As veganism has grown in popularity in recent years, so too has the variety and quality of vegan-friendly burgers. This shift has also been driven to some extent by an increase in environmental awareness and the recognition that beef farming is particularly bad for the planet. In this article, we will run through some of the best and most popular vegan burgers available in the UK. We’ll also take a look at what goes into them instead of meat, and how they compare to meat burgers when it comes to both health and environmental considerations.
Whether you’re planning your next vegan barbecue or you are just seeking a meal that packs a good dose of vegan protein, here’s the place to find out all you need to know about the top vegan burgers around at the moment. Note that we’ll split the vegan burgers into three categories for the purposes of this article:
- Beef-like Plant-Based Burgers – These will be the burgers that are made to look, cook and (usually) taste like burgers made from cows. These tend to be made from a protein source like pea protein, soya protein or mycoprotein (Quorn) and are generally textured and coloured to look like meat.
- Chicken-like Plant-Based Burgers – These will be the vegan burger options that resemble chicken burgers (an example of which would be the Vegan Royale at Burger King). These tend to be coated in batter or breadcrumbs rather than resembling the meat itself, with the inner protein-based mass being the part that imitates the chicken.
- Other Vegan Burgers – These are more like traditional veggie burgers that don’t resemble meat burgers much other than the shape. These are often made from chopped nuts, vegetables, lentils, mushrooms or a combination of these things.
Some vegan burgers could readily fit into either category so we’ll just make a judgement call in such cases. Also, note that the information in the article is correct at the time of publication and certain ingredients or manufacturing methods may change. As such, always check the label of the product you are purchasing, especially if you have any allergies. Additionally, many of the burgers mentioned below include the ever-contentious palm oil among their ingredients. To make life slightly easier, we’ve classified these as vegan friendly here.
Top Vegan Burgers (Beef-like)
Here are the top (beef-like) vegan-friendly burgers available in the UK, in our opinion. We’ve focussed on those that are available to buy from supermarkets rather than those found in chain restaurants or independent food outlets, such as food trucks.
Though many of these are available in the likes of Tesco or Sainsbury’s, some of the more niche options can be found at TheVeganKind Supermarket, which is brilliant for all kinds of vegan foods and household products. This is not an exhaustive list of all the vegan burgers available (as there are scores of them these days), just a snapshot of some of the best and most popular out there at the moment. So, let’s kick off with one of our favourites.
Beyond Meat Beyond Burger
Beyond Meat, who were founded in Los Angeles in 2009, are on a mission to encourage the shift from animal to plant-based meat, which they claim “can positively impact four growing global issues: human health, climate change, constraints on natural resources, and animal welfare.” We can’t disagree with that. But, are their burgers any good? Well, thankfully, they are! Very good in fact – especially if you are seeking something that closely resembles a traditional burger made from cows.
Their much-heralded Beyond Burger is made primarily from pea protein, with some rice protein thrown in for good measure. This means that each patty packs a powerful vegan protein punch of 20g. Additional ingredients include lemon juice, carrot powder and pomegranate extract, and the end result is about as close to a meat burger as you are likely to find from a plant-based burger.
Meatless Farm Co Meat Free Burgers
Like Beyond Meat, Meatless Farm produce only plant-based products and, for many vegans, this is far preferable to buying from a giant food company that also sells a lot of meat products. This British company have made a very tasty vegan burger that is well worth checking out, not least because it tends to cost only about half as much as a Beyond Burger!
Like the Beyond Burgers, these Meatless Farm patties are made using pea protein with some rice protein, yeast extract and various vegetable and fruit extracts to add colour and flavour. They don’t resemble real meat burgers quite as well as the Beyond Burgers, but if that is not your primary concern, these will certainly satisfy most burger fans.
Future Farm Future Burgers
Another 100% plant-based meat company, Future Farm is from Brazil, a country that is the leading exporter of beef and has more than 200 million cattle producing almost 10 million metric tons of beef in 2018 (according to the US Department of Agriculture). It is therefore encouraging to see this Brazil-founded company making waves both at home and abroad.
