Eating vegetarian food doesn’t have to be a bland experience. Perhaps the most popular trend in meatless products is the veggie burger, which has been adopted by vegetarians and dieters alike. The low fat content and reduced calorie count of these products has attracted a new market, the body conscious consumers, leading companies to expand their product lines with variations such as “chick’n” patties, corndogs and meatless crumbles for use in recipes (these resemble ground beef).
Created in Boca Raton, Florida, Boca is the best known brand in America and corners the market with their Flame Grilled meatless burgers. Each patty contains 14 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, just 120 calories and five grams of fat – 65% less than its beef counterpart. Additional flavors include Original Vegan, Grilled Vegetable, Cheeseburger and the All American Classic. The lowest calorie offering is the Original Vegan which contributes a mere 70 calories. The main ingredient in Boca burgers is soy protein.
Another well known brand is Morningstar Farms which also uses soy protein as its main ingredient. While Morningstar Farms also offers a grilled version of the veggie burger called Grillers Prime, the principal advantage of the brand is their nontraditional flavor variety. This is an extremely appealing offering for the consistent vegetarians and dieters who need some variety in their lives. Creative flavor profiles include Asian Veggie Patties featuring water chestnuts for an appealing texture, Chipotle Black Bean Burger for a southwestern kick (also available in spicy), California Turk’y Burgers (still meatless!) featuring avocado and tomatoes, the Mushroom Lover’s, and for when you’re really thinking Italian, the Tomato and Basil Pizza Burger. Morningstar Farms products offer comparable nutrition values to that of Boca burgers.
Quorn is the least known of the three because it originated in the United Kingdom. The brand has been around since 1985 but only made its U.S. debut in 2002. The principal difference between Quorn, Boca and Morningstar Farms is the main ingredient. Where the other two employ soy protein, Quorn’s main ingredient is mycoprotein, giving it a meatier, umami texture. Myco is from the Greek, meaning fungi. Quorn offers just three flavors of burgers: Classic, Cheese and Vegan; their primary focus is their “chick’n” line which offers breaded patties, a variety of flavored cutlets and nuggets. This might be the most appealing option for first timers looking to try a veggie burger because its texture and flavor most closely resembles beef while still being far lower in fat and calories.
Veggie burgers can be prepared stovetop in a skillet or quickly heated in the microwave. The taste leaders for the veggie burger market are Boca, Morningstar Farms and Quorn. Look for them in your grocer’s freezer section.