fillers and salt in some of these. I just got so use to not cooking as often as I should, as I am so tired after work, especially nowadays.

  19. Emily says...

    Thanks for the taste test! It makes me feel old to say that it’s been 20 years since I’ve eaten meat, but I am thrilled by the options in this golden age of vegan convenience food. My fave is cooking impossible burgers in the cast iron skillet, toasting the bun in the pan, and topping with red onion, tomato, pickle and homemade secret sauce. I went vegan for ethical reasons, so I still have nostalgic connotations for the food I grew up with. The Gardein fishless filets have become one of my throw-together meals when I’m alone. I’m sure some people would turn up their nose at frozen vegan fish sticks, but they provide me a little path to being a kid eating fish sticks off a tv tray while my overworked mother had some time to herself.

    • annie says...

      I hated the gardein burger it was this awful, greasy mess but i love their thanksgiving turkey feast! I loved the Praeger burger, least amount of ingredients, and it tasted great to me. My parents used to lie and tell me fish sticks were chicken but i never liked chicken so i hate both now lol!

    • Claire says...

      How do you make your secret sauce, Emily?

  20. Meg says...

    I agree about the Praeger Perfect Burger, but their All American burger is good! Not like a real hamburger, but very good for a veggie burger.

  21. Gemma says...

    I understand the intentions, but perhaps the next taste test can be done by a desperate vegetarian 😅. I’ve been a vegetarian for a while now, but sometimes I get an intense craving for meat and I don’t think I’d have the same standards as a professional sausage maker. I’d probably devour all these brands because what does really beef even taste like? Can’t remember lol.

    • Erin G. says...

      I was really charmed by the comments where folks gave a shout-out to their favorite restaurant veggie burger (to that end, if you’re ever in St. Petersburg, Florida give the Awesome Burger a try at Love Food Central, an incredible vegan/gf cafe). Which made me think (hey CoJ team!), it would be so fun to read about some readers’ favorite meals at their favorite hometown spots! I love an ode to a wonderful meal.

  22. Dana says...

    Dang, these comments are kind of anxiety-inducing, haha. How can we ever make the right choice!? There are too many factors to consider! Ahhh.

    As a longtime vegetarian, I enjoy both a veggie & bean forward burger and a “fake meat” burger here and there. I think they both have their time and place. The general rule of moderation in all things feels like an appropriate approach here. We can be aware of the negative impact that some of our food choices have on the planet and our bodies and make the best choices we can the majority of the time. And then, occasionally, eat what we like just because we like it! At least that’s how I get by.

  23. Megan Johnson says...

    As a longtime vegan, the Beyond Burger is my fave :-) My meat-and-potatoes loving husband really likes it too! Thank you for exploring more vegan options–better for the animals, the planet, and humans!

  24. Nicole says...

    Enjoying the comments on this one. Who knew it was such a controversial topic!

    Glad I’m not the only vegetarian who doesn’t want to eat anything that tastes like real meat.

    My personal taste test concluded that gardenburgers hold the best on the grill and Dr. Pragers veggie patties are an easy week day dinner, but must be made in a pan.

  25. Kat O says...

    I’ve been a vegetarian for about 22 years now, and while I would never go back and I absolutely agree that eating a largely plant-based diets is one of the best things you can do for the environment…unfortunately, the growing popularity of plant-based meat replacements has done nothing to actually decrease the production of meat. Now we just have MORE plant-based products, but also MORE meat – we just overproduce and overconsume as a rule :( And, as you touched on, those products are highly processed and also not great for the environment.

    Wherever possible, I’d encourage folks to look for whole plant-based alternatives (ie, beans and quinoa – which also make a great burger ;) and enjoy eating plants for what they are, instead of trying to replicate meat exactly. And when you DO eat meat, eating locally, humanely sourced meat is going to be a million times better for you, for the animal, for the farmer, and for the environment. All that being said, I do absolutely recognize that it can be a privilege to access this kind of food, AND if you like plant-based meat replacements, you should go for it! Just wanted to share some additional info :)

    • Tanya says...

      I will take your word on the Impossible burger. I was gifted some, looked into the ingredients and investors decided on a solid no thanks for my family.

      We tried the Beyond Burger a few weeks ago and my first bite took me back to age 12 when my family became vegan and Boca Burgers were the only option. It tasted exactly the same to me, and I didn’t like them then.

      After all these years, I’ve made peace with the reality that meat tastes like meat and veggies/legumes/nuts do not. I’ve found and made some delicious plant based burgers and celebrated the flavors they do have without trying to be something else.

    • Tanya says...

      Oops, that was meant as a general reply, not a reply to your comment. My bad 🙊

  26. MozartsGirl says...

    I haven’t eaten meat (or fish) for about 12 years…but not because I didn’t like it and I will admit that I occasionally miss a really junky burger! I’m in the UK and we do have the Beyond range here but not Impossible (yet) I was really disappointed with Beyond – it was a once only try for me!! BUT I have eaten Impossible burgers in Hong Kong and the US and I still dream about them!! Anything like that would be a very occasional treat for us, but I do hope they come here because they are the nearest thing to a fast food beef burger I’ve tasted…

  27. Rosie says...

    I will never understand cutting out a food group and then replacing it with a fake version.

    • Julie S says...

      The target audience for these products tends to be people who want or need to cut down on eating meat, not vegetarians/vegans. Most veg/vegan folks I know (longtime vegetarian myself) don’t care for them and far prefer other options like black bean, veggie, grain, or mushroom burgers whose only similarity to a meat patty is the shape.

    • MozartsGirl says...

