Most people that have recently started their transition to plant based nutrition are looking for a “good” veggie burger. You know, the one that tastes like a “real” hamburger. What do you associate with the perfect burger? McDonalds BigMac? The Whopper? Backyard BBQ? Or a giant burger topped with bacon and cheese and onion rings and more cheese? In fact, their are several companies that advertise just that. They claim it tastes and looks like a real hamburger without the beef. They plate it with vegan cheese and onion rings. How can this be healthy? Some of the commercial products contain a similar amount of salt, protein, and fat that animal burgers contain. The source is plant fat and protein. One company even uses a genetically modified soy protein to make a plant form of heme so that the burger bleeds when you cut into it. These products are better for the animals, and better for the environment but are they really better for you? If it is sugar, salt, and fat in processed foods that caused your health problems in the first place, then the source doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is that these products are highly processed salty, oily foods.
Well, then how about making your own? This allows control the ingredients and you do not have to worry about preservatives. The first attempt at making a veggie burger usually goes like this. You find a recipe and mix all the ingredients together, or you try your own version of a recipe to hold vegetables and grains together. After baking them you serve them to the family and they say: “It doesn’t taste like a real burger”. Frustration sets in, or you begin the quest for the perfect veggie burger recipe. Most people are looking for a similar texture to meat that holds up on a bun.
So what is the solution? It resides between your ears. It is your perception about your nutrition. If you eat like you did before you were overweight and unhealthy, you will return to that state. If you were a bank robber, can you just keep your hand in the game and drive the get away car and stay out of trouble? Of course not. But as marketing will have it, there will alway be the temptation to cross over to the salty, oily, sugary foods and give them a different name. Perhaps the thought should not be about making a plant based version of a burger but about finding the veggie burger style that you like best. Judge between plant based choices versus the animal food counterpart. We do not compare vegetable soup to a chicken soup. It is it’s own entity. There is not a meat version of a kale salad. We don’t expect fish to taste like seaweed salad.
My three favorite vegetables patties are jackfruit , beet and chickpea. They are each in my menu rotations. I enjoy each for their unique qualities and how they pair with other vegetables or salads. I also enjoy experimenting with different beans, vegetables, and grain combinations. Some work better than others, but I enjoy each one for their own characteristics.
Remember it is a process to embrace and enjoy. The more you experiment, the more you will learn.