I was a vegetarian for a few years before going full-on vegan. I ate great quantities of eggs and cheese – even though neither one of those things consists of vegetables. So how did that make me a vegetarian? Because (as I understood it) I wasn’t eating the flesh of an animal. (Eggs do move into that territory though, don’t they?) Now that I no longer consume animal products of any kind, I look at vegetarianism as a gray zone in a field of black and white. Hey, each to his own, but for me, I get into this kind of circular conversation with myself about whether or not there should even be a mode of eating labeled vegetarianism. (With love and respect to my vegetarian friends and their choices) I believe that veganism and vegetarianism should be one and the same. The word vegetarian sounds pretty specific: either one eats animal products or one doesn’t.
Maybe the problem is in the human need to label, sort, file, and define when really choices are limitless. Maybe the problem is that the Believer (me) hopes for an unrealistic mass conversion to plant-based eating. I suspect that the real problem lies elsewhere: veggie burgers. Yep, it could just be that simple. How many times have you picked up a box of frozen black bean burgers only to see the words, eggs or egg whites, lurking in the ingredient list? Eggs and egg whites are products of animals. How many “vegetarian” black bean burgers have you consumed at restaurants thinking it was the lone vegan item on the menu? I no longer eat veggie burgers in restaurants because I have no trust in what’s in them. And anyway, the ones I make at home taste much, much better.
These taste great on my Chipotle Chile Pepper Rolls (pictured here)! And may I suggest the recipe for my oil-free edamame-kale hummus?
Black Bean, Corn, & Walnut Burgers
- Prep Time: 80
- Cook Time: 40
- Total Time: 120
- Yield: 6 1x
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup walnuts, soaked for about 15 minutes, then drained
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn (if using frozen, thaw first)
- 1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
- 1 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 1 tbsp. vegan grated “Parmesan” cheese
- 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- ~1/2 cup edamame-kale hummus (or your favorite hummus)
- slices of red onion
- fresh greens
- 4 hearty rolls/buns
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions, bell pepper, and garlic in a little water or vegetable broth until soft. Stir in the onion flakes, cumin, coriander, and salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a food processor, process the walnuts until finely ground – but don’t go into nut butter territory.
- In a large bowl, mash the beans, leaving some whole. Add the onion mixture, the walnuts, and the remaining ingredients and use your hands to mix everything up. Divide the mixture into four and form into flat patties. Place patties on the baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
- Preheat the oven to 375-degrees F and bake the burgers for 20 minutes, then carefully flip (they will be very soft) and bake for another 20 minutes or until beginning to brown and firm up. Serve immediately with hummus, red onion slices, and greens – or let the burgers sit for 20 minutes or so – they’ll continue to firm as they cool.
- Serving Size: 6
- Calories: 260
- Sugar: 3
- Sodium: 223
- Fat: 15
- Saturated Fat: 2
- Unsaturated Fat: 12
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 22
- Protein: 13
- Cholesterol: 1
Your idealism is commendable. I don’t know if your dream will come to be in our lifetimes, but, barring some world-wide catastrophie that knocks us back to the stone age or worse, I think it will eventually come to pass. I for one will miss cheese, but maybe if advances in the quality (I.E. TASTE! and creamy yumminess) of non-dairy cheeses catch up to the state of mock meat today, even eating non-dairy cheese won’t be such a sacrifice.
I agree with you that vegan cheese leaves me a bit…unsatisfied. I sometimes make my own, but don’t really consider it a substitute for cheese. It’s something in its own right, just not a plant-based twin of a dairy product.
Vegetarianism takes knowledge and commitment – veganism more so, which is why so few truly adopt it. Only the most committed are strong enough and dedicated enough – human weaknesses, including complacency are hard enemies to combat, but I’m with you in spirit that the fight is worth it. If I live long enough, I think I will end up vegan as well. I am baby stepping because I want permanent change, not a fad lifestyle that would result if I made the jump unprepared for the long haul.
For myself, I like the label “plant-based diet” rather than vegan – vegan to me makes me think of lifestyle, rather than diet. But hey, all is good! 🙂
For me though, where my food comes from is more important than what it is. I don’t buy eggs in grocery stores, I have no issues with eggs from local farms where I know the face raising them (and can see their farm animals). What grosses me out about veggie burgers in restaurants is factory raised eggs, TVP and a whole lot more of questionable ingredients 😉
But I love making my own, just like you!
I vacillate between vegan and plant-based, kind of depending on what I’m trying to put across, but without a doubt the word “vegan” can be very off-putting to some folks. Instant suspicion. You’re bang on about the origin of food and mystery ingredients.
