Vegan Meat Substitutes

Vegan meat substitutes – What are the best options?

Once upon a time vegan meat substitutes were horrid, I mean absolutely disgusting. When I was in high school, my father had to cut down on his cholesterol and the doctor recommended that he eat veggie burgers. Well, holy veggie patty, were they disgusting!

Flash forward to today and lucky for us, it has never been easier to be vegan. There are now many delicious vegan meat substitutes, and new exciting things coming out every day, so many in fact that it might be overwhelming at first. Don’t worry, I’ll break them down and explain them all.

A kind of comprehensive list of vegan meat substitutes!

Okay, here we go. I hope you are ready!

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP):

Of all the vegan meat substitutes, TVP really has one of the most meaty textures. It is dehydrated soy beans (usually, sometimes it’s made with oats or wheat) that can be rehydrated and made into fake chicken, beef and pork. It comes in many different styles, like chunks or flakes, so you can pick  which ones you like the best. 

A great thing about TVP is that it can be purchased on Amazon, meaning that if you live in the boonies and have no whole foods or health food shops near you, it won’t be a problem to acquire. 

To eat TVP you simply need to boil it for a bit, usually about 10 minutes, to rehydrate it, and you are ready to go. It is packed with protein and has very little fat.  A little known fact about soybeans is that they are packed with potassium. It is estimated that americans and europeans eat less than half of the daily recommended value (4500mg).  Potassium is a super important nutrient that is found in a few things, so any great source of it is a boon. 

Seitan:

Seitan is made from wheat gluten, so if you are allergic to wheat avoid this option. Seitan is delicious and comes in many different forms, some pre-packaged and seasoned and some just ready for you to prepare the way you like. Seitan makes good vegan meat substitutes and almost has a sort of chicken-y texture. You can also replace some beef recipes with it as well, especially when it is ground.

If you can season chicken, you can season seitan. They come in strips, steaks, cubed and ground variations and are packed with protein. I personally love putting some seitan on top of a delicious salad bed… ah yeah!

You can typically find it in health food stores and even in some major super market chains.

SOY:

There are tons of soy based vegan meat substitutes so I’ll break them down in to sub categories.

Tofu

Well, this is purely subjective, but I kind of hate tofu. Don’t let that discourage you from benefitting from the awesomeness that is tofu, it just isn’t my cup of soy. Don’t get me wrong, I eat it, and sometimes even enjoy it, like in vegan scrambled eggs for example, but give me a choice between tofu and all the others and I will avoid tofu. 

When I do eat tofu, I prefer the extra firm texture as the softer ones kind of gross me out. All in all though tofu is a great source of protein and can really be used to make some awesome meals. Okay, I puked in my mouth a little bit just thinking about it. Although I hate tofu, that doesn’t mean you can’t love it, the wonderful thing about this life is there are all kinds of different tastes and we all don’t have to be the same. So, although I do not use it as one of my main vegan meat substitutes, it is super healthy, lean and packed with protein.

Tempeh

Okay now we’re talking. Tempeh is delicious. I know it is similar to tofu, but holy vegan guacamole is it good! Tempeh is fermented soybeans made into a cakeform and is so delicious it is ridiculous. Turtle Island Foods brand makes some amazing marinated tempeh. You can also buy some unseasoned tempeh and marinate it yourself. Tempeh is delicious and you should honestly not deprive yourself of it.

Of all the vegan meat substitutes on this list, tempeh is one of my favorite.     

Soy Meats 

Soy makes great vegan meat substitutes, as it has a ton of protein, is easy to flavor and it can faithfully reproduce many types of dead animal flesh. I have eaten soy chicken, beef, seafood and pork and the soy versions are getting so close to the real thing that sometimes I get grossed out a bit, which is a good thing