      I think it depends on why you stopped eating it, Rosie. Personally I loved meat and it was difficult to give up – I did it for ethical reasons a long time ago. It’s lovely (just now and then) to revisit a bit of meat-eating nostalgia while knowing I’m not causing the death of an animal. My friend feels differently, can’t stand the taste or ‘mouthfeel’ of meat so doesn’t want to go near anything that reminds her…It’s just one of those personal decisions I guess!

    • annie says...

      I totally understand but I just don’t like the taste of meat, it’s weird. As a kid, I would eat a billion burgers after I got old I felt terrible after eating burgers, all greasy, etc. I don’t like to eat fake versions of stuff but I wanted to enjoy the fourth of July with my family last year, the American experience, burgers, hotdogs, etc. and brought this over. I have loved the praeger burgers ever since. I swear they should pay me for all this publicity!

    • Amy says...

      This is trumping thinking. Animals raised for food suffer tremendously. There is no such thing as ‘humanely raised’ animals. Is rather eat vegetable based protein than dead rotten animal flesh

    • JLH says...

      I’m vegan and my nutritionist actually encourages me to eat these because I have a hard time getting sufficient protein without overdoing the carbs. (I eat a lot of pure, cheap, organic, local tofu, too.)

  28. Emily says...

    Impossible Whopper is soooooo good!

  29. Kara says...

    Agreed! I’ve tried Cara’s sausages, they’re great, I respect her as a food industry entrepreneur…and yet I feel like her role as a pro biased her reviews. I love when it’s Jenny’s kids and their friends doing the reviews for that reason.

  30. Tovah says...

    Beyond Burger tip: Get the square pack of “ground meat,” NOT the pre-formed patties! I don’t know why, but I promise there is a better texture/taste situation in there.

    • LR says...

      Yes! I was surprised by the bad review. We love their burgers we make from the loose ‘meat’ and think they’re pretty realistic.

    • Betsy B says...

      Thanks Tovah for the comment because I was going to give away the ground meat Beyond Burger sitting in my freezer due to my massive disappointment with the patties. I had bought the patties in bulk at Costco, and ended up giving all but 2 away after my friend and I tried them. I figured the ground stuff they would taste the same as the patties. I am now anxious to try the ground beef.

  31. Vivian says...

    I have been a vegetarian for 25 years. My son ordered an impossible burger for me. I took one bite & nearly thru up. I want a veggie burger that tastes like veggies-not meat!

    • L says...

      Agree absolutely! It made me want to vomit. Spicy black bean burgers (with some awesome toppings) always and forever!

    • Jim says...

      Yeah, Thought I was the only person with this problem.

    • CAITLIN says...

      I felt the same way about it! I havent eaten meat since I was 12 (I’, almost 40) and everything about the burger made me gag. The texture, the flavor, and the fact that they were trying so hard to make it a “bloody” burger.

    • 20 year vegetarian here as well, and I agree with you. But I don’t believe we’re the target audience. My husband loves impossible, for example, and if I can get him to eat less meat this way, it’s absolutely a win.

    • Kate says...

      Well, most people have problem with the opposite and those are who we should focus on, to reduce meat consumption as much as possible

    • Diana says...

      Agree! I think meat eaters prefer the impossible burger because of it.

    • Tania says...

      Yup, I agree. Their target audience must be meat eaters, or vegetarians with meat eating family members, because, as a 30 year vegetarian, I don’t like the veggie burgers that emulate beef burgers. They end up tasting too processed, too salty, and, well, unhealthy. We prefer to make our own, in big batches so that we can freeze them and pull them out when we need them.

  32. Tawny says...

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve been near vegan for 13 years and haven’t eaten meat in that time. I eat mainly plant based and don’t eat meat substitutes often but every once in a while I want a decadent burger! It is still a “treat” for me but I feel better about not eating meat for ethical reasons, the environment, and for my own health. I haven’t tried them all and I know there are some lame vegan burger options but I love that you posted this. Whether everyone likes it or not, humans are moving away from eating as much meat. And that’s a good idea for everyone. Thanks, Joanna!

  33. Betsy says...

    My first comment is not posted nor pending. Was something wrong with it ? :(

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Nope! Just took a minute to moderate:) thank you! Xoxo

    • Betsy B says...

      Oh sorry I thought maybe I was too harsh on my criticism of some burgers. Thank you !

  34. Betsy B says...

    Has anyone tried the don Lee Farms beef vegan burger ? I like their chipotle bean burger, it’s the only product of theirs I have tried and curious about all the rest, but all their products appear to have soy:
    http://Www.donleefarms.com

  35. jansen says...

    GMO-free is more important to me than flavor so I would try those – but as a vegetarian I’d be the last person to want anything that is indistinguishable from meat!

    But for those looking to cut back on meat I highly recommend choosing gmo-free and yes I know allll the arguments. But not even China is feeding gmo to their populace – they grow it strictly for export to the USA because people here just don’t care what they put in their bodies as long as it’s cheap. Sad.

  36. Hillary says...

    Well, I will never heed any food recommendations from Cara! The Beyond Burger is the most delicious and everyone knows it.

  37. Amy says...

    As someone who’s been vegetarian, then vegan, for most of my life I found this fascinating! Thanks, Cara! Though I have to say…I still always make my own! A whole red onion, 2 cans of any beans you want, 3 cloves of garlic, a handful of walnuts. Pulse in the food processor. Stir in a TON of Trader Joe’s umami seasoning and half flour, half gluten to get the texture right. Grill away!