They get a fear in their eyes “Oh no! Here comes the lecture on animal rights!” 😉 With PBD it is “Here comes the lecture on fiber” 😀
Great looking burger Annie! I too wish we could go without the labels on how we eat. You know I’m a ‘middle grounder’, preferring always to stay moderate in a world of extremes and as you know, focus on whole, real foods. Over the years I have wrestled myself out of my own need for black & white and find so much to love about grey – including all the good that comes from this major transition towards real foods & more plant-based ingredients. In fact, I think I am missing out on this burger right now! None of that packaged stuff for me either. Loads of love to you, this looks delicious! XX
Shira, what shines from the food on your blog is a wonderful purity and wholesomeness. So, you have some cheese here and there ;-). Spreading love and goodness with real food is a wonderful thing.
Your burger looks very appetizing, Annie! I also prefer to make my own burgers because you exactly know what is in them, without additives, bad stuff, etc!
Booooo to additives!
Love the look of your hummus, YUM!!
I haven’t tried Trader Joe’s either, will now though 😉
I went vegetarian in my thirties after cutting up a chicken one day. That lasted about 2 years but I ate such horrible things instead of meat that it never really registered as a more healthy way of life.
Vegan to me has changed my body and my soul. It’s more than just feeling like I have a new body (fewer aches and pains than in my 20’s…YES!) but I look at animals in a whole new light now. I remember your comment about the folks working at the Animal Shelter who go out for burgers after work? To each his own but the longer I’m Vegan, the more concerned I become about how animals are marketed to make us all feel warm and fuzzy about animal fat dripping down our chins from a big juicy burger, YUCK!
Your burgers are just perfectly tasting and perfectly kind 😉 Perfect combo.
Oh, Angela, TJs makes the best hummus! Except for mine, of course… ;-). Yes – agreed: body and soul change. And right: it’s amazing how we associate animal flesh/products with comfort and homey feelings when a creature had to die to provide those feelings. No thanks.
I agree with you Annie. I’m so thankful that I’m vegan now, but I definitely have to remember I too, once wasn’t, so I don’t drive my friends or family crazy with my statistics, haha! I’m just thankful that my choices are making an impact to others to at least start eating healthier and eat less meat. It is having an effect on them.
I, too, love making my burgers and they are super better than restaurant ones and of course healthier. Yours looks yummy! Love the walnuts!
I guess that’s really what it’s all about – – making the decision for one’s self and spreading the word through good food and kindness, not vegan bullying. Thanks for that perspective, Brandi.
Your burger looks stuffed with yummy goodness, far superior to any shop bought variety. I see your point about the classification of ‘vegetarian’ and although I often describe myself as vegetarian I’m aware that to a true vegetarian or vegan I don’t fit into that category since I occasionally eat fish. However, it’s been very useful for me to be able to use a label like that because it immediately tells anyone I’m dining with that I don’t want to eat meat. I wouldn’t mind there being another word in place of ‘vegetarian’ but I’m not aware of one (apart from vegaquarian or pescatarian, in my case). I often have debates with myself about what I am and what I ought to be, but feeling you have to fit a label can cause unnecessary stress. I want to be free to make choices about what I eat and it feels restrictive to put myself into a category with defined rules. On the other hand, if I did make the transition to full-time plant-based eating I probably would want to have a label, to make it quite clear what my beliefs were.
Lorna, I really thought about you while writing this post. I was worried I would hurt you! I do try not to judge a person based on what they eat (heck, I’d have to ditch my family 😉 ); it IS about content of character. But these thoughts come out now and again and I get into one of those maddening circular arguments with myself. It’s kind of like trying to figure out space – though admittedly not quite so weighty.
I was worried I might offend you with my comment! I wasn’t at all hurt or upset, I fully respect your views and who knows if I might come to hold them myself one day. It recently occurred to me that I can only truly adopt a plant-based lifestyle if I come to the decision independently, rather than being swayed by outside influences. It’s kind of like having a certain faith, it’s no good taking up a religion if you don’t genuinely believe the teachings. That’s where I’m at with veganism and vegetarianism, I see the arguments and I respect other people’s decisions, but as yet I don’t hold those views deep within myself, if you know what I mean. We all have to do things at our own pace for it to work out long term, I think.
I thought what you wrote was wonderfully thought provoking, however, and I imagine it would touch a chord with a lot of people, vegans and non-vegans alike. The idea of veganism goes against what most people in the western world have been brought up with so – for me at least – it’s not something I can decide about in an instant. I do think about it though, and I appreciate being able to read your views on the subject, which are always well written and informative. If you only stick with people who think exactly the same way you do then you severely limit your life experience. I’m grateful to you for doing what you do, even if I can’t always see it from the same standpoint.
