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What Are Vegan Burgers?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated Feb 04, 2024
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Vegans only eat foods that are not of animal origin. Instead of eating traditional beef burgers, vegans opt for vegan burgers that have a similar appearance and texture but which are made out of ingredients like soy, beans, or lentils. Cooking vegan burgers is similar to cooking meat burgers, although they may also be microwaveable, and they are suitable for eating in buns with condiments.

The bulking agents for a vegan burger are varied and depend on personal preference if cooked from scratch. The commercial vegan burgers generally contain protein extracted from soy along with wheat starch or gluten. Cooked lentils, beans, and bread crumbs from vegan bread are also options. Mushrooms and cooked whole grains are also suitable. These ingredients can be homogenized in a food processor or kept chunky for a more textured burger.

Eggs are traditional binding agents for many burgers, including vegetarian burgers. Mashed potatoes, sesame oil, or starch from corn or potato can help keep the other vegan ingredients together. Onions, garlic, and salt are common additions, but the imaginative home cook can add vegetables such as sweet corn, miso paste, or yeast extract to add depth of flavor.

Herbs and spices are vegan, and so a home cook can add whatever he or she fancies to the rest of the burger. Black pepper, cumin, and paprika are options. Fresh herbs like basil or parsley may also suit the palate of the cook.

Suitable toppings for a vegan burger are sliced tomato, fresh lettuce, and onions. Ketchup and mustard are vegan, as are hummus and other vegetable spreads. Peppers or aubergine slices roasted on a barbecue can also be tasty toppings.

Some vegan burgers may have been made from ingredients such as genetically modified (GMO) soy, which may be an important issue for vegans who do not wish to eat GMO foods. In addition, if a nonvegan is preparing vegan burgers for a vegan, he or she should be aware that common condiments such as mayonnaise contain eggs or milk, which are animal products and therefore not vegan.

Burger buns may also contain ingredients such as eggs. Vegan burgers may instead be served without a bun or wrapped in a leaf of lettuce to help keep the condiments together. Cooked sticky Japanese rice, shaped into thick rounds and fried, will also serve as a top and bottom bun, and a paper wrapping will help hold the ingredients together. Vegan bread, made without eggs or milk and commercially available, is another option for a bun.

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