The Newbie Vegan's Guide to Alternative Meat Substitutes

Searching for good vegetarian food can be intimidating, especially when you don’t know where to look. Plant-based eating has surged in popularity over the last few years, which means you’ll have more options available, but it can be challenging to know how to find the best meat replacements. The good news is that with a bit of knowledge and guidance, you’ll know the best alternative meat substitutes to put in your diet.


There are two general types of meat substitutes on the market. The first consists of ready-made foods that are processed to closely resemble meat with the same shapes, flavours, and consistency. They look, feel, and taste so much like meat that even dedicated carnivores have been fooled. The second type consists of natural alternatives that do not look like meat but offer the same texture. Here are some of the top alternative meat substitutes that will put an end to your quest for tasty, meatless, and good vegetarian food:


Ready-Made Meat Substitutes


Whether you’re craving for the best veggie burger or you’re in the mood for vegan-friendly fast food, numerous ready-made meat substitutes on the market will satiate your hunger. All your favourite meat products, like bleeding beef burgers, chicken nuggets, and even maple-flavoured bacon, are available in meatless varieties. They closely resemble the flavours, texture, and shape of these products to the point that they’re almost indistinguishable, especially to the newbie vegan.


These meat substitutes help many vegans transition from a carnivorous diet, allowing them to fulfil their cravings without breaking their commitment to a plant-based diet. However, it’s best to treat these meat replacements as if they’re the real thing, like something to eat occasionally. Even though they aren’t made from animal meat, they are heavily processed to look like it, so it’s best to eat this once in a while.


Seitan



However, if you’re ready to commit to natural substitutes without heavy processing, then seitan is an excellent alternative. Originating in East Asia, it has the meatiest texture, making it a popular ingredient in meatless dishes. However, it’s made of wheat gluten, which is vital to know if you’re allergic.


Seitan is porous, making it great for sauce-heavy dishes like curries, casseroles, and stews. You can even use it in stir-fries by coating it in breadcrumbs.


Tofu



Tofu is the most popular and widely available meat substitute. It has also been a staple ingredient in East and Southeast Asian cuisine centuries before veganism took over the western world. Tofu is available in varieties from extra firm to silken, whose texture and firmness are essential to consider when adding it to a dish.


If you’d like to put tofu in a savoury dish, you’ll want the extra-firm kind, which holds up well to stir-fries and getting cut into cubes or slices. Soft tofu goes well in sauces, soups, salad dressings, dips, and even desserts. Whatever you have in mind for tofu, it’s a popular ingredient in good vegetarian food.


Tempeh



Tempeh is made by fermenting soybeans until they resemble firm pieces that look like steak. It uses whole beans, which means tempeh packs more protein and fibre than tofu does. Tempeh is best roasted or fried with vegetables or as another source of protein in a salad.


Soy Protein



Soy protein is a popular ingredient in good vegetarian food like vegan lasagna, Bolognese, or even cottage pie since it resembles the taste and texture of minced beef or lamb. It is also incredibly flexible since you can shape its flavours by adding your desired seasoning.


Jackfruit



Even though jackfruit is actual fruit, it has a meaty texture that strongly resembles animal meat, particularly once the fruit has matured. Its stringy, fleshy qualities allow it to retain sauces and flavours like barbecue and chilli, making it an exceptional replacement for pulled pork. It shines best in sweet-savoury dishes with strong spices and flavours.


Conclusion


Thanks to the endless meat substitutes available, there’s never been a better time to be a vegan than today. With so much good vegan food to go around, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the switch to a plant-based lifestyle much sooner!


Veganation is Montréal’s top restaurant and épicerie offering vegan-friendly fast food. We also have a subscription box service where you can get good vegetarian food delivered straight to your home. Check out our menu today!



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