With a strong emphasis on food technology, Future Farm have developed their own “3-Plant Protein” for their burgers and other products. It is made up of soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate (that is commonly used in soy protein powders), pea protein concentrate and chickpea flour. They throw in a bit of coconut and canola (rapeseed) oil, some salt, water, beet powder (for colour) and a little methylcellulose (a non-toxic, non-allergenic compound made from plant cellulose). The end result is a tasty patty that contains 16g of protein, 6g of fibre and a decent helping of iron too – a nutrient that some vegans may not be getting enough of.
Moving Mountains Plant-Based ¼lb Burgers
Moving Mountains started life in 2016 and after two years of research and testing, the company produced the UK’s first plant-based burger that “bled”. Apparently, this fake bleeding is supposed to give meat-eaters the incentive to switch to plant-based burgers and whether that is the case or not, MM have certainly made a very flavoursome and satisfying burger.
We certainly rate this burger, which has more of an earthy flavour than some because of the inclusion of oyster mushrooms among the ingredients. Like others, it uses pea protein, with additional soy protein boosting the protein content to around 15%. On the flip side, though, the reliance on coconut oil (which is not one of the healthiest vegan cooking oils) means that these burgers contain around three times the saturated fat of Beyond Burgers and more than 15 times that found in Linda McCartney Vegetarian ¼lb Burgers!
Vivera Plant Quarter Pounder
Vivera have built a very solid plant-based food business in recent years and they are regularly developing new products to tempt people away from the Dark Side of meat consumption (see their Plant Chicken Burger in the next section).
It is worth noting, however, that Vivera is owned by the world’s largest processor of beef and pork, JBS. So vegans seeking to purchase from purely plant-based companies should certainly take that into account here. Their Plant Burger is made using rehydrated soya and wheat protein rather than the pea protein that is preferred by some others. But the end result is impressive enough, without being mind-blowing.
On the health front, it is very good though. With less than 1g of saturated fat per 100g of burger and good amounts of fibre (6g) and protein (17g), as well as some iron and vitamin B12 (another micronutrient some vegans may be concerned about), this is certainly a very good option for those who have come to veganism for health reasons, and it is significantly better on the health side of things than meat-based burgers.
Linda McCartney Vegetarian ¼lb Burgers
Another excellent option for the health-conscious among you, the Linda McCartney Vegetarian ¼lb Burgers contain just 1.1g of saturated fat per 100g, a very tidy 7.3g of fibre and a welcome 21g of protein. The bulk of these burgers comes from rehydrated textured soya protein, with just a few other ingredients, including chickpea flour, flavourings, yeast extract and garlic puree.
They are not as good an imitation of meat burgers as some of those mentioned above, but they cook well under the grill, in the oven or on the barbecue, and many people are more than satisfied with these excellent-value vegan burgers.
Richmond Meat Free Burgers
It is likely that some vegans will not be too enamoured by these burgers simply because they are made by a company that also makes meat products. Where you draw the line with such things is a matter for your moral compass. But for those who don’t mind such things or perhaps those who think helping such a company realise the future is plant-based, the question is, are they any good? Well, they’re not bad, but there are far better options in our view.
They use rehydrated soya and wheat protein and the texture is reasonable but there is perhaps a little too much give when you bite into the patty. They do look very much like meat burgers, at least before they are cooked, but for us, the flavour doesn’t quite hit the spot. Of course, that’s a subjective matter and you can make your own mind up about that, but given that some of the previously mentioned burgers have really impressed us, we’d certainly opt for one of those over the Richmond products.
Naked Glory Quarter Pounders
Naked Glory (interesting name!) is owned by the same company (Kerry Group plc) as Richmond (as well as various other brands that sell animal products, including Wall’s, Mattessons and Dairygold). As such, the same applies here as it does to the Richmond plant-based burgers: if your vegan ideals mean you don’t want to give money to companies who profit from selling animal products, choose one of the options made by a purely plant-based operation.
To be brutally honest, even those people whose morals don’t encourage them to look elsewhere should probably give these burgers the swerve anyway. For us, they are very much at the bland end of the vegan burger spectrum and though they are cheaper than some of the more premium options, and for us, they tasted a bit cheap and nasty. They are a bit higher in saturated fat than some of the options (4.1g per 100g) and a little lower in fibre, but overall they are still a good deal healthier than most beef burgers.