You are exactly right, Lorna. It’s a decision you have to come to (or not) in your own way. I didn’t make the switch overnight and I wouldn’t have done it unless it felt absolutely right to me. No fads here, please.
I totally hear you Annie, especially about eggs, it was always an awkward one for me as a vegetarian, I’d make them then never be able to eat them!
I’m with you on the dream of mass conversion. Let’s stay hopeful.
As for the burgers – yum! Loving the flecks of corn 😀
I think it’ll be a very slow conversion and probably due more to necessity than empathy towards the creatures with whom we share the planet. But – – it veganism IS spreading. Feels good to be a part of that.
I only order burgers while I am out if I am at a vegan restaurant, or if it’s a boca patty! Other than that yes..they all have egg or even sometime cheese in the patty. These homemade burgers look 10X better than ANY restaurant frozen slop.
I really hate the labels and as I have mentioned in some of my posts I don’t even like to refer to myself as a vegan..it just throws too much confusion and judgement out there and all I care about is what works for me.
Lately I’ve noticed quite a few former vegans moving back towards omnivorous diets and my first reaction is prickly, but then I remember about that pesky thing called personal choice and I’m good with it (mostly). I certainly don’t want someone dictating to me what they think I should be eating.
I was months into my veganism before I realized the many veggie burgers aren’t vegan. Anyway, you’re right. Homemade ones are so much better than the ones you get at restaurants (except for the few good vegan restaurants that make their own veggie burgers). I haven’t made veggie burgers for a while, but maybe one day soon I’ll try your recipe. Black bean veggie burgers are my favorite!
Your veggie burger looks fabulous! Edamame hummus is new to me – I’ll have to make some. It looks delicious.
Just briefly, in regard to labels. I refer to myself as an ethical vegan. Why? I abhor violence, whether it is perpetrated against humans or other animals. Also, I cannot condone a system that regards newborn babies as waste products (calves, male chicks).
My vegan diet is just one manifestation of my belief system.
So, for me – in this case – it IS black and white. At the same time, I respect that not everyone feels this way.
Thanks for the thought provoking post. 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to comment so thoughtfully, Ally. For me, too, it is a black & white, and as you can tell from the post, it’s sometimes difficult for me to understand why it isn’t as clear cut for everyone else.
I struggle with comprehending that too.
oooh that gorgeous hearty huge burger! i love the first picture:)
i wish that too and hopefully we will see some good leaps towards a plant based diet in our lifetime. its frustrating discussing with fellow vegetarian-indians. vegetarianism is more of a religious outcome for them, so getting the point across about dairy is a slow and steady process.
Looks delish and nutrish. Thanks for sharing. Beet burgers are awesome as well, and avocado is a great sub for cheese.
I have been meaning to make beet burgers…they looks so good!
I wish I could had the ability to be a vegan but honestly, vegetarianism suits me fine – but i do dislike it when the vegetarians pretend they are as committed as vegans!
Lovely burgers, even a carnivore would love it 😀
You’ve gotta do what feels right for you, CCU xoxo!
Vegetarian is the same thing as vegan in most countries other than the US and European countries I think. I’m Chinese and in China, it is one and the same. I think (and I can’t be 100% sure) that vegetarian started out as 100% animal-free in the US and Europe, but since Americans and Europeans love their cheese, they started to say that vegetarians can eat anything as long as it is not the flesh of animal to loosen it up a little. In most Asian countries where they don’t have a lot of dairy in their cultures, a vegetarian is a vegan. I can let these dairy vegetarians off the hook, but someone who calls him/herself a vegetarian but eats FISH? Seriously, I can’t count the number of times someone tells me that they are vegetarian and then a few sentences later, they say “oh, and I also eat fish” – huh? since when are fish considered vegetables or not animal flesh?
Hi Helen – that is VERY interesting! I’m so glad you shared that perspective. It makes sense that in countries without a predominance of dairy products that vegetarian means a diet based solely on plants. So I’m not TOO far off in my logic ;-)! Yes, I debated about bringing up the fish thing. Strange, isn’t it, that some folks don’t consider fish a living creature…
I also want to add that the veggie “meat” patty at the restaurant may be vegan, BUT the bun might not be. I once went to a restaurant and there were hotdogs clearly marked as vegan. When I ordered it, the waitress told me that “the bun is not vegan – is that okay?” I am so grateful that she told me, because usually I would assume that anything marked as vegan on the menu means that the entire dish is vegan, not just some of it.