  38. Alison says...

    My husband and I did a taste off of three burgers offered from a local vegan ‘burger’ restaurant – one of them uses an impossible base, but with house made seasoning … a key addition! To him, as a meat eater, it was pretty dang good and it also hit my craving for a very classic burger. However, their beet burger (yes, bright pink and made of shredded beets) is absolutely phenomenal and SO tasty. It’s not playing at being a fake meat burger and I LOVE it. I think the restaurant concept is great in that everything is vegan or vegetarian, and the impossible burger is helping bring meat eating folks in who would otherwise be turned off by a vegan restaurant – but it’s NOT all they offer. Their house made stuff is oh, so good… wow, now I’m hungry. :)

    (If anyone is in Kansas City and want’s to give it a go – https://piratesboneburgers.com/ they’re open Fri-Sun during Covid and have online ordering.)

    • Katherine says...

      I used to live in KC and never went there but always heard about it! That said, I always felt like KC had the best vegetarian options. From Beer Kitchen to Cafe Gratitude, to Chai Shai to Waldo PIzza. I live in Denver now and miss the restaurants of KC so much!

    • Alison says...

      Katherine – I think when/if we move, some of these local places will be the things I miss the most. We live only a few blocks away from Chai Shai so we can walk there :) and while I don’t love the ordering at Cafe Gratitude (a little too cheesy for me), their food is TOP notch!

      Have you had any of Good Bread Denver’s donuts? They serve them at Lula Rose’s coffee shop if you haven’t … amazing!!

  39. A says...

    I agree with the comments saying these aren’t “veggie burgers,” these are plant-based meat alternatives, or fake meat burgers. I think there’s a big difference- veggie burgers are things like garden burger, black bean burgers, portabello burgers, etc (things that are intended to taste like veggies, not like beef). Not saying there isn’t room for both, but I think the wording is off. I love beef burgers and I love actual veggie burgers and would be so annoyed if I ordered a veggie burger and was served a fake meat burger! And while I haven’t tried most of these, I did have Beyond and thought it was horrendous and tasted like a Salisbury steak tv dinner from my 80s childhood. And the texture was so bouncy and weird and gross.

  40. Julia says...

    I 100% agree with the rating of Beyond vs. Impossible. I love Impossible meat, but I really can’t stomach Beyond, and I am not usually a picky eater. I’ve wondered whether some people (like me) have a sort of cilantro-reaction to Beyond, where they can taste something that other people don’t notice. That’s really the only explanation I can come up with why some people don’t mind eating Beyond. The smell reminds of of rotten wet cat food.

    • Erin says...

      Yes, I had the same cat food association! So strongly that I’m hesitant to buy any other “burgers”. I’ll have to give Impossible another go!

  41. Betsy B says...

    Beyond sucks big time as far as flavor. Impossible sucks because of the crap ingredients, it’s hardly food lol.

    Impossible tastes better, but it’s genetically modified majority processed with tons of preservatives and chemicals, Beyond does not appear to be GMO. What’s the point of preserving the earth but not ourselves ? Don’t current generations matter ?

    So I’m back to seeking a tasty non GMO bean veggie based patty. I’m tired of Boca burger and Morningstar stuff. Praegers Cali burger is just ok not yum yum. One I liked at Costco is Don Lee Farms Chipotle black burger organic. My only issue with it is it contains soy. It’s not GMO soy, but still soy is bad for the thyroid if you have hypothyroidism.

  42. Sarah says...

    I’m sure Cara knows her stuff, but when it comes to a taste test like this, I’d prefer the judge be as inexperienced (read: impartial) as possible. Sort of like in the “Soulmates” episode of Parks & Rec, when Donna, Jerry, and Kyle are the trusted, unbiased burger judges.

  43. Lauren says...

    I am a meat-eater— a few times a week, anyway. Today I ordered a veggie burger at a restaurant because I actually wanted a veggie burger, not a beef burger. I was presented with an imitation meat disk and it was so gross. Why would anyone want that? Veggie burgers, portabello mushroom burgers, etc. are so good and I will often choose them over a beef burger on the menu. I really doubt that meat eaters will start going for this heavily processed stuff! It’s definitely not a beef burger and will never be as good! But with creativity and availability, actual vegetable sandwiches/ burgers might increase in popularity. I haven’t read the research but I can’t imagine that something so fake is good for human bodies or the environment. Plus it’s pretty nasty,

    • Chrystian says...

      Comparing to meat burgers, those plant based are better for the environment. About the human body, they usually are bad in a different way (high sodium), but meat burgers are also no good. About the taste, I found a brand that could fool some people, and others said it didn’t taste like meat but was good.

  44. Rosemarie says...

    I was surprised to see such a disdain for Beyond Meat, a 1/5 versus 5/5, when compared to Impossible. I also like Impossible a bit more than Beyond, but I don’t interpret THAT big of a difference. That said, I choose to buy Beyond Meat instead of Impossible because it’s made from pea protein and not tofu; I only buy organic, non-GMO tofu and Impossible’s ingredients do not cite organic sourcing. (I’ll paste a link, below, to a brief article about the negative effects of non-organic tofu for reference.) I do realize the pea protein is likely not derived from organic peas, but in splicing these food battles, I’ll choose the non-organic peas over non-organic tofu. Sigh.

    Our daughter is a vegetarian and does not like the taste of Dr. Praeger’s and other bean-based patties. She was at first weirded out to taste “meat” when we initially made Beyond Burgers, but she now enjoys them, and we do, too, once in awhile. I no longer make turkey burgers as a result of this product, and I’m happy for that. This product has helped our whole family’s process of scaling way back on meat consumption.

    https://pumpsandiron.com/2014/06/23/why-its-important-to-buy-organic-non-gmo-tofu/

    • Kara says...

      I agree! Impossible is #1 when it comes to this genre of food, but Beyond tastes pretty good and “beefy” for a home-grilled faux-beef burger. They are strange when raw–I had to Google what the white bits were, and then honestly I think coconut fat makes great sense as a substitute for animal fat–but cook up nicely.

