Over the years, many people have stopped eating meat altogether because of the positive environmental, moral, and healthful impacts vegetarianism and veganism bring to the world. It’s just a great feeling knowing that you’re letting another animal roam free, that your body is changing for the better, and that the planet gets to breathe easy!
However, many people who have made the jump do miss the taste of meat sometimes, and that’s not a bad thing. Luckily, there are so many meat substitutes on the market nowadays that they don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying that savory, meaty taste.
Let’s take a look at our top 10 list of meat substitutes for your next meal!
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is commonly cultivated in Asia, Africa, and South America. It is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world and can easily weigh 40 pounds! Under its thick, tough exterior is sweet, yellow meat that can smell quite off-putting to those unfamiliar with it.
Because of its similar consistency to shredded meat, many people use jackfruits as a meat substitute for things like pulled pork, tacos, nachos, and chili.
Tofu is one of the oldest tricks in the meat substitute book. Made with curdled soybeans, tofu is a highly versatile ingredient that comes in soft, firm, and extra-firm depending on your preference. Because of its bland, almost tasteless flavor, it can be mixed with almost anything and can even be cooked multiple ways—baked, grilled, fried… the sky’s the limit with tofu!
Tofu is incredibly nutrient-dense. It’s packed with proteins and a little bit of carbohydrates and fats without adding too much to your calorie intake. It’s also loaded with minerals that are good for the body.
Tempeh is similar to tofu, but it’s made with fermented soybeans instead. It’s also incorporated with various other grains and beans for an extra punch of flavor. And just like tofu, tempeh can be cooked in several ways—it can be fried, grilled, baked, sautéed, and more.
Unlike tofu, however, tempeh is a hit-or-miss for some people. That’s because of its fermentation—its taste has a bit of tanginess and nuttiness. It can also get a lot tougher than tofu, which turns people off.
Start by adding tempeh to salads or wraps before adding more of it to your cooked meals, just to see if you like it.
Lentils are one of the most versatile meat substitutes around. It’s been a staple of the vegetarian and vegan diet for many years and comes in a wide array of colors like green, black, yellow, brown, and red.
It’s also sold several ways. You can buy them fresh and whole, in a can, or even incorporated into everyday kitchen ingredients like pasta!
The consistency of lentils is similar to that of ground meat if you cook it properly. Make sure to cook them until they’re soft but not too mushy. From there, you can add them to pasta sauces, stews, stir-fries, curries, and more.
Seitan is commonly referred to as “wheat meat” because it is made of wheat gluten. Its texture is similar to that of meat, and it’s sold in stores either grounded or in strips. Taste-wise, it kind of tastes like mushrooms—very earthy and savory flavors that work perfectly for stews and stir-fries. You can also add them to a grill for a nice barbecue taste.
Now, because it’s made of wheat, this isn’t the best meat substitute to have if you’re trying to lay off the carbohydrates, so just keep that in mind.
Black beans are a staple in every North American household, and it’s easy to understand why. Packed with protein, carbohydrates, and fiber, and loaded with rich antioxidants that reduce your risk of various illnesses, black beans are perfect for all kinds of dishes. You can buy them either dry or canned, though the former is a lot healthier.
We definitely suggest adding black beans to Mexican dishes like tacos, quesadillas, and burritos.
Veggie burgers are the perfect option for those wanting to make the switch from meat-eating to meat-free. They feel just like a regular old burger without the guilt! And the best part is, there’s a whole wealth of veggie burgers to choose from at your local grocery store and a whole wealth of recipes you could try if you want to make them at home.
Veggie burgers are made with a combination of minced veggies, beans, and grains and bonded together with an egg. Then, you add paprika or liquid smoke to give it that meaty flavor.
These cutely-named veggies are also called garbanzo beans (though not as cute). They’re a common ingredient found in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures. It has a slight nuttiness and graininess to it that can be quite creamy when blended.
Chickpeas are a great source of nutrients that work together to make you feel full longer, which is great for weight management. It improves your blood circulation and regulation, aids digestion, strengthens the immune system, and so much more.
Just like veggie burgers, plant-based sausages are great for those who miss the taste of meat. They’re typically made of grains, beans, and vegetables that are blended so perfectly that they taste and feel just like real meat.
Plant-based sausages are low in sodium and other harmful preservatives. They will make you wonder why you ever decided to eat meat sausages in the first place. Add these to hotdog buns, pasta, and other savory dishes!
Plant-Based Chicken Nuggets
Chicken nuggets are a childhood favorite for many Americans, which is why many companies have started offering chicken-like alternatives for vegetarians and vegans. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any grocery store that doesn’t carry some type of veggie chicken!
Besides eating them as is with a nice dollop of ketchup or barbecue sauce on the side, you can add them to sandwiches, salads, wraps, and more to have a nice crunch with every bite.
There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the taste of “meat” on your vegetarian or vegan diet as there are plenty of meat substitutes out there that you can choose from. So, head on over to your nearest grocery store and start experimenting!