Click here to see an older article, Guide to Burgers and Dogs, from VJ's May/June 2000 issue

Vegetarian Journal's Guide to Vegan Burgers and Dogs

By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD

MANY OF US DEPEND ON VEGGIE BURGERS and dogs for an occasional quick meal. Burgers and dogs can be prepared in less than 5 minutes, and, when served on a whole grain bun with all the fixings, can be the start of a healthy meal. They're also handy to bring along when you're invited to a barbecue.

There are a lot of different veggie burgers and dogs to choose from. When The VRG first looked at veggie burgers and veggie dogs 15 years ago, we could only find seven different kinds of burgers and six different kinds of dogs. Some were vegan, while others contained cheese or eggs. Now, it's easy to find many more kinds of burgers and dogs; we found close to 60 different products that are vegan. Since there are so many vegan products, we decided to focus on those for this article.

Veggie Burgers

There are two general types of veggie burgers—those that are similar to hamburgers and those that aren't. The ones that are similar to hamburgers have a chewy texture, a dark brown color, and a grilled flavor. They may even have grill lines on them. These burgers are frequently made from soy—soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, textured soy protein, or textured soy flour. The other burgers are often based on beans, grains, seeds, or vegetables. They frequently taste less like a hamburger and more like the beans, grains, or other ingredients that they feature.

Veggie burgers are generally lower in calories and fat and higher in fiber than hamburgers. Vegan burgers also have no cholesterol and are low in saturated fat. Some burgers have iron, vitamin B12, and even zinc added to them. Burgers, especially those made with soy, can provide generous amounts of protein. Veggie burgers can be high in sodium, however, so read the label and look for lower-sodium products.

Products that are made from organic ingredients include Amy's Kitchen Burgers, Boca Organic Vegan Burgers, MorningStar Farms Vegan Burgers, Nature's Promise Vegan Burgers, Sunshine Burgers, TofurkyTM, SuperBurgers, and Wildwood Burgers.

What considerations go into selecting a vegan burger? Taste will be a factor, of course, and that's something you'll have to decide for yourself. Other key issues include the amount of sodium, fat, and protein in products and whether they're organic. To help evaluate products, we developed a ranking system that gives better marks to veggie burgers and dogs that are lower in sodium and fat, are moderate to high in protein, and made primarily with organic ingredients. We did decide to include protein, which is not usually a concern for vegetarians, because many people count on burgers as their main source of protein at a meal. If a burger only provides a couple of grams of protein, as some do, you might want to include other protein sources (like beans or nuts) along with your meal.

Burgers that ranked highest were TofurkyTM Super Burgers - TexMex and Nature's Promise Vegan Burgers.

Veggie Dogs

Most of the vegan dogs that we found are based on some form of soy, typically soy protein isolate. TofurkyTM products are based on wheat gluten.

Just like veggie burgers, veggie dogs are also lower in calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than hot dogs. Unlike burgers, though, veggie dogs have little fiber. While veggie dogs can be high in sodium, they are frequently lower in sodium than hot dogs. We were surprised to see that a few products (Loma Linda's Linketts and Big Franks) contain artificial colors. Others, like Lightlife Tofu Pups, are colored with beet juice. Some products have vitamin B12, iron, or zinc added. Veggie dogs made by TofurkyyTM, Lightlife Tofu Pups, and Soy Boy Not Dogs have organic ingredients.

We also ranked veggie dogs based on the amount of sodium, fat, and protein in each product and on whether they contain organic ingredients. Our top scoring dogs are TofurkyTM Chipotle Franks and Lightlife Tofu Pups.

