The veggie burger has come a long way, baby. No doubt its debut must have raised a few eyebrows and wrinkled a few noses when early versions of it appeared as part of the “natural food” movement that began in the late 1960s, but the VB is now a grocery store and BBQ staple popular with vegetarians…and many others looking for a tasty, healthy, and humane burger option.
The term veggie burger was first coined in 1982 with the introduction of the “VegeBurger” by Greg Sams, longtime London natural food advocate and restaurant owner. Beating out names such as greenburger, earthburger, sesame burger, and plantburger (yum…) the VegeBurger went on to become one of the bestselling health food products ever, quickly reaching sales of 250,000 burgers per week. Its popularity helped prove that there was an eager market for vegetarian food products, and added the prefix “veggie” to describe all things vegetarian.
Since then the veggie burger market has grown steadily. You can now choose from several well-known national brands such as Gardenburger, Morningstar Farms, and Boca…as well as countless other smaller labels. Variety of products has also expanded greatly. Burgers come in more than one flavor (my favorites are portabella mushroom and spicy black bean), and vegetarian chicken patties, chicken nuggets, deli slices, hamburger-style crumbles, and even ribs are all widely available in both refrigerated and frozen form. You can get a veggie burger at Burger King (I have had exactly one of these in my life and it was fast food veggie heaven).
As a nearly 10 year vegetarian, veggie burgers in their many forms and flavors are an absolute staple in my diet, and after years of buying them I have recently begun experimenting with making them myself at home. It’s so satisfying to start with a pile of ingredients and end up with an actual burger….and 10 of them for the price of a normal box of 4 is even more rewarding!
My absolute favorite variety is spicy black bean, so that’s what I tackled first. Getting the texture right so they don’t fall apart is a challenge, but they are certainly a flavor success and I know I will be making these for…probably the rest of my life.
This isn’t the place for a soap box, but I sure do love looking a cow (or a pig or chicken) in the eye and saying “Hello friend. I respect your spirit and I will not eat you. Even though you are pooping on the ground right now…and then stepping in it.”
PS… Hitler wasn’t a vegetarian. Enough already.