    • Rosemarie says...

      Oops, I realize I should’ve said soy protein and not tofu.

  45. Milou says...

    Thank you for this!

    As a vegetarian (occasionally vegan) for 32 years I was intrigued when I started reading about the new meat alternatives. I have yet to try any of the above, mostly because I live a few blocks from Superiority Burger (definitely lives up to the hype!), but it’s great too have info on the the options out there, especially as a lot of the non-meat products are pretty pricy.

    Along this line, would you consider doing a vegan cheese test? I’m so curious about all the different varieties, but they are not cheap and especially in these times I’m reluctant to lay out for something I may toss.

    • Sarah S says...

      YES! I came to the comment to profess my love for Superiority Burger! So tasty

    • DC says...

      Milou, the Field Roast/Chou brand Tomato Cayenne vegan cheese is definitely worth it! And the Follow Your Heart shredded cheese melts pretty well, too. I’d love to see what a taste test from Cup of Jo thinks!

  46. Lydia says...

    Shake shack has the best vegetarian burger I’ve had. It’s an actual real-life portobello mushroom with melted cheese syringed INSIDE. (Ok I don’t know for sure that a syringe is involved) The cheese shoots out when you bite into the burger. Oozalicious. I’d like to recreate this burger at home but with Comte cheese (TM).

  47. Natasha says...

    I haven’t tried all of these, but of the ones I’ve tried, I agree that Impossible Burger is the best. I made empanadas with it a few weeks ago, and I think they would have fooled carnivores.

  48. I’ve had both the beyond and impossible burgers and IMO there’s no comparison for taste- if you live somewhere with a Bareburger their impossible burger is excellent.

    In terms of the effect of meat consumption on planetary health, research shows that there could be a substantial impact of Westerners cutting meat from their diet. Most meat is not processed in ways that are sustainable and environmentally friendly, and the process of getting that meat from the animal on the farm to your plate contributes to green house gas emissions, biodiversity loss and excessive water and land use. Red meat is the worst offender in many areas (greenhouse gas emissions and land use, for example.)

    That said, impossible burgers, beyond burgers and the like are not necessarily healthier for you. If you want to tackle both issues (planetary and personal health), you’re better off swapping a meat-based meal for a plant based one where your protein is lentil, chickpeas or other non-animal/non-processed alternatives. The main benefit of swapping to a veggie burger is to improve planetary health.

    Source: Lancet Planetary Health Commision ‘Food in the Anthropocene’ – which was published in 2019 and can be accessed by the link below (must register but it’s free from what I can tell.) I also took a nutrition course for my MPH last summer with a great lecturer on this topic :)

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31788-4/fulltext

  49. Colleen S says...

    I love the Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers. I don’t think they smell weird, but that’s probably because it’s a veggie burger. I only eat hamburgers when I go out, and even then, I’m trying not to eat beef anymore.

  50. Jackie says...

    The Cowboy Quinoa Burgers from Trader Joe’s are the bees knees. Add the avocado tzatziki. And if you’re in Louisville, Kentucky, the veggie burger from the totally unassuming, greasy spoon called Shady Lane Cafe is amazing.

    • danielle says...

      They are so good! For many months my go to lunch was the southwest salad and those burgers. They are also great with an egg for breakfast. They remind me of the Southwestern Egg rolls from Chili’s that I adored as a twenty-something who worked at the mall.

  51. Gill F. says...

    While I love that companies are trying to encourage folks to eat less meat (I’m a vegan so this is dear to my heart!) I’m so over these types of burgers replacing traditional veggie burgers in restaurants. So many restaurants either only offer things like Impossible burgers or Beyond Burgers, or, even worse, they took away really great veggie burgers and replaced them with these. Some of us just want a good traditional, veggie or bean packed burger! And it’s not even a health thing…I love junk food and processed food as much as the next person. I also just really love a good veggie burger here and there. For anyone who is in a similar boat, some of my favorite brands (and I’m also gluten free so that shapes my choices) are Dr. Praeger’s (their California burger is awesome) and Hilary’s (we’ve tried a few but their cauliflower burger was especially great, even as a cauliflower hating human).

    • Bee says...

      Totally agree! So many restaurants only offer this as their veggie choice, and I’m looking for a veggie burger that actually tastes like…veggies!

    • Lauren E. says...

      Yes, totally agree. My mom is a vegetarian and hasn’t eaten meat in thirty years, and she said the consistency of these burgers really grosses her out. I wish restaurants would offer both. Even as a meat eater, I love a great veggie burger.

    • Nicole says...

      Agree. I really like Impossible burgers, and used to like Beyond meat before they changed the formula to “more meaty”- preferred the old ones. BUT, I also really love restaurants’ takes on homemade veggie burgers/black bean burgers. And I absolutely love the Pragers California burgers- nothing like a burger, but just regular old ingredients like actual vegetables. But, I am wholeheartedly in favor of people eating less meat, so whatever works!

  52. Hilary says...

    I agree with some others that I don’t see the appeal of faux-meat, but I do love a good veggie burger! My favorite homemade ones are Minimalist Baker’s black bean burgers. They freeze really well too which is always a plus. For store-bought, I love Trader Joe’s cowboy quinoa burgers (great topped with guac) and their vegetable masala burger. I’d love to find a good store-bought black bean burger if anyone has any recs!

    • Briana says...

      engine 2 poblano black bean burgers are my favorite so far. i have found them at whole foods.

    • Colleen says...

      Are they crunchy? I don’t like anything crunchy in burgers.

  53. Loved this taste test! I’ve had Impossible Burgers from different restaurants and they’re always great!

  54. Julia says...

    Just….make them yourself? There are a ton of delicious veggie burger recipes!