Linda McCartney Vegetarian Pulled Pork ¼lb Burgers
While these are not beef-style burgers, they fit better in this category than the others and they deserve to be featured as they are really rather good. While other vegan-friendly pulled pork style dishes can be made from jackfruit, this is based on the rehydrated textured soya and wheat protein that forms the basis of many of the company’s products. And it works well in terms of the texture and the flavour in this case and these burgers also work well on the barbecue.
Plant Chef Meat Free Burgers
The Tesco in-house vegan brand Plant Chef has a growing number of very good value vegan products, including these meat-free burgers. We say good rather than excellent as they are not quite as impressive as some of those mentioned above. But they are significantly cheaper than the likes of Beyond Burgers.
Made from reconstituted textured pea protein, rice flour, maize flour, various oils and a couple of herbs and spices, these are a little lacking in flavour. They are also slightly higher in saturated fat and lower in fibre and protein than some. But overall, as a value vegan burger option, they are definitely worthy of a place on our list.
Plant Pioneers No Beef Burgers
Plant Pioneers is the brand used for the Sainsbury’s vegan range and these vegan burgers, made from mushrooms, pea protein and vegetable suet, among other things, are nice enough without being truly mouthwatering. They compare well with the Tesco Plant Chef burgers, but are more expensive. But they veer towards the slightly bland in terms of the flavour, which is a surprise given how tasty the Plant Pioneers No Chicken Burgers are (mentioned below).
Top Vegan Burgers (Chicken-Style)
There aren’t as many of these as there are for the vegan burgers that resemble beef patties. But here are the best examples of vegan-friendly chicken-like burgers we have encountered in UK supermarkets.
Linda McCartney Vegetarian Southern Chicken Burgers
They call them “vegetarian” but they are vegan-approved and they call them “chicken burgers” but there are no animal products in these at all, and certainly no birds! But we’ll forgive them. Because these Vegetarian Southern Chicken Burgers are actually rather good. Especially with a good blob of vegan mayo, and a bit of salad.
Made mainly from rehydrated soya and wheat protein, with chickpea flour, maize starch, rice flour and various other ingredients, these Southern Fried Burgers – like many of the Linda McCartney products – are low in saturated fat (1.4g per burger) with decent amounts of fibre (4.3g per burger) and protein (21g per burger). These work as very good alternatives to the Vegan Royale for vegans who don’t want to set foot in a Burger King restaurant.
Vivera Plant Chicken Burger
The chicken burger from Vivera is quite a disappointment all in all. It is reminiscent of the kind of reconstituted chicken burger that might be served in a school canteen (before Jamie Oliver had paid it a visit!) rather than anything resembling a real chicken fillet burger. If you forget that it is – at least in name – trying to resemble chicken, you might like these burgers.
Certainly from a nutritional point of view, they are pretty good (0.7g of saturated fat, 4.6g of dietary fibre, 17g of protein per 100g). Overall, this is not the best vegan chicken burger out there, but it could fit the bill at kids’ birthday parties.
Naked Glory Chick’n Burgers
Unlike the above-mentioned vegan chicken burger options, these patties from Naked Glory are not coated with breadcrumbs or similar. As such, their appearance is of minced chicken patties and once cooked they tend to remain quite succulent with a texture that is pleasant enough.
That juiciness and flavour is perhaps down to the fact that they are a little higher in saturated fat (4g per 100g) than some options mentioned, though they still have good amounts of fibre (4.6g per 100g) and protein (14g per 100g). The herbs, cracked black pepper and smoke flavourings ensure these rise above the slightly bland flavour that sometimes comes with lesser vegan burgers too.
Plant Pioneers No Chicken Burgers
These breadcrumb-covered “No Chicken” burgers from the Sainsbury’s in-house vegan range are well worth checking out. They are lower in protein than many burgers in this article (at 8.5g per 100g) but they are certainly big on taste. They have really packed in the herbs and spices (ingredients include white pepper, thyme, sage, parsley, rosemary, allspice, coriander, ginger, marjoram, paprika extract, black pepper extract and garlic extract) to ensure the flavour of the burgers is far more nuanced than most vegan burger options.
