Atlantic Sea Farms, which is based in Biddeford, sold more than 300,000 of its veggie burgers across the country last year. Photo by Lauren Lear

Maine’s homegrown veggie burger industry is expanding to meet increased demand, as the sector adjusts to the shuttering last year of a long-running manufacturer.

Biddeford-based Atlantic Sea Farms, for one, is expanding its production to supply national retailers. The company debuted its basil pesto and ginger sesame burgers in late 2022 at a national health food grocery chain. Last year, the company sold more than 300,000 patties – all made with Maine-grown kelp – making it the state’s largest veggie burger manufacturer.

“Our veggie burgers have seen a large amount of interest in the world of retail,” said Kiera Foti, brand manager for Atlantic Sea Farms. “They launched with Sprouts Farmers Market in the natural channel, and this year we’re starting to see a lot of interest from conventional grocers as people are focusing on getting their minerals and nutrients in a more plant-forward diet. Kelp is known to provide all these rich minerals from the sea that you’re not getting from land vegetables as much, like iodine, B12, and manganese.”

Along with green chickpeas (harvested early and then frozen), pea protein and brown rice, the star ingredient is the kelp, which is farmed along the Maine coast. Atlantic Sea Farm’s other products include smoothie cubes and seaweed salads.

Veggie burgers differ from plant-based hamburgers, such as Beyond Burgers and Impossible Burgers, in that they are made from whole foods, typically grains and beans, and are not designed to mimic meat. Like their meat counterpoints, though, you can eat them in a bun, and you can also add them to salads, stuff them in pitas, or crumble them to use in tacos and other dishes.

Veggie burgers first appeared on Maine restaurant menus in the 1970s. Portland’s The Hollow Reed, for example, offered a veggie burger on its opening menu in 1974, selling it as a “grain burger”; the term veggie burger took hold in the 1980s.


In 2007, Blue Mango began selling frozen veggie burgers wholesale; the burgers had been the most popular menu item served at its West End restaurant of the same name. The frozen patties were primarily sold to restaurants, though Hannaford and Whole Food also stocked them. In 2019, the company was selling almost 200,000 patties a year, but the pandemic hit hard, and in 2023, Blue Mango closed down. (The restaurant closed in 2001.)

Other Maine veggie burger manufacturers have stepped up to fill the gap in the market.

“I definitely have seen an impact with the Blue Mango business,” said Jaime Shaw, co-owner of Freeport-based veggie burger maker Veggie Life.

Shaw said some restaurants and distributors that carried the Blue Mango burgers had an inventory of the frozen patties that only recently ran out, spurring them to look for alternatives. She expects to see even more interest in her burgers this summer, when restaurant demand for veggie burgers spikes with the increase in tourists.

In March, Veggie Life introduced a garlic pesto variety during an event at Three Dollar Dewey’s in the Old Port, where the company’s original quinoa and sunflower seed burger has been on the menu for years. Veggie Life burgers are primarily sold in restaurants, among them the Saltwater Grille in South Portland and The Oxford House Inn in Fryeburg. The Mainely Provisions stores in Kingfield and Bethel carry Veggie Life frozen burgers, which can also be ordered online for pickup at the company’s kitchen in Freeport.

Corinth-based Little Lad’s has also seen demand increase since Blue Mango shuttered.


“Just in the past few months, one of our distributors has started supplying our First Hand Burgers to Hannaford stores around Maine and New Hampshire,” said Maria Fleming, founder and owner of Little Lad’s.

The First Hand burger is made from rolled oats, sunflower seeds and wheat gluten. Its name is a reference to Maine native and Seventh Day Adventist Ellen G. White, who wrote in 1905 that “Those who eat flesh are but eating grains and vegetables second hand.”

The burger began life at the company’s original restaurant, in Woolwich. By the early 2000s, Little Lad’s was selling the burgers wholesale. Today, you can find them at Clayton’s Cafe in Yarmouth, many Maine health food stores, and the company’s own restaurant, now in Corinth. Little Lad’s also sells a Meet-ball version.

All of Maine’s commercial veggie burger manufacturers produce vegan burgers, and many restaurant veggie burgers are also vegan. However, diners looking to avoid cheese or eggs need to be aware that some restaurant veggie burgers include these ingredients (it’s always a good idea to ask). At least one Maine veggie burger – the black bean burger at The Miller’s Table in Skowhegan – is neither vegan nor vegetarian, as it contains fish-based Worcestershire sauce.

When GráKake in Westbrook launched in 2021, it made both vegetarian and vegan burgers. Now GráKake has streamlined its offerings to the vegan line. The burgers, made with oats and flax seeds, come in ginger-carrot-coconut, sesame-scallion-lemongrass and Southwest varieties.

“We are in a growth phase,” GráKake owner Michael Shaughnessy said. The Great Lost Bear in Portland recently added the burgers to its menu, and Nighthawk’s Kitchen in Freeport also serves them. GráKake burgers are also sold from the freezer case at Pat’s Meat Market, Lois’ Natural, The Good Life Market, Morning Glory and The Umbrella Factory.


Shaughnessy, a Westbrook city councilor and recently retired professor from the University of Southern Maine, hosts summertime concerts at his homestead, where he sometimes serves GráKake burgers. (This year, the performances are scheduled to start on May 24 with a dance party featuring the Montgomery Road Band.)

Another local company may soon enter the market: After winning seed money from Biddeford’s Main Street Pitch Contest, Vickie’s Veggie Table plans to launch a frozen veggie burger company this summer.

If you want to see a full array of veggie burgers, head to Lois’ Natural Marketplace in Scarborough, which stocks more than a dozen varieties, including several locally made ones.

“Veggie burgers sell quite well, overall, “said Kelly McGovern, general manager and buyer at Lois’ Natural Marketplace. “There’s a strong interest.” She added that customers scrambled to find any remaining frozen Blue Mango burgers after they learned the company had folded.

Fortunately, Maine’s veggie burger producers have stepped up to meet the demand.

Kate Huntress’ Savory Quinoa and Mushroom Burger. Photo by Kate Huntress

Kate Huntress’ Savory Quinoa and Mushroom Burgers
Kate Huntress of Yarmouth shares vegan recipes online at


Makes 4 burgers

1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup rolled oats, processed into flour in a blender or food processor
1 tablespoon ground flax seed soaked in 3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons hummus (any variety)
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 buns, to serve

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a small saucepan, and stir in quinoa. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the broth is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove the lid and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water, the mushrooms and onion. Sauté until the onions are tender and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 more minute.

Transfer the cooked quinoa and the mushroom-onions mixture into a large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients except for the burger buns, and stir until combined.

Form the mixture into 4 burger patties of equal size. Refrigerate the patties if not cooking them immediately.

Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and spray lightly with cooking oil. Cook the burgers for 5-7 minutes, flip them over and continue cooking 4-6 minutes more, lowering the heat if needed to avoid over-charring.

Serve on the buns, with your favorite toppings and condiments.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. Reach her at

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