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Veggie Burgers Have Their Moment

Lukas Volger's Mushroom Barley Burger in all its glory

Lukas Volger’s Mushroom Barley Burger in all its glory

With all the delicious vegan fare options these days, I haven’t actually had a veggie burger for a long time. To me they’re more like the default menu option when traveling outside of vegan meccas or when having to make dinner from a box while camping. But lo and behold, people are still eating them, as evidenced from three recent New York Times stories. According to one of the articles, “across the country, chefs and restaurateurs have been taking on the erstwhile health-food punch line with a kind of experimental brio, using it as a noble excuse to fool around with flavor and texture and hue. As a result, veggie burgers haven’t merely become good. They have exploded into countless variations of good, and in doing so they’ve begun to look like a bellwether for the American appetite. If the growing passion for plant-based diets is here to stay, chefs — even in restaurants where you won’t find the slightest trace of spirulina — are paying attention.” (Ah yes, the writer worked in a spirulina reference, conjuring up the tired concept of vegetarianism being the territory of crusty hippies with a fondness for adding strange green powder to their food. Ho hum.)

The article listed some interesting ingredients in a variety of veggie burgers that chefs have created, including beets, which gave one patty a color reminiscent of rare meat (because, really, isn’t that what vegetarians want to visualize while eating mashed vegetables shaped into a patty?), prunes for sweetness and stickiness, wheatberries, and eggs (vegans beware — eggs were referenced as a way to hold the burger together and cheese was added for flavor by some chefs).

In the Diner’s Journal article the writer spoke with Veggie Burgers Every Which Way author Lukas Volger who gave by far the best quote of the three articles: “This isn’t just an approximation of a meat burger. It’s an expression of a vegetable.” The recipe for Volger’s Thai Carrot Burgers was included though the the egg whites would need to be substituted to make it suitable for vegans. For guidance, I’ll go consult Isa or Terry’s cookbooks. I did however find a recipe for Lukas’ Mushroom Barley Burger excerpted on the Ultimate Veggie Burgers blog that looked well worth checking out — and no ingredient swapping necessary for this one.

The third article offered a dining guide to veggie burgers in Manhattan, in which not one vegetarian restaurant was mentioned. It’s beyond me why they didn’t just go to the source and find out which veg restaurants are making soy-based burgers, mashing vegetables and grains together or grilling a portobella and serving it on a nice bun. And so I turn to my fellow SuperVegan readers to fill in the blanks: which veggie burgers, either served in a vegetarian restaurant or pre-packaged from a store, are your favorite expression of a vegetable?

5 Comments

  1. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    For frozen patties, I like Sunshine burgers–they’re not trying to be meatlike at all, and they’re delicious, nutritious, organic, and made of whole foods.

    For restaurant burgers, I dunno. Not sure I’ve had an amazing one in a while. But caramelized onions make up for a lot!

    Anyone got a favorite burger for grilling? I find most veggie burgers fall apart on the grill, or stick.

  2. Comment by

    Rich

    on #

    I never can understand why vegans eat food which emulates meat. Why?? There are so many delicious things a vegan can eat besides fake meat. Be creative.

  3. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    @Rich–exactly which animal produces fully-formed burgers?

    Patties are not now and never have been exclusively made from meat.

  4. Comment by

    tofu_hunter

    on #

    I really like the veggie burger at Lodge! It’s practically the only vegan thing on the menu, but it’s excellent. A good choice when dining with omni friends.

  5. Comment by

    Karen

    on #

    I never liked burgers when I ate meat. Hated them, but since I became a vegetarian I started to love veggie burgers. However when I became vegan it became dificult to find a good veggie burger.
    Well I’ve found one! I just had the bacon cheeseburger at V Note and it was the most amazing burger ever. The cheese was perfectly melted, the onions caramelized to perfection, even my meat eating friend loved it! Mmm I can’t wait to have anotherone!

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