Vegilantes Plant Protein Zingers
These chicken-like “Zingers” from frozen plant protein brand The Vegilantes are made from a mix of soya protein, ground soya beans, wheat flour and corn starch (among other things). They have a very nice batter coating and a decent enough texture. They don’t quite hit the mark for us, but they are a decent effort and are worth checking out if you are (or used to be) a fan of KFC.
Top Vegan Burgers (Veggie Burger Style)
There are plenty of vegans out there who don’t really want to eat a burger that resembles meat, especially the kind that “bleeds” beetroot juice. In which case, these veggie burger-style options will probably be the ones to choose.
Often, given the more diverse range of ingredients, these can pack in far more flavour and nutrients than the meat-style vegan burgers, though some fall a little short when it comes to protein. They might not look like a hunk of dead flesh, but it doesn’t mean they are not burgers!
Strong Roots the Pumpkin & Spinach Burger
Irish food company, Strong Roots, has brought some very decent vegan-friendly food products to our supermarkets and we particularly like the Pumpkin and Spinach burgers. They include plenty of veggie goodness in the form of quinoa, pumpkin and spinach, with a few spices thrown in too. It all adds up to make a burger that is very low in saturated fat and that packs in plenty of vitamins.
Biona Organic Black Bean Cashew Nut Burger
One of the pioneers of bringing plant-based food to the masses, Biona have their fingers in many a vegan pie and burgers are no different. They also have a tasty Organic Sweet Potato Buckwheat Burger, but for our money, this Black Bean Cashew Burger is the superior product. At almost 9g of fibre per 100g, plus a fair bit of protein and very little saturated fat, it is one of the healthier options and it is also organic and free of palm oil or GMO ingredients.
Plant Chef Spicy Bean Burgers
For those people who like their burgers to come with a little kick, these Spicy Bean Burgers from the Tesco Plant Chef range should fit the bill nicely. They tend to dry out a little if overcooked or cooked at too high a temperature, but generally, they have a satisfyingly chunky texture and given they are made up of 33% veg (onion, green pepper, carrot and sweetcorn) it should come as no surprise that they are very low in saturated fat (just 1g per burger) and they also pack a very good fibre punch of 6.8g per burger.
Vegilantes Masala Spiced Jackfruit Burgers
These burgers are a little more imaginative than most and combine masala spices with jackfruit, cauliflower, leek, and even ground flaxseeds and chana dal to create a very flavoursome offering. They are a little higher in fat than some vegan burgers out there, but for those people who fancy something a little different, these are well worth trying.
Where to Buy Vegan Burgers
Note that supermarkets will change what products they sell from time to time, especially the more budget supermarkets like Aldi. But these days, you usually have a choice of at least three or four plant-based burger options at most supermarkets, which is fantastic. These will be split between the fresh meat aisle, often in a dedicated plant-based section at one end of the aisle, and the freezer section – again usually in a dedicated section.
Note that usually vegetarian and vegan products are lumped in together so it’s worth taking care to ensure the burgers you pick are vegan as some vegetarian ones contain egg or other animal derivatives. Most 100% plant-based burgers will usually have some kind of vegan certification or label on the front of the packaging.
Now that supermarkets have cottoned on to the fact that vegans like burgers too, there have never been so many choices. Especially with most big supermarkets having created their own plant-based brands to attempt to cash in on the vegan pound. As such, getting hold of vegan burgers is very easy, even if you don’t have a specialist vegan or health food shop nearby.
What Are Vegan Burgers Made From?
Just like vegan-friendly meat alternative products, such as vegan sausages or vegan bacon, vegan burgers generally include some common protein sources to add texture, bulk and to enhance the nutritional offering. Unlike most sausages, though, quite a few burgers include vegetables and/or nuts, especially the vegan burgers that are not trying to directly imitate meat burgers. Here are some of the most common main ingredients added to plant-based burgers:
- Pea Protein
- Soya Protein
- Wheat Gluten (Seitan)
- Potato Starch
- Rice Flour
- Wheat Flour
- Fungus (like mycoprotein)
- Vegetable Oils
- Herbs, Spices, Flavourings
Do Vegan Burgers Taste Like Real Burgers?