  55. Amanda says...

    Respectfully, there is no such thing as “humanely raised meat” if the animal is eventually slaughtered. Is your craving worth the suffering and death of a living being? Not to mention the environmental impact.

    I prefer a true veggie burger, but I think these alternatives are great. Most of them are replacing fast food-style burgers, which aren’t healthy to begin with, so why should these be any different? The bottom line is that they remove animal suffering and are better for the environment to boot.

    • AE says...

      I mean, you say “respectfully” followed by a statement of fact about something that is not fact. You’re point of views on meat consumption, as a matter of fact, are super Western centric and is full of assumptions and erasures of cultures that existed long before yours and that will likely continue well after. Just because it’s right for you doesn’t make it right.

    • Amanda says...

      AE, I’m not sure I understand what point you’re trying to make here. I think it’s pretty clear that this is my opinion, but I’m also not sure how you can argue that killing anything is humane, unless the being is actively suffering. “Just because it’s right for you doesn’t make it right,” could easily be said for your statement (which also isn’t fact). My concern will always be about the animals, not for any culture that perpetuates violence and dominance over them. Not all traditions are good. As for my views being “Western centric”? There are plenty of non-Western cultures out there that have been plant-based long before it became a thing in the Western world. I would say the movement toward a non-violent diet draws its inspiration from those cultures, so are they wrong, too, just because you disagree?

    • CR says...

      Amanda – thank you!
      AE: The western style of animal agriculture, slaughter, and transport of animals is the problem. It is inhumane. Period. It is the lives of these animals, rather than their deaths, that is true suffering. Amanda was likely commenting on the state of meat production in the U.S. and not on other cultures.

      Assuming you are based in the US, unless you are traveling to other countries to buy your meat or are buying from only small farmers/never eating meat at restaurants, then it is a fact to say that your meat is inhumane. It caused suffering for the entire life of an animal and is bad for the environment.

    • Hollye says...

      I agree with below. Humane certifications are a step in the right direction. I’m a vegetarian, but not because I find eating meat inherently bad, but because I have a huge issue with the quality of life for an animal in a factory farming scenario, and the pollution that they cause. I applaud humane certifications, and wish people in the west would treat meat like the luxury it should be.

      I think there’s a world of difference between my great-grandmother slaughtering a chicken from her backyard to feed her family and the way that animals are treated at a Tyson factory in America.

    • Hollye says...

      Actually, I’m going to retract my comment. After more research, I’ve learned that although the “Humanely Raised” certification is SLIGHTLY better than none at all, it’s still pretty bleak. Plant based diet it shall be!

  56. ANDREA says...

    I don’t eat meat, so it’s been odd to have these types of burgers on restaurant menus. Meat eaters get really excited about them, but they don’t taste great to me compared to a good vegetable burger (as an aside, I hate the word veggie). I’ll eat them if it’s the only option, but meh…

    I do really appreciate having an option for a burger and a beer at more places, though.

  57. Jane says...

    This was interesting to read! We try to live by the Michael Pollan mantra “eat real/unprocessed foods, not too much, mostly plants” – pretty sure these meat alternatives wouldn’t pass the first part of that test, but I’m glad that they are trying to move people in right direction!

    Mostly I wanted to comment because I know the CoJ staff loves my city of Austin. The next time y’all visit, the Hippie Burger at Pool Burger is BY FAR the best veggie burger I have ever eaten it is SO GOOD OMG. (and is a true veggie burger, not faux meat)

    • Kelsey says...

      thanks for this! I’m from Austin but live in AZ. Looove a great veggie burger and can’t wait to try this one (when I can visit home again).

  58. Alicia says...

    This isn’t a comparison of veggie burgers. This is a comparison of plant-based meat alternative patties, which, as a vegetarian, I find pretty gross. Who wants their veggies to taste like the thing you don’t like eating? Real “veggie” burgers are burgers made of vegetables that aren’t trying to be meat – like the original Garden Burger and varieties by Dr. Praeger’s, Morningstar Farms, etc. My current favorite “veggie” burger is the Chipotle Black Bean Burger by Gardein (runner up is Morningstar Farms “Spicy Black Bean Burger”. Do a taste test with those, and you won’t be disappointed!

    https://www.gardein.com/beefless-and-porkless/gluten-free/chipotle-black-bean-burger

    • Kerry says...

      But many people become vegetarians for animal rights reasons or environmental reasons, not because they didn’t like the taste of meat, right? That was my situation, so these fake meat burgers are right up my alley. People kept telling me that I’d lose the taste for meat but it’s been over two decades and I don’t think that’s happening.

      Anyway, thanks for the recommendations about the real “veggie” burgers — I like those too :-)

    • jules says...

      So true. But it’s a play to help meat eaters eat less meat vs. trying to serve current vegetarians. The numbers of vegetarians in the US has remained stable over the last decades. To reduce animal consumption or eco impact, we need meat eaters to eat less meat.

    • Gill F. says...

      So I will say I’m a vegan that also doesn’t really like this type of burgers, and I much prefer a good solid veggie packed burger. But everyone likes different stuff and the best response I’ve ever seen to this question (and it’s asked a lot…especially by meat eaters who wonder why non meaters want to eat something that tastes like meat) is…it’s the same reason people use dildos. Ya don’t want the real thing, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want it in some form. As a queer vegan, the analogy makes me giggle and it makes an excellent point!

    • Bee says...

      I would love a taste test of proper veggie burgers!

  59. Jennifer says...

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 24 years at this point, so just like was pointed out in the article I cannot stand the beefy veggie burgers. And Dr. Praegers gets so soggy and gummy. That being said, if I’m not going to make my own, Hillary’s has been a reliable crowd pleaser. They only come two to a box, and they are all kinds of allergen-free, but they have a crisp texture, stay together, and are pleasantly flavorful. Would recommend!

