Some call it mock-meat, others call it vegan meat, alternative to meat, plant-based meat, but vocabulary is of little importance here, because these plant-based alternatives to popular meat products – like burgers and sausages – are supremely comforting and tasty in their own right. Small wonder that this year Veganuary – a popular campaign by the eponymous charity inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year – had more supporters than in any previous year since this challenge started. Can you blame them? We shouldn’t forget that plant-based dishes have been around for a long time. We just didn’t call them vegan until quite recently.
As ‘plant-based’ is gaining ground, we thought that a list of vegan burgers and sausages would come in handy especially for those who need a bit of inspiration when making the transition from meat to meat-free while keeping the taste, the flavours, and the protein, but with a significantly smaller carbon footprint.
Mind you, this is not an all-inclusive list of suggestions, more like a guide to some of the most popular plant-based burgers and sausages currently on the UK market. These are semi-prepared products. We’ll talk more about making your own plant-based alternatives to meat in another blog.
In alphabetical order:
This company that started as a small startup sold 13 million burgers since its 2016 debut and last year they were having problems meeting the high demand (Fast Company). Apparently they managed to make meaty dishes like burgers and tacos deliver the juicy, delicious familiar taste. They also consider theirs to be the first plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef without gluten, soy, or GMOs. And you know what? You can actually find it in the meat aisle.
Their mission: “… to create The Future of Protein – delicious plant-based burgers, sausage, crumbles, and more – made directly from simple plant-based ingredients. By shifting from animal, to plant-based meat, we are creating one savory solution that solves four growing issues attributed to livestock production: human health, climate change, constraints on natural resources and animal welfare.”
Have a look inside their innovative future food lab while we wait for its UK grand opening.
They “turn virtuous veg into seriously tasty veggie food” and pride themselves on the fact that they’re not interested in meat mimicry, “just helping naturally good, delicious vegetables to do their thing.” Sounds like a good plan.
If you try their frozen vegan sausages, you’ll know they don’t really care about meat mimicry as you’ll discover that pulses and red peppers aren’t hiding in there, they’re on full display.
Big plus: The above mentioned sausages and equally tasty burgers come in cardboard boxes only and it doesn’t affect the quality of the product. ‘No plastic’ is always worth mentioning.
It’s impossible not to mention it, mainly because it’s on everyone’s lips. If you live in the UK you haven’t had the pleasure to taste it yet. Currently very popular in USA, this one is still waiting to cross the ocean. Stories of its juiciness, flavours, texture and smell are the stuff of legends already, fooling famous chefs and devoted meat eaters.
Quote: “Love meat? Eat meat. Impossible delivers all the flavor, aroma and beefiness of meat from cows. But here’s the kicker: It’s just plants doing the Impossible.”
What’s in it? They started with wheat and potato protein, coconut oil, heme, and some binders — konjac and xanthan — to bring it all together. Then they swapped wheat protein for soy, some coconut oil for sunflower, and introduced a new binder. Check out the full ingredient list on their FAQ page.
Read this while you wait for the burger to come to the UK.
Their range of food includes lots of classic, hearty dishes, and are mainly known for their vegetarian options, but they too started adding more vegan options. Rehydrated textured soya protein is one of the main ingredients in their vegan sausages, and not only.
Popular British brand that produces from vegan salami to spicy sausages using seitan as the main ingredient.
Wait, what is seitan? If you’re gluten intolerant, seitan is not for you as it is made out of wheat gluten in various combinations adding spices and ingredients such as coconut fat and vegetables. Seitan has been around for centuries as staple ingredient in Asian cuisine and popular vegan meat alternative alongside other traditional plant-based products such as tofu and tempeh.
Let someone else cook seitan for you: In Hackney (London, UK) you’ll find The Temple of Seitan. Well, it’s not a proper temple, just a tiny busy vegan joint where you can try all fast food style 100% vegan options made out of seitan. They recreate popular meat dishes, like flavoured wings and BBQ Bacon.
Their burgers and sausages are made from peas. In case you didn’t know, green peas are packed full of filling protein and fibre, with almost no calories. For a full list of ingredients, check out their website. Yes, there’s some wheat gluten somewhere in there too.
What’s more, “peas also contain several healthy B complex vitamins as well as Vitamin C, which plays a key part in strengthening the immune system.”
They’re known for the wide range of vegetarian products made with Mycoprotein – a meat-free protein ingredient. Their range includes mince, chicken-style pieces, sausages, burgers and ready meals. They also started doing more vegan meat options lately.
Upton’s are quite new on the UK market and sell jackfruit, a fruit with a surprising meaty texture. This too is a sweet and spicy alternative to burgers, vegan pulled meat sandwiches, pizza toppings, casseroles or anything savoury. Their minced jackfruit in various combos is already on the shelves of most London supermarkets, health shops and more. You can buy it online too. Have a look at veganstores.
Jack-what? The jackfruit tree is well-suited to tropical lowlands, which means it has to travel quite a bit to come to the UK. Its fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching as much as 55 kg (120 lb) in weight, 90 cm (35 in) in length, and 50 cm (20 in) in diameter. Not to worry though, they cut it into smaller pieces and pack it in decently-sized boxes.
The main ingredient: soy protein concentrate. And yes, there’s actually a real butcher based in The Netherlands.
About their 100% Vegan Nochicken Chunks: “According to many, the sensational flavour even tastes more like chicken than chicken itself. Master chefs have a hard time distinguishing it from the real thing.”
Most of their vegetarian products (they also offer vegan and organic) are based on soy beans. They also have products that are made of lupine, chickpeas, vegetarian cheese, fresh vegetables and beans.
More vegan brands (2020)
BirdsEye Green Cuisine ( “meat-free mealtimes”) – protein goodness from the dried peas
Moving Mountains (“a plant-based meat alternative to the British beef burger”) – mushrooms, wheat, soy and pea proteins
Lazy Vegan (“no animals, no soy, no hassle!”) – frozen ready meals with high protein “Chunky Pulled Peaz”
Fry’s (their story began when began one person became fed up with Broccoli) – their meat-free burgers are their BBF (aka Bun’s Best Friend)
VBites ( “The Pioneers of Plant-Based Food since 1993 ”) – meat-free, fish-free, dairy-free
No vegan meat, just lab meat
No, this one is not plant-based, but it’s good to know that they’re working on it. As far as we know, they don’t sell it yet. However, that day may not be that far away. Read this while you wait.
Good to know: Since veganism is steadily going mainstream, most supermarket chains in the UK have introduced plant-based options or vegan meats for their staple frozen, pre-cooked, semi-cooked meals, along most of the above-mentioned brands. We haven’t tried them all, but if you did, we’d love to hear from you.
Keep an eye on packaging: Watch out for excessive plastic packaging, and be careful with some ingredients you might be allergic to or you’re just trying to avoid for whatever reason. Yes, we also think organic is better.
Vegans and plant-based gourmands are invited to make additions, corrections, suggestions and invites to special vegan places. You can do it in the comments or by joining the conversations on our community forum. Thank you.
Don’t forget that you can start conversations on topics close to your interests on the ethical forum.
Featured image via Shutterstock