There is a strong argument to suggest that people in general will only feel inclined to shift from meat burgers to plant-based burgers if the latter look and taste like the former. This is why so much time, effort and money has gone into creating vegan burgers that resemble meat burgers even to the point that they “bleed” (an effect usually achieved using beetroot juice). But how well have the various companies achieved this aim of providing vegan-friendly alternatives to meat burgers that taste, smell, look and cook like the things they are imitating?
As with most vegan alternatives, it is very much a mixed bag. At the top of the tree, we have the likes of the Beyond Burger and Moving Mountains whose burgers both look and taste like at least some beef burgers. And the Linda McCartney Southern-Style Chicken Burgers make a very decent effort when it comes to imitating chicken burgers. Of course, it would be difficult to make the imitations so good that meat-eaters could be completely fooled in a blind taste test, but for most vegans, close is close enough. Whether close is close enough for meat eaters to switch to vegan-friendly burgers, however, is open to question.
Vegan Burgers Vs Meat Burgers: Health & Nutrition
There is a whole host of robust scientific evidence out there, including from Cancer Research UK, the World Health Organisation and many trusted sources, that red meat is really not good for your health.
There is a similarly massive amount of information and compelling evidence that supports the notion that vegetables, nuts and other plant-based food is good for your health. Therefore, it should come as no massive surprise that, generally speaking, eating plant burgers is healthier than eating meat (and particularly beef) burgers. But to delve into things a little more closely, let’s compare the nutritional data from some common meat burgers with some popular vegan burgers.
Example Nutritional Values of Burgers (Meat)
|Typical Values (Per 100g)||Birdseye 5Oz Steak Burgers||Tesco Finest the Proper Burger|
|Energy||1386kJ / 335kcal||983kJ / 236kcal|
Example Nutritional Values of Vegan Burgers
|Typical Values (Per 100g)||Linda McCartney Vegetarian ¼lb Burgers||Meatless Farm Co Meat Free Burgers|
|Energy||1053kJ / 253kcal||957kJ / 230kcal|
Though we have just picked a couple of examples of each, further investigation would support the following general statements:
- Vegan burgers generally contain significantly lower quantities of saturated fat than meat burgers.
- Vegan burgers generally contain significantly higher quantities of fibre than meat burgers.
- The protein content between vegan burgers and meat burgers is generally roughly comparable.
- Vegan burgers often have a lower calorific density than meat burgers.
- Vegan burgers actually taste much nicer than meat burgers (okay, there’s not actually evidence for that one, but we’ll slip it in here to see if anyone’s paying attention!).
Vegan Burgers Vs Meat Burgers: Environment
When it comes to the environment, vegan burgers win hands down when compared with meat burgers, especially beef burgers. There are numerous research studies, documentaries and well-researched articles that show that meat has a very significant environmental footprint. This is particularly true of beef (as outlined in the YouTube video below). We won’t rehash all the arguments here but if you want to learn more about it, please take a look at our article explaining the environmental reasons for veganism.
Conclusions: Vegan Burgers Are Better for Your Health & the Environment
Based on the number of vegan-friendly burgers available in the average supermarket and the variety of options available, it’s safe to say there is a strong market for plant-based burgers. And, based on our experience, we are happy to report that many (though not all!) of these vegan burgers are tasty and satisfying. There aren’t many that truly replicate meat burgers, though Beyond certainly fall into that category. That said, almost all of the options mentioned pack enough flavour and texture to give burger-lovers something to enjoy.
But on top of all that, almost all the vegan burgers are both significantly healthier and significantly better for the environment than meat (and particularly beef) burgers. With this in mind, we would urge even those who are not fully engaged with veganism to a least try a couple of the vegan burgers and see what they think. If you can get your burger kick whilst ingesting less saturated fat and more fibre, and helping the environment, what’s not to love?