Rankings for Vegan Burgers and Dogs
Products were rated based on their sodium, protein, and fat content and on organic ingredients. Higher rankings indicate a product low in sodium and fat, moderate in protein, and based on organic ingredients. You may want to do further evaluation based on your own criteria.
1 Nature's Promise Vegan Soy Vegetable Burger
TofurkyTM SuperBurger - TexMex
2 Amy's Kitchen All American Veggie Burger
Amy's Kitchen Texas Veggie Burger
Lightlife Tofu Pup TofurkyTM Chipotle Frank
TofurkyTM SuperBurger - Original
3 Boca Meatless Burger - Original
Boca Meatless Burger - Roasted Onion
Boca Meatless Organic Vegan Burger
Fantastic Foods Natures Burger
Gardenburger - Garden Vegan
Loma Linda Big Frank - Lowfat
Loma Linda Vege-Burger
MorningStar Farms Vegan Burger
MorningStar Farms Vegan Griller
Soy Boy Not Dog
Soy Boy Okara Courage Burger
Soy Boy Vegetarian Frank
TofurkyTM Frank
Worthington Vegetarian Burger
Wildwood Tofu-Veggie Burger - Shiitake
Zoglo's Tofu Wiener
4 Amy's Kitchen Bistro Burger
Amy's Kitchen Quarter Pound Veggie Burger
Boca Meatless Burger - Roasted Garlic
Lightlife Smart Dog
Sunshine Burger - Barbecue
Sunshine Burger - SouthWest
Veggie Patch California Veggie Burger
Wildwood Tofu-Veggie Burger
Wildwood Tofu-Veggie Burger - Southwest
Yves Meatless Hot Dog
Yves Tofu Dog
Zoglo's Tofu Patty
5 Amy's Kitchen California Veggie Burger
Dr. Praeger's Burger (all varieties)
Gardenburger - Black Bean
Gardenburger - Flame Grilled
Lightlife Light Burger
Lightlife Smart Dog Jumbo
Loma Linda Big Frank
Loma Linda Linkett
Loma Linda Redi-Burger
Sunshine Burger - Garden
Sunshine Burger - Original
TofurkyTM 'Foot Long' Veggie Dog
Yves Meatless Beef Burger
Yves Original Meatless Jumbo Dog
6 Yves Good Dog
7 Gardenburger - Veggie Medley
8 Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burger

Veggie Burgers That Are
Lowest in Sodium
1 Veggie Patch California Veggie Burgers
(95 milligrams per burger)
2 Loma Linda Vege-Burgers
(130 milligrams per burger)
3 Zoglo's Tofu Patties (135 milligrams per burger)
4 Dr. Praeger's Gluten-Free California Burgers (180 milligrams per burger)
5 Gardenburger - Garden Vegan (230 milligrams per burger)

Veggie Burgers That Are
Lowest in Fat
1 Nature's Promise Vegan Burgers
(0 grams per burger)
2 Boca Meatless Burgers - Original
(0.5 grams per burger)
Loma Linda Vege-Burgers
(0.5 grams per burger)
Veggie Patch California Veggie Burgers
(0.5 grams per burger)
3 Boca Meatless Burgers - Roasted Onion
(1 gram per burger)
Gardenburger - Garden Vegan
(1 gram per burger)

Veggie Dogs That Are
Lowest in Sodium
1 Loma Linda Linketts
(160 milligrams per dog)
2 Loma Linda Big Franks
(220 milligrams per dog)
3 Zoglo's Tofu Wieners
(228 milligrams per 2 dogs)
4 Loma Linda Big Franks - Lowfat
(240 milligrams per dog)
Soy Boy Not Dogs
(240 milligrams per dog)

Veggie Dogs That Are
Lowest in Fat
1 Lightlife Smart Dogs
(0 grams per dog)
Lightlife Smart Dogs - Jumbo
(0 grams per dog)
2 Yves Meatless Hot Dogs
(0.5 grams per dog)
3 Yves Tofu Dogs
(1 gram per dog)

Tell Us What You Think...

What's your favorite vegan burger and vegan dog? Write us a note, and we'll enter your name in a drawing for a prize (either a copy of VRG's latest book, Vegan Seafood: Beyond the Fish Shtick for Vegetarians by Nancy Berkoff, or vegetarian musician Bob Pyle's CD, Apples & Oranges). We'll publish some comments in our e-mail newsletter, VRG-News. To subscribe to VRG-News, go to vrgnews.

Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, is one of VRG's Nutrition Advisors.
She is the co-author of Simply Vegan and the most recent American Dietetic Association position paper on vegetarian diets.
Thanks to Lisa Kobs, RD, for researching product information for this article.