The Nutrition Low-Down On Veggie Burgers And Dogs
- Most veggie burgers with 10 grams of protein or less contain vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, celery, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, zucchini and whole grains such as brown rice, rolled oats and bulgur wheat.
- Most veggie burgers with more than 10 grams of protein contain primarily soy protein and wheat gluten with very little actual vegetables or whole grains.
- Many brands offer vegan options without animal products such as eggs or cheese. However, just because it is vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it has more vegetables or less protein than non-vegan versions.
- Veggie hot dogs have only nutrition advantages–no disadvantages– over traditional meat hot dogs. On average they have fewer calories, less fat, less sodium and more protein than your standard frank.
Nutritional advantages of veggie burgers: Less fat, more fiber
- Veggie burgers typically contain three times less total fat and seven times less saturated fat than average beef and turkey burgers. On average, veggie burgers have 3 grams of total fat and 0.5 grams of saturated fat while average meat burgers contain 10 grams of total fat and 3.5 grams of saturated fat.
- Veggie burgers typically contain an average of 3 to 4 grams of fiber, which is considered a good source. Meat burgers contain no fiber.
Nutritional disadvantages of veggie burgers: More sodium, less protein
- Veggie burgers typically contain five times more sodium than unseasoned beef or turkey burgers. The sodium range of veggie burgers is between 250 to 500 milligrams per burger with the average being around 350 mg. This represents 15 percent of the daily value of sodium, which is considered a moderate but not high amount.
- Veggie burgers typically contain two times less protein than beef or turkey burgers. The protein range of veggie burgers is between 5 to 15 grams per burger with the average being around 11 grams. Though veggie burgers have less protein than meat burgers, on average they contain 22 percent of the daily value of protein, which is considered an excellent source.
Common allergens in meatless burgers and hot dogs
- Not all meatless burgers and hot dogs are for everyone, and people with food allergies should pay particular attention to ingredients. Of the veggie products we examined, soy was in every one and wheat was in all but one. Eggs, dairy and nuts were also present in many of the products. However, meatless products that do not contain soy, wheat or other common allergens are available.
How Do They Taste?
Arguably, if food doesn’t taste good, people are less likely to eat it even if it does wear an impressive nutrition label. So Food & Nutrition invited an informal group of taste testers from vegetarians to meat lovers, adults and kids, who rated the veggie alternatives based on taste, texture and whether they would eat the product again.
- The top three rated veggie burgers were MorningStar Farms Grillers Original, Amy’s All-American and MorningStar Farms Garden Veggie Patty. While the first two are meant to look and taste “like meat,” at a close third is a product with visible chunks of vegetables such as mushrooms, carrots and peppers—suggesting that satisfying meatless fare may not depend entirely on a successful imitation.
- The top two favorite meatless hot dogs were Yves Good Dog and MorningStar Farms Veggie Dog. These are also the two highest in sodium, but not as high in sodium as regular meat hot dogs.
- If you are preparing meatless burgers or hot dogs on a grill, use a cooking spray to prevent them from sticking or falling apart.
- Grill them over a low-medium heat in an area with no direct flame so they heat through without drying out.
- Some veggie burgers and hot dogs grill better than others, so try baking, microwaving or heating in a skillet to see which works best for you.
- Another delicious and healthy option is homemade veggie burgers.