Burgers seem like a rite of passage once grilling season starts — no wonder they’re a staple at picnics, parties, and tailgates. But as delicious as an all-beef patty can be, it’s hard to ignore research about the negative consequences eating meat can have on the environment and your health.
Raising livestock, including cows, generates the equivalent amount of greenhouse gasses as all road vehicles combined, according to Greenpeace. And research shows that eating two servings of red meat per week is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, as well as death from all causes. Cancer incidence is also higher in meat-eaters, according to a study published in February 2022 in BMC Medicine.
You don’t have to give up your beloved burgers entirely, though. Just reducing meat consumption by 20 percent can halve deforestation, according to a study published in May 2022 in Nature. The American Heart Association points out that eating a more plant-forward diet has been linked to a decreased risk for chronic diseases including obesity, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and several types of cancer.
Whether you’re looking to cut back on meat or have already embraced a plant-based lifestyle, veggie burgers make a great meal. You can even find them at popular chains, including Burger King and Carl’s Jr.
While plant-based burgers have become more accessible, pre-made patties aren’t necessarily much healthier. Take the Impossible Burger: One 4-ounce burger contains 240 calories and 8 grams (g) of unhealthy saturated fat. By comparison, 4 ounces of 80 percent lean ground beef is 287 calories and 8.6 g of saturated fat, per data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Store-bought veggie burgers are also surprisingly expensive — sometimes more than meat, according to a 2021 CNBC article. But making your own plant-based burgers at home is surprisingly easy and affordable. Controlling the ingredients allows you to control the calories, saturated fat, and fiber, as well as customize the burgers for any special dietary needs or preferences, such as a gluten allergy or vegan diet.
DIY burgers are also a great way to meal prep and save money since they freeze well. Then you can pull one out for any occasion that involves a grill. As a healthy bonus, veggies don’t tend to create carcinogenic chemicals when flame-broiled, the way meats do, according to Cedars-Sinai.
Start with these seven recipes for the tastiest burgers you can make — no beef required.