One of the first things that many of us do when cutting down on meat consumption and trying to eat more plant-based foods is to hit the grocery store and purchase some fun, new food items that contain no animal products. This can be an exciting endeavor, especially considering that there are many new products hitting the shelves, and several companies now are vying for vegan mouths to buy their product. When you set out to look for these foods, you quickly see that there are actually many convenient packaged options available at the grocery store for plant-based eaters. Joy! But, don’t get fooled into thinking that buying a box of veggie burgers will cure your ailments or make you the healthiest person alive.
It can be easy to look at the meat and dairy-free options and automatically consider them healthier or better choices. But when it comes to some products like frozen veggie burgers, it can be hit or miss, since there are so many varieties on the market. One brand could have a decent list of just a few ingredients, while another will contain a laundry list of ingredients that are not exactly healthy for us. Here are some ingredients to watch out for in veggie burgers.
Canola and Other Oils
Canola oil is just one type of oil that has a risk of coming from genetically modified sources. Aside from likely being derived from GMO crops, any oil that is not labeled as being first cold-pressed is likely refined, which means it was produced with the addition of heat or dangerous chemical solvents. We call these refined oils “cheap oils,” while the cold-pressed, organic varieties are no doubt going to be more expensive. So, it makes sense why packaged food companies opt for cheap alternatives to the good stuff; it reduces their entire production cost.
Canola is made from rapeseed, but other cheap oils to watch out for include safflower oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and soy oil. Eating too much of these cheap oils can cause an abundance of Omega 6 fatty acids in our diets, which increases the risk of inflammation, heart disease, obesity, and prostate and bone cancer. Unfortunately, several veggie burger products like Morningstar Grillers Chick’n burgers contain these oils.
Textured Vegetable Protein
TVP doesn’t sound very appetizing. This stuff is extracted from soy at a very high heat and then made into a powder. Then, it is shaped into strips, chunks and granules and uses to make food products. Since TVP is processed, it can also contain artificial and natural flavors, MSG, colorings, emulsifiers and thickening agents, including nitrosamine, which is a carcinogen. Burgers like Quorn Meat Free Beef Style & Red Onion Burgers contain TVP.
Caramel coloring gives food a nice golden brown color, but this additive contains the chemical 4-methylimidazole, or 4-Mel, which could possibly cause cancer, says World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the State of California. In an experiment that tested on animals (we know, we get sad when we hear anything is tested on animals, too, but unfortunately this is the test we must mention here), oral administration of 4-methylimidazole increased the incidence of mononuclear-cell leukaemia in female rats. The state of California limits manufacturers to 29 micrograms of exposure for the average consumer per day. Burgers like Boca Original Vegan burgers contain caramel coloring.
Any Hydrolyzed Protein
There are dozens of names for MSG on a food label, and hydrolyzed protein is just one common name for it. The food industry uses MSG because it makes food taste good, but the problem is that MSG increases your insulin response, tricking your body into thinking you can eat more than you actually should. Many frozen burgers like these Morningstar Mediterranean Chickpea burgers are full of different hydrolyzed ingredients.
Many of these companies would argue that eating small portions of these ingredients is not harmful. But it’s not eating these in an isolated incident that has us concerned; it’s the fact that when someone eats these frequently over time, health damage may occur. And isn’t it these companies’ point to keep you coming back for more, and not just eat a small amount?
EAT THIS INSTEAD!
To make your own delicious veggie burgers without these ingredients, check out these recipes below, and click here for more!
1. Quinoa Veggie Burger
Quinoa and mushroom lovers must try this patty. Use this recipe as a base and jazz it up with whatever herbs, spices, veggies or toppings you like.
2. The Vegan Eggplant Crunchburger
This vegan, gluten-free burger is decadence on a bun. The recipe author recommends topping them with caramelized onions and a simple spread made with mayo, mustard, and vegan, gluten-free Worcestershire sauce.
3. Quinoa and White Bean Burger
These filling patties are packed with protein and fiber as well as other beneficial nutrients. They’re also packed with flavor; the recipe calls for thyme, garlic, shallots, lemon, red bell pepper, paprika and chipotle chili pepper.
4. Red Lentil Burgers With Kale Pesto
In this recipe, start with red lentils, potatoes, almonds and different seeds. You combine these with a nice blend of spices that includes cumin, paprika, coriander and black pepper. After you grill these patties, add the kale pesto sauce, then it place over some brown rice and you have a fantastic meal.
5. Spicy Cauliflower Potato Burger
Serve these spicy patties with roasted peppers, sliced tomatoes and an either guacamole or a chipotle habanero cashew cream sauce. For the Spicy Chipotle Cream sauce, blend 1/4 cup powdered raw cashews, 1/2+ cup water, 5 to 6 garlic cloves, 1/3 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 2+ teaspoons Chipotle Habanero Hot sauce or to taste.
6. Hearty Lentil and Brown Rice Burger
These hearty, flavorful veggie burgers pair well with BBQ sauce and are made with delicious ingredients like green lentils, brown rice, yellow onion and garlic.
7. White Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers
White bean, sweet potato, onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, chili powder, breadcrumbs and a few other spices blend harmoniously together for these delicious white bean and sweet potato burgers.
8. Portobello Mushroom Burgers
Portobello mushroom burgers are a classic vegan veggie burger choice. These patties have a delicious glaze over top. Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper, then pour over caps and let marinade for 20 to 30 minutes on the grill.
9. Cajun Burgers
The base of these burgers are made from kasha, or buckwheat, which has a deep, nutty taste. It also has a delicious taste from the spices, like thyme, basil, oregano, paprika, mustard powder and cayenne pepper.
10. Reuben Burger
This delicious veggie burger has a spice rub of several spices like coriander, garlic, onion, caraway, fennel and black pepper.
Lead image source: j / f / photos/ Flickr