    • Kerry says...

      I’ve been a vegetarian for 23 years and LOVE fake meat, especially fake meat burgers. Different strokes :-)

  60. Sarah says...

    I eat meat but am always trying to eat less of it. I love a food impossible burger with cheese! I know it’s not health food, but it’s a good junk food alternative. For those in the Boston area looking for some great vegan food (including the impossible burger) check out my brother’s restaurant Rhythm n wraps!
    http://www.rhythmnwraps.com

  61. Michelle says...

    This was fun! I’m not a vegetarian but I try to reduce my meat consumption where I can. I recently bought some veggie burgers to keep in the freezer for a quick quarantine meal. It’s not terribly unhealthy and for me, the burger is a vessel for the pickles, tomato, and mustard!

  62. R says...

    Would be great if, in these product comparison posts, you could list the price per unit (so it’s easier to compare). Thanks!

  63. Lauren says...

    This is such an interesting discussion! Personally I prefer actual *veggie* burgers over faux-meat but I get the appeal for others who are going vegan cold-turkey (excuse the pun) and miss the taste of beef. One of my favorite veggie burgers comes from a neighborhood pub in my area (from The Lowery in Sunnyside Queens, if anyone’s local! Theirs is excellent, with sweet potatoes, black beans, and a little beet — perfect sweet/umami mix and really gets nice and craggy-crusty on the griddle) …but I also LOVE the frozen masala burgers from Trader Joe’s! I’m not sure which company they are a dupe for, but dang are they tasty!!

  64. Tess says...

    Love this! As a fairly recent vegetarian I am a huge fan of this trend, which helps me scratch that burger itch when nothing else will do. If I have to eat one more sad, carb-packed black bean and rice burger while everyone else at the table is having a juicy beef burger, I might cry. Yay for better fake meat options!

  65. Jo says...

    Glad to see CoJ highlighting vegan alternatives for meat eaters looking to reduce meat intake but who still might want a burger!! I’ve been vegan for a few years and living in LA I’m very spoiled by the innumerable options for both faux meat burgers and veggie-laden veggie burgers even within my hungry 20-minute drive ratio :)

  66. Sarah says...

    Thank your for also addressing the fact that these non-meat options are still HIGHLY processed. The ingredients lists on these give me the chills! I can see where they have their place (esp nice to have the option not to eat factory farmed meat if you’re traveling/ stuck in a wasteland with only fast food options and they offer the Impossible burgers) but for me personally they are still in no way a “healthy” choice.

  67. C says...

    My son, vegan since birth and now 15, started eating Beyond burgers a few months back. He loves them and I must say, I think they are rather delicious too. We taste tested the Impossible and Beyond and hands down, chose Beyond.
    We don’t eat them very much and only buy them to support a local vegan restaurant. What’s most important to me are, who the company is and what they put in their products. I don’t know about others, but I’d rather support a small, local organic farmer than any of these huge corporations with questionable ethics and ingredients. I’d love our conversations to be headed more and more in this direction. Who are we choosing to support and why. Put our money and support behind those that are putting their heart into their creations.
    There are a ton of new vegan/vegetarian cookbooks out there too! I’d recommend:
    East
    Vegetable Kingdom
    And an up and coming plant based Japanese one by Hachisu

    • mockginger says...

      We also really love Beyond Burgers! And they’re much easier to find in our area than any others on this list. I will say they have a distinct non-meat scent until cooked, but I have served these to several people who didn’t know they weren’t real meat. I do appreciate the additional options to try though once they become more prevalent in our rural area.

    • Lauren says...

      We love Beyond Burgers too! I was really surprised to read such a negative review here, we find them to be super tasty (I am pescatarian, my partner is omnivore). Also, bonus, they sell them at Costco for a much better deal.

    • MS says...

      Have to say we love Beyond Burgers too and fully expected them to win this contest! We buy Beyond’s version of ground beef, and then make our own patties, based on our regular cheeseburger recipe — garlic, breadcrumbs, milk, etc. The burgers taste so good, like real beef burgers, just less of a gut bomb. A hit with our whole family, even my super-meat-obsessed husband!

  68. Julia C says...

    I LOVE the Dr. Praeger Kale Veggie patties because they actually taste like a delicious mix of kale and spinach. I don’t really care for veggie burgers that taste and look like meat but if it will make people live more sustainably, I’m all for it.

    • I feel the same way – I gave up eating meat because I don’t like it (the texture, mouthfeel and the gristly bits). I haven’t tried the Kale ones, but Dr. P’s California version is my favorite.

  69. Katy says...

    I haven’t eaten meat since I was 12 (and am now 40!) and for the majority of my life it was hard to find any sort of veggie burger anywhere I went. I appreciate all of the options out there these days, and LOVE the Impossible burger. I don’t necessarily need something to taste like meat (I honestly don’t remember what it tastes like) but just enjoy the taste and feel of a big juicy plant based burger. I’ve found that most veggie burgers made of veggies/beans are very crumbly, so these newer versions are enjoyable as they don’t crumble as much. Enjoyed this taste test!

  70. Maryn says...

    My husband and I have loved eating plant-based “meat” lately! We’ve enjoyed both Lightlife and Impossible. We haven’t tried the beef as burgers yet, but we love to have it with stir fries and pasta.

    • Jeanne says...

      I like Lightlife too. Right now that’s my favorite faux meat burger. It doesn’t look great in the package but I think it has the best flavor.

  71. Melissa says...

    Heads up that this post didn’t include a “read more” link for me. I needed to click “Comments” to expand the post.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thank you, fixed!