Another pitfall is french fries – I love french fries and always order them since they are just potatoes, salt and oil. But once at a restaurant, the waitress told me that the french fries are cooked in the same oil that fries meat (and “is that okay?”) — eekk!! No way! I’m so glad that these 2 waitresses happen to be so careful, but most wait staff will not bother to tell you. Now, I have to ask everytime I eat out.
It took me a while to also ask about the bread/buns – but it’s surprising how often some kind of dairy product is in them. Gosh, eating out is tough. I had not, however, thought about the oil! YIKES! Come to think of it there have been times when my fries have tasted…meaty? fishy?
I can totally relate to your frustration with store bought veggie burgers- whyyy wouldn’t they want to make them appropriate for all kinds of vegetarians. I mean from my perspective, apart from an ethical standpoint- it makes more sense from a business standpoint!
But, the fact that all veggie burgers aren’t appropriate for vegans leads us to create delicious creations like these. And I think that’s pretty great 🙂
Excellent point, Gabby! It’s good to look at the positives – making my own means I control the ingredients and know exactly what’s in there!
I think this is a really important topic to talk about, and honestly I’m not sure how to broach it with non-vegans.
I went vegan initially for health reasons (my cholesterol as a vegetarian was through the roof!), but the more I read about egg- and dairy-production, the happier I was to be opting out of both things. I almost feel like what stands between many vegetarians and veganism is education.
I’ve also noticed that whenever I write about these issues in non-vegan spaces, I catch a lot of flack. For example, I talked a bit about the downside to backyard chickens at Care2, and people got super nasty, calling my article “vegan propaganda” and attacking me personally. Denial is a powerful force. Here’s a link to that article, if you want to see how mean the comments got: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-trouble-with-backyard-chickens.html
I will definitely read your article – – and you see that kind of anger whenever the topic of veganism comes up. It’s really interesting (and puzzling) to me. I think that people really take it personally; it’s like discussing religion or politics. I even get push-back and anger from members of my own family and I can only surmise that they feel it’s an attack on their values or a judgment on the way I was raised – which it isn’t. Anyway…thank you for sharing the link and for your comment!
The anger always gets me, too. I think folks feel like you’re judging their choices, even when you really aren’t. The craziest for me is when someone gets defensive as soon as I order a vegan dish or make sure something is vegan before eating it. I try really hard not to judge other folks for their dietary choices, and it’s a little bit insulting when they assume that because one time a vegan person was rude about them ordering cheese, I will also be that way.
I also feel like people automatically get very defensive and sometimes nasty when they find out I am a vegan. It is so strange to me, because I I feel like it is okay for people to go on all sorts of diets such as the Atkins diet, Southbeach diets, grapefruit diets, etc. and no one bats an eye. In fact, it is almost trendy. But if you say you are a vegan, you suddenly conjure up people’s most defensive responses. They tell you why they think it’s okay to eat animals or why they can’t stop eating it for various reasons. They start questioning where you get your protein, etc.. Heck, nobody asks a supermodel who smokes cigarettes and drinks diet coke where she gets her protein. My personal opinion is that people know to a certain degree that they are eating an animal who was once alive and it causes them a certain level of guilt (some more than others) and it is this guilt that makes them automatically defensive and sometimes nasty. People don’t want to feel like they are cruel even if you are not saying it to them. I have had people tell me immediately after learning that I went vegan because of learning about factory farming that they don’t want to know and please don’t tell them because they can’t stand the truth. I think these people especially know that whatever factory farming is, it is very bad, and they don’t want to know because they don’t want to face the guilt of knowing. Plus, they just don’t want to face the dilemma of whether or not to give up meat.
I think that is so spot on, and it’s a bummer that this guilt suddenly becomes our problem when people find out that we are vegan.
I was going to say the same thing as Becky! Spot on, Helen! What is the saying: the guilty flee where no man pursues ;-)?
Wow…just wow (comments…).
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Just wanted to add that vegan means you don’t wear leather, wool, cashmere, etc. And don’t consume honey. So a lot of people who call themselves vegan are really vegetarians, just not ovo-lacto-vegetarians. And that’s why there are those prefixes for those who consume dairy and/or eggs.
Excellent points – thanks for adding your thoughts!
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Can you replace the vital wheat gluten with something else? I’m gluten free also!
Hi Amy! You can either omit it (the burgers might fall apart a bit easier) or try using flaxseed meal. Let the mixture sit for a while so that the flax has time to do its binding thing :-).
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