food

ROAD TEST: I ate 7 vegan burgers in 7 days to find out which ones are actually any good.

I’ve been a vegan for years, but in 2020, there’s never been more demand for good meat substitutes. We’ve seen vegan and plant-based products pop up across supermarket meat sections, at our favourite fast food joints and appearing on the table at family functions.

Thanks to movements like Meat-free Mondays and Veganuary, along with Netflix documentaries highlighting the benefits of embracing a plant-based diet, it’s easy to see why so many of us are starting to steer towards eating less meat.

Side note – here’s a look at what happens to your body after a year without alcohol. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

When it comes to the ever-expanding market of vegan burgers, the range is vast and can depend on what kind of meatless burger you’re after – there’s fake chicken or beef, lentil, brown rice and quinoa patties or the old faithful veggie patty.

With so many choices it can be hard to tell what’s worth the money, so I’ve put my taste buds to the test to bring you a list of vegan burgers that will satisfy your cravings, animal-free.

1. GRILL’D Simply Grill’d Beyond Burger Vegan.

best vegan burgers
GRILL’D Simply Grill'd Beyond Burger Vegan. Image: Supplied
ADVERTISEMENT

Price: $15.50 (avo and cheese are extra though).

Made of: Pea and rice protein.

Verdict: This is a great tasting burger if you want something similar to beef in flavour and texture. It’s quite filling as the patty is thick and rich in smoky flavours, so this helps with any Quarter Pounder-esque cravings when I get an out-of-the-blue pang for a BBQ flavoured patty.

Fun fact, the Beyond Burger was created in the U.S and is the first-ever plant-based burger that looks, cooks and tastes like beef.

Ranking: 4 patties out of 5.

2. OPORTO Vegan Burger.

best vegan burgers
OPORTO Vegan Burger. Image: Supplied

Price: $10.

Made of: Pea protein.

Verdict: I was particularly excited about this one because I am OBSESSED with Oporto’s chips. I'd even go as far as to get a burger from elsewhere, and circle back to Oporto for chips on the way home.

So as soon as they announced their new vegan burger, I went and bought one the next day to try. It did not disappoint. The patty was crisp on the outside and delicious on the inside, with visible peas and a spicy kick! Pretty great if you want a crumbed burger that isn’t a meat substitute.

It comes with a soft bun and nice salad, and is pretty fresh for fast food. Plus, it's a decent price.

Ranking: 4 patties out of 5.

ADVERTISEMENT

3. UNREAL 2x Italian Beefy Burger (from Woolworths).

best vegan burgers
UNREAL 2x Italian Beefy Burger (Woolworths). Image: Supplied

Price: $5.30 per packet.

Made of: Soy, rice and pea protein.

Verdict: If you’ve got a BBQ coming up or want to make burgers at home with the family, these are fantastic for easing your way into plant-based burgers. They're similar to the Beyond Burgers as they cook like beef but aren’t as rich (which can be a good thing). These come in freezer packs too and keep well, just thaw them out like normal meat!

They even stay a little pink on the inside once cooked to give it a real meat essence – plus the seasoning is spot on and cheaper than take out!

Ranking: 4 patties out of 5.

We haven’t come past a sh*t burger yet, isn’t that great? Let’s see if we can find one...

4. UNREAL 2x Chick’n Schnitzel (Woolworths).

best vegan burgers
UNREAL 2x Chick’n Schnitzel (Woolworths) Image: Supplied.
ADVERTISEMENT

Price: $6.30 per packet.

Made of: Soy, rice and pea protein.

Verdict: This is pretty darn tasty for something that isn’t a chook! I never quite got around the vegan chicken because I didn't think could be similar enough to the real thing. It kind of scared me how close this chicken schnitzel actually tasted like... chicken.

I shallow fried this bad boy straight from the freezer (kept really well) and it cooked to perfection; crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, no animals harmed!

Ranking: 3.75 patties out of 5.

5. EATWELL 4x Lentil Vegie Burgers (Coles).

best vegan burgers
EATWELL 4x Lentil Vegie Burgers (Coles). Image: Supplied

Price: $6.30 per packet.

Made of: Carrot, potato and lentils.

Verdict: This burger is a fantastic source of protein and fibre, lentils are a wonderful and versatile way to have burgers as you like! It's a great price point if you’re on a budget and want to be full to the brim after dinner, and the patties are super crunchy when cooked in the pan, but use a spatula to flip them as they can sometimes break apart.

They have a spice and herb mix that is fragrant and a nice way to introduce more beans and vegetables into your diet. Fun fact, this product is made in Australia from at least 90 per cent Australian ingredients.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ranking: 3 patties out of 5.

6. HUNGRY JACK’S Vegan Cheeseburger.

HUNGRY JACK’S Vegan Cheeseburger. Image: Supplied

Price: $7.20.

Made of: Corn, capsicum and carrot.

Verdict: Hungry Jack's was the trailblazer of the big three fast food joints, being the first in Australia to create a solely vegan burger. Vegans everywhere lost their freaking minds.

When I first tried it, I was surprised the patty wasn’t greasy or flavourless and remember thinking to myself “actually it’s not too bad”. A filling burger with two veggie patties, coupled with vegan mayo and cheese is a rare find for fast food joints, so I was impressed by the efforts of HJs.

The patty isn’t terribly amazing, but if your mates are heading to HJs and you don’t desire meat-like burgers, this is a nice option.

Ranking: 2.75 patties out of 5.

7. HUNGRY JACK’S Rebel Whopper.

best vegan burgers
HUNGRY JACK’S Rebel Whopper. Image: Supplied
ADVERTISEMENT

Price: $6.40.

Made of: Soy protein.

Verdict: The highly-debated Rebel Whopper has come with its fair share of love and hate from the vegan community; technically this burger IS NOT vegan. Though it is plant-based, the patty is cooked on the same broiler (flame grill) as the meat patties to “give the irresistible smoky, BBQ flavour just like our classic Whopper” as stated on the HJs website.

I paid extra for vegan cheese and mayo with a polite “just letting you know this burger isn’t vegan” response from the muffled voice in the drive-through. I really enjoyed this burger the first time I had it—also considering the fact HJs are trying to normalise meat-free options—the single patty was thinner than others I’d tried but it did have the Whopper-style flavour as promised.

This is a fantastic option if you want to try cutting meat out slowly but not miss out on the experience altogether. Though the price point is good, the second time I had this burger it was a hot mess and they forgot my cheese I paid extra for (points lost for the inconsistency).

Ranking: 3 patties out of 5.

So which is the best vegan burger?

As with lots of fast food items, you risk inconsistency every time you order, which is why the Grill'd burger comes out on top. If you can be bothered, home-made vegan burgers are always really tasty too.

But the best news is: none of these vegan burgers are bad. Whether you’re new to veganism, want to expand your palate and go meat-free on some days, or you’re a vegan veteran, having this many plant-based options can only be a good sign.

As veganism becomes more normal and accepted, it helps us start a conversation about where our food comes from, and makes us think twice about exactly what we put into our bodies.

While vegan burgers are a tasty treat, they should be seen as just that: a treat. Veganism is about embracing a well-balanced diet coupled with exercise while reducing our impact on the environment and enjoying these treats like everyone else.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Have you tried an epic vegan burger? Let us know in the comments below!

00:00 / ???