The great vegan burger off - 10 vegan burgers tried and tested
Such is my dedication to you, dear reader, that I decided to write a reviews for 10 vegan burgers - some I'd tried before, some I hadn't - and then publish them all in a mega review of reviews. I'm not sure why I decided to do that, but I did. I bravely battled through the array of patties until I reached the magic number (the magic number is 10, not three, whatever De La Soul say) and now I present the fruits of my work to you here. Some were lovely, some were just OK - but after all that testing, I can confidently say, whatever you do, don't skip the pickle.
Amy's Manhattan burger
Ah, Amy's Manhattan burger - with your quinoa and walnuts, you are spoiling us. If you're not in the market for a meat-a-like burger, then may I recommend this fella? It's got an interesting texture thanks to that self-same quinoa, and a depth of flavour that the standard issue tofu-based ones don't always match, thanks to a healthy amount of mushrooms in there. If I was being picky, I'd say a bit more depth wouldn't go amiss, but I'll be buying these bad boys again.
Amy's All-American Burger
I thought this one looked really promising - held together well, had a tasty looking appearance. The ingredients were all nothing to scare the horses - soy, vegetables, spices - and that was pretty much my lasting impression of this burger: nothing to scare the horses. The texture was solid and there were no bits, but the taste was sadly bland. There was nothing to hold against the All-American, but not an awful lot to recommend it either. Not unpleasant, but definitely unmemorable.
Paul's tofu and four grain burger
Another promising looking burger, but this one had lots of bits in it. I'm not against bits, but the grains kept getting stuck in my teeth - there was no give in them. There was also a pungent taste to them - Mr Flicking the Vs says lemon, but I'm not so sure - that put me in mind of those veggie burgers that would be dished out by enterprising hippies as low-rent music festivals. Not one I'd recommend.
I really like Vegetarian's Choice sausages, so I had high hopes for their burger. This was the thinnest of the burgers that I tried - think the same thickness as those sad excuses for burgers that McDonalds sells. The burgers are divided up in the pack by paper, and were strangely hard to separate, especially if you're a hungry vegan trying to get the burger out of the packet and into a frying pan. I didn't mind the texture and the taste was fine, but there was a smell to the burgers that reminded me of offal cooking (yeah, I remember what it smells like, even now). If you like your vegan burgers meaty, this could be one for you, but it was a bit much for me.
Fry's Traditional Burgers
Fry's have a bouncy texture and a strong peppery taste. As a side note, I always find Fry's cooking instructions a bit whack. Apart from that, a respectable burger, but one that needs a few topping to bring it to life properly. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - don't skip the pickle.
Fry's chicken-style burger
Linda McCartney quarterpounders
Did Linda McCartney burgers used to be non-vegan? I presume so, because I don't ever remember eating one. After scrutinising the box, and seeing the magical word 'vegan', I took a pack home with me and filled my face. My favourite thing about these is their juiciness. They're a lovely moist burger - so moist in fact, that whenever I've cooked them, there's been a big puddle of juice on the baking tray. It's also got a lovely unami-ness to the flavour. Less good - there's a few small chewy bits that remind me of gristle in meat (still even now, despite not having eaten the stuff for decades). I guess that's authentic, but the recollection is not a pleasant one. That aside, it's a great burger and one that deserves a place on your BBQ this summer.
Viana Robinson burger
A little look at the ingredients tells you the some of the main ingredients in the Viana burger are tofu and wheat protein, and there's a seitany whiff about them. There's also lots of veggies in there, and the Viana is one of the better tofu-plus-veggies offerings I tried, not just for taste but for texture too. There's also a good size to the burger - it's a nice chunky option. It's a bit hard to get into the vacuum sealed packaging, but that's handy if you want to save one for later.