Every Burger Deserves an Open Mind (and Mouth)

Posted on September 8, 2011 by Mickey

image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/muyyum/4378743612/

Back when I wouldn’t have considered it dinner unless it once exhibited free will and eyelids, I always wondered just how silly and delusional vegetarians must be to be choking down things like Tofurky and veggie dogs. I figured only a self-deluding idiot would eat a meat proxy and ignore the fact that by eating fake meat they are implicitly confirming their desire for the real thing. And why deny your body what it clearly wants?

Tofurky: For When You Want Turkey But You’re Too  Full of Hippie Self-Righteousness For the Real Thing!

It’s only now that I’ve gone mostly meatless (but willing to indulge my gustatory desires when the occasion calls for it) that I realize that vegetarianism isn’t about pretending to like all the faux-flesh products dreamed up by soy alchemists. It’s just about not eating meat. Pretty simple, really: If you don’t eat meat, you just don’t eat hot dogs; it doesn’t mean you have to find the closest approximation to a hot dog and pretend.

Which is why I find myself reflecting on the ideas I used to have about veggie burgers, because these days veggie burgers are a regular part of my diet. I love ‘em. I never look at them as a substitute for meat, either. It’s just a sandwich. After all, the classic grilled cheese is a meatless sandwich, and nobody has any hang-ups about that.

And there are so many different kinds of veggie burgers! From the Morningstar Farms brand alone I’ve enjoyed the Spicy Black Bean Burger (great topped with pineapple salsa,) Tomato and Basil Pizza Burger (some marinara and mozzarella really kill it,) and the Grillers Prime (okay, so they’re going for savory and meaty here, but it works for me.) Trader Joe’s sells a delicious veggie patty, too. Put any one of these on a good, whole-wheat bun with some tasty toppings (and a side of homemade fries, naturally) and you’ve got a delicious meal that’s healthier for both you and the planet (if you weren’t aware of the enormous environmental impact of meat production, have someone slap you in the face and then read this post immediately.) It’s an easy way to get a meatless meal into the rotation.

But don’t think of it as replacing a juicy, flame-grilled medium-rare beef burger. If beef is your thing, enjoy a burger, but make sure it’s a good one (why waste a perfectly good cow on a crappy burger?) And sometimes maybe mix it up and try a veggie burger. It doesn’t make you a hippie, just healthier.




  1. From my experience, the less the veggie “burger” tries to pretend to be a burger, the better it is. When they try to be a burger without the meat, it’s usually kind of depressing because the attempt is going to fall short of being the same thing. When the they just make a vegetarian burger-shaped sandwich center, they can actually be really tasty.

    It also helps if you don’t try to pretend that they’re burgers. Doesn’t matter how good something is, if you pretend or hope it’s something else, it’s going to fall short. If you acknowledge it’s not the same thing, the experience is better.

    September 8th, 2011 at 8:20 am
    Comment by Jacob
  2. indeed. not all meat replacements are created equal. but when i find a good one, i buy in bulk. like costco sold those chipotle black bean burgers, for example. ooo.. or gardein “chicken” nuggets. nom nom.

    September 8th, 2011 at 1:02 pm
    Comment by jorjiapeach
  3. I’ve never had tofurkey, but I imagine it tastes as goofy as it sounds. Pretending to eat meat is way worse than just embracing the fact that you’re not eating meat.

    September 8th, 2011 at 4:27 pm
    Comment by courtney
  4. I have done the fake meat stuff but once I realized that most are made with GMO soy, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I’d rather just eat veggies as veggies (a grilled portabello mushroom makes an awesome burger with no need for overprocessing) and meats as meats these days.

    September 8th, 2011 at 4:41 pm
    Comment by Kathie
  5. You know I am not a vegetarian. But I do love me some veggie burgers, and Trader Joe’s Soy Corn Dogs. But I really like is a big slice of portobello mushroom on a hamburger bun with cheese, tomato and onion and “catsup” (marinara sauce

    September 8th, 2011 at 9:27 pm
    Comment by Rob
  6. I’ve always wondered about that. I’m an omnivore. Some meals are meatless, some contain meat. But I’ve never gone out of my way to pursue a veggie-burger (have eaten them when offered, natch), and have often wondered why vegetarian friends have, for example, bothered with putting soy crumbles in chili, etc. — “look, it’s JUST LIKE we put meat in it!” No, it isn’t. And there’s no need to have meat or a meat substitute in chili at all, anyway (just ask anybody at a chili cookoff …), so why pretend?

    The method you describe above just makes lots more sense to me. It’s all food. Meat is food, mushrooms are food, grilled cheese is food, carrot sticks are food. Eating it and NOT making excuses for it seems more reasonable.

    September 9th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
    Comment by Stefka
  7. I love mushroom veggie burgers on a well toasted whole wheat bun or even better a fresh slice of mushroom with swiss melted over it. So good! Now I want that more than the (meat substitute) fajitas I was going to make!

    September 11th, 2011 at 6:59 pm
    Comment by Vanessa
  8. The only fake meat I like (love) are Morning Star Farms “sausage” patties. What else could I add to a breakfast burrito that tastes so good & adds protein? Plus, fake meat (especially the sausage!) helps people be able continue to eat the foods they love. Like breakfast casserole. It also helps “mixed” families. My meat eating boyfriend liked the sausages :)

    Other than that, I’ll stick with veggies & beans if I want to go veg.

    September 12th, 2011 at 4:03 pm
    Comment by Melissa

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