There are quite a few imitation beef products on the market that have a similar taste and texture, but are produced using fewer inputs making them more environmentally sound, not to mention the absence of slaughter which makes them more appealing ethically. Textured vegetable protein, soy, and even portabella mushrooms make delicious replacements for beef.
There are many vegetarian substitutes for ground beef. Some of these are more convincing than others, and it depends on the application and of course the person. Seitan (http://vegetarian.about.com/od/glossary/g/Seitan.htm)is made from gluten, similar to tofu but closer in texture to real meat. Morning Star and Boca also make realistic ground beef. Here is an article that lists many other sources: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/460945/top_10_vegetarian_meat_substitutes.html?cat=5.
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