  72. Denise says...

    I don’t get the fake meat fad. Eat your veggies, eat your lean, humanely raised & slaughtered beef. Don’t try and make the veggies taste like meat. So weird.

    • DC says...

      But given a choice, why wouldn’t you pick the option that doesn’t slaughter cows?

    • Cara says...

      I see your point, Denise, and I can relate to feeling weird about fake meat. Would eating a diet full of vegetables, grains, legumes, and other nutritious whole foods be healthier than one filled with heavily processed fake meat patties? Of course. However, health is not always the prime motivation behind the decision to stop eating meat.

      That said, there are many people, myself included, who feel that the notion of “humanely raised & slaughtered beef” is an impossibility. In other words, we feel that the act of killing animals when we do not need to is inherently inhumane. I do not often opt for fake meat, but I understand that it can make the transition to a vegetarian/vegan diet easier for those who enjoy the taste of a meat burger but are ethically opposed to eating animals.

      In moderation, I think that fake meat products can be part of a balanced and healthy diet (and who among us–meat-eaters or not–can say that their diet is perfectly healthy 24/7?), and I will loudly applaud anything that reduces the number of animals slaughtered for the enjoyment of our taste buds.

    • Hi Denise,

      Even humane/locally raised beef has a significant negative impact on planetary health through land use and greenhouse gas emissions. So while processed plant-based burgers aren’t the healthiest for consumers, they do have a much smaller impact on the planet and are a good alternative for meat eaters who don’t like veggie burgers/don’t want to give up meat because they prefer the taste. The Impossible burger tastes more like meat than any other plant-based food I have tried (personally.) I think that’s the specific person Impossible burgers are being marketed to- someone who likes the taste of meat but wants a product that has less impact on the environment.

    • C says...

      Well… I always think that if it helps people transition, I’m all for it! Also my teen kiddo who has never eaten a bite of meat was curious. I’d rather him dive into a Beyond burger phase than an eating cow phase! When he shared one with his very carnivorous friend, his friend was amazed and has now started eating those a bit. Every bit helps!
      I’m not super into them either but I’m happy there’s a choice. I just really wish they had gone all the way and sourced their ingredients responsibly.

  73. katie says...

    I honestly don’t see or understand the point of eating a meat alternative that is overly processed. Is it convenience?

    Then again, I’m an ingredient reader. For example, I won’t buy the majority of hummus brands because the ingredient list is insane.

    I’d rather see a focus on locally sourced, real food to reduce the carbon footprint than a focus on processed foods. Or, see more simple bean and grain forward recipes. I’ve greatly limited our meat intake and have found great alternatives to feel satisfied and full. For example, this week we made a chickpea salad for lunches that is delicious. It literally took about 10 minutes to make.

    • Jenny says...

      For what it’s worth, whether a food is local or not doesn’t have all that much impact on its carbon footprint. The type of food and production definitely does, though!

      “Transportation as a whole represents only 11% of life-cycle GHG emissions, and final delivery from producer to retail contributes only 4%. Different food groups exhibit a large range in GHG-intensity; on average, red meat is around 150% more GHG-intensive than chicken or fish. Thus, we suggest that dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than “buying local.” Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food.”
      https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es702969f

    • Hi Katie,

      Studies have shown local sourcing of meats does not significantly reduce the impact of meat on the environment. Studies do show, however, that while there’s no nutritional benefit of meat alternatives to meat, it does have a substantially smaller carbon footprint.

      This Lancet commission is very detailed and technical but should have more info: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31788-4/fulltext

      Note that I don’t have a source for this but got the information from a lecture I took in nutrition last summer at Harvard’s school of Public Health. Will try to find the source of this information and add it later :)

  74. Susan says...

    I’ve always wanted to do this taste test with my meat-eating friends (my partner and I are vegetarian/vegan)! I have to admit—I’ve returned my impossible burger on several occasions @ restaurants thinking it was real meat. I’m surprised by the really low vote w/ Beyond Meat burger. I actually love those on the grill, especially how big & juicy they are. I love the impossible burger at restaurants (now that I don’t return them…but still it kind of freaks me out). Gardein is also our favorite when we want something quick on the stovetop. Anyway—how fun!

    • Amanda says...

      These look awesome, thanks Karen!

    • Anna says...

      Thank you Karen! Looks great.

  75. NM says...

    The black bean burger at Frita Batidos in Ann Arbor (and now Detroit!) is hands down the best I’ve ever had. Especially topped with a fried egg.

    • Anna says...

      Ooh!! To add to the local black bean burger list if your in the Memphis area check out LOBE or Babalu for yummy black bean burgers! ♥️

  76. Ellen says...

    My favorite wasn’t included so I’ll add it here: Fieldburgers from Fieldroast. They are big, juicy, and so flavorful. And very craggy. We usually cook them in a cast iron pan on the stovetop, and serve with crispy lettuce, mayo, pickle, mustard. Personally, I don’t care for the ones that try to taste like meat, they give me a dog food vibe. Fieldroast uses wholesome ingredients. I find them at Wegmans in the natural
    food freezer section. The downside is the packaging—I wish they’d put a little parchment between each patty because they can be hard to get apart.

    • Kelsey says...

      Came here to say this! Fieldroast is delicious.

    • Annie says...

      I love FieldRoast burgers too…the umami flavor is amazing! But I’ve found them hard to find lately.

    • Erin says...

      I’ve only had the Field Roast sausage, but it is AMAZING!

  77. Jeannie says...

    Also agreed! We go with Morning Star Black Bean Burgers for our meat-alternative burgers. We haven’t liked any of the others that much (including the Impossible Burger).

  78. Christina says...

    This taste test made me laugh so much. Thank you!! I can’t wait to try the impossible.

  79. celeste says...

    I enjoyed reading this and will have a meat alternative in the future.

  80. Jess says...

    Agree 100% – I bought the beyond burgers at Costco a few months ago to try for my vegetarian husband, and I almost gagged at the smell & taste. Hard pass. Thank you for also pointing out that they are super processed, not the healthiest option. For a fantastic veggie burger, try roasting veggies, black beans, & walnuts in the oven and then mixing in some garlic salt, brown rice & breadcrumbs. Doesn’t taste like meat but is really delicious and satisfying.

  81. Erin says...

    As a vegetarian of over 5 years now, I’ve tried almost every brand and agree that the dr praegers are BAD. They are so dry. I’ve never tried sweet earth burgers, but I have tried their other “meats” and they are pretty good. Impossible is good for sure, I like beyond burgers at restaurants but haven’t tried making them at home. I like pretty much everything Gardein makes! My favorite brand lately is Quorn, especially their “chicken” patties!

  82. diana K. says...

    I’d had the impossible burger and felt really confused that it wasn’t meat. My mom had one once and nearly got into a fight with the waiter on whether or not it was in fact a veggie burger. As awful as the Dr. Praeger’s review is, their VEGGIE veggie burgers are fantastic. Meat-pretending is a tough game.

  83. Shron says...

    This trend is driving me crazy. I don’t eat red meat at all b/c I hate the taste. Now that these meat-tasting alternatives are out there, it’s hard to find a real ‘veggie’ burger at any restaurant or burger place, and turkey burgers seem to have disappeared entirely. My favorite is the Garden Burger, but they’re now hard to find. Costco’s veggie burgers are good too.

    • Sasha L says...

      I don’t like *fake* meat either, just garden burgers, the boring kind that have been around forever. I’m hoping all of these choices don’t put them out of business. Or that the couple places I like to go out for a burger and fries and shake keep garden burgers and don’t switch.

    • Bailey says...

      That’s my biggest problem too! Nearly all the restaurants have replaced their delicious homemade veggie and bean burgers with Impossible burgers. Yuck! Fine for the meat eaters, but what about the vegetarians?

  84. Hilary says...

    Such a fun taste test! We are about 80% vegetarians and I have to say, after a lot of taste testing myself, I actually prefer a veg burger that doesn’t try to mimic meat. Embrace the veggies!

    For anyone in SF or traveling there (um, who does that?) The Plant Organic Cafe has THE. BEST. veg burger. They have a few locations in the city and also in the airport! Win win!

  85. Kelly says...

    Here to agree that the Impossible Burger lives up to the hype. We are a “flexitarian/reducitarian” household, trying to limit meat and eat more vegetarian/vegan meals where we can, but we still eat the occasional burger. Options available in the past have ranged from horrible hockey pucks (most frozen patties) to good-but-definitely-not-a-burger (like, I love restaurant veggie burgers made of beans/corn, but they taste nothing like burgers). No, the Impossible Burger probably won’t fool you, but the taste and texture is close enough IMO that we really don’t miss the real thing. Topped with some caramelized onions and cheese–YUM. (Note: not affiliated with Impossible Meat in any way, just really love the stuff!)

  86. Heather says...

    I love this idea, but wish it had been more focused on options filled with vegetables. Those are generally the ones I love the most – where its not really trying to imitate normal beef.

    At home, we love Dr. Praeger’s – specifically the California and Super Green options – even our 3 and 5 year olds eat them up!

  87. emily says...

    I actually like veggie burgers, like real vegetables (corn, black beans, etc.) in a patty shape that tastes like the ingredients and aren’t trying to be fake meet. The fact that most of these options came in at 0/5 or 1/5 means I’ll be giving this a hard pass.

    Fun to read regardless!

    • Kelly says...

      Same! I like the beans/corn ones on their own, not as a poor substitution for meat.

    • Katie says...

      Yes! Same for me. I stopped eating beef, pork, and poultry 25 years ago and the taste of any of it mostly makes me gag. I love this trend to reduce meat consumption, but I’m selfishly worried that the veggie burgers of yore are going to disappear in favor of these beef impersonating burgers. It was always nice to know that, in a pinch, i could stop at Burger King on a road trip and get a microwaved veggie burger (I think they were Morningstar?) that, while not great, would taste reasonable enough and do what it needed to do. Now they’ve switched to Impossible burgers, which taste like what i remember a bad fast food burger tasting like. I also think they’re cooked on the grill with the other burgers, which means they’re not vegetarian anyway. So basically that option is out. All of this to say that this isn’t a huge deal in the scheme of things, but it’s kind of disappointing for those of us that have no interest in things that taste like beef.

  88. Lia says...

    A few weeks ago I ordered some Seemore sausages from Goldbelly since I wasn’t finding an easy way to source them where Iive and they are so good. Funny to see this :)

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      They are so good. My fave is the beet-pork-fennel.

  89. Lisa says...

    My husband and I love impossible burgers (though they are expensive)! I too am not a fan of Dr. Praeger’s, they tend to be quite dry.

  90. Thank you so much for examining meat alternatives! I grew up in a home where we didn’t eat meat, and I currrently identify as 98% vegan… meaning I occasionally enjoy meat or dairy, but my day-to-day lifestyle is vegan. I’ve never felt like “fake meats” are that satisfying, and I also don’t like the implication that a meal is somehow incomplete without meat and therefore a stand-in is necessary. *However*— as stated in this post— if a “fake meat” helps someone live a more sustainable lifestyle, I’m all for it. So— thank you!

    • Maire says...

      I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, but I try to limit my meat consumption to only once or twice a week, so I have been making these black bean burgers every week- I eat them for lunches or breakfasts in a tortilla with cheese and salsa. So delicious and pretty minimal prep time.