Switching to plant-based burgers (at least some of the time) makes a lot of sense, as reducing our red meat intake could help to reduce our risk of disease. Even if you’ve been heeding the Department of Health (DoH) advice to eat no more than 70g red meat a day (cooked weight) or around 500g a week to reduce your risk of bowel cancer, that still may not be enough to protect your health, warns nutrition editor Amanda Ursell.
‘Until now, the answer to how much red meat we should be eating has been pretty clear-cut,’ says Amanda. ‘However, recent research by the University of Oxford involving 500,000 British men and women has revealed that those sticking to the DoH advice still had a 20% higher chance of developing bowel cancer than those eating an average of 21g a day, which is the equivalent of two or fewer small servings per week.’
The key to cutting back is finding great-tasting alternatives that will
still satisfy. One easy swap through the summer months is finding a vegetarian burger you love. We tried out a few plant-based patties from the shops for taste and nutrition. Whether you’re looking for the best imitation of a classic meat burger or prefer an honest-to-goodness vegan variation, we’ve got some top picks for you to try.
Vegan Mushroom, Lentil & Quinoa Burgers, £1.99/2, Ocado
WHAT YOU GET: Firm patties made with mushrooms, quinoa, black lentils, tofu and soya protein, flavoured with onion, garlic and soy sauce.
THE HFG VERDICT: A good option for traditionalists trying to cut down on their meat intake and vegans alike. The smoky flavour of these patties and the meaty texture from the mushrooms make these a satisfying substitute. We like them best in a wholemeal bun with lettuce and ketchup.
Vivera Veggie Burgers, £2.50/2, Sainsbury’s vegan
WHAT YOU GET: Beetroot-tinted patties made with soya and wheat protein.
THE HFG VERDICT: In terms of appearance, taste and texture, these
are so close to the real thing that it’s hard to believe they’re not meat. Firm and crumbly but juicy all the same, these burgers are the perfect alternative for those missing meat. The score would be even higher if it weren’t for their high salt content – they really are that good.
BUDGET BEAN BURGER
Vegetarian Spicy Bean Burgers, £1.50/4, Asda
WHAT YOU GET: Made with a blend of haricot and kidney beans, carrots and green pepper, there’s no confusing these with a beef burger. Spiced with cumin, chilli powder and black pepper in a crispy crumb coating.
THE HFG VERDICT: While they have the highest calories per portion of our test group, the crispy coating means you won’t need a bun, and we liked the way you can see the beans when you bite into them. Plus, they’re the cheapest out of our test group.
Eden Curried Cauliflower Burgers, £2.50/2, Tesco vegan
WHAT YOU GET: Substantial golden-coloured burgers made
with cauliflower, sweet potato and carrots, spiced with turmeric.
THE HFG VERDICT: We were nicely surprised by the subtle flavour.
The sweet potato prevented them from being too dry. However, despite being the lowest in calories, they tied with M&S (below, left) in terms of their premium price-tag and salt content.
SWEET AND SPICY
Plant Kitchen Sweetcorn & Chickpea Burgers, £2.50/2, Marks & Spencer vegan
WHAT YOU GET: Burgers that are ready to pan-fry containing ample amounts of sweetcorn and chickpeas and seasoned with garlic, cumin and coriander.
THE HFG VERDICT: While the texture of these burgers was slightly mushy, we absolutely loved the blend of flavours in the seasoning and thought they’d taste even better served with a peppery rocket salad. Shame we had to mark them down a bit for salt content!
Vivera Veggie Quarter Pounders, £3.50/2, Sainsbury’s vegan
WHAT YOU GET: Dark golden-brown patties made with soya protein and flavoured with a sophisticated blend of 10 different herbs and spices, including cardamom and nutmeg.
THE HFG VERDICT: While the texture was slightly firm, we loved
how well these burgers were spiced and seasoned; they’d be perfect complemented by a drizzle of cool tzatziki. Unfortunately, these are high in saturates, which brought down the overall score.
Take a look at our healthy burger recipes for ways to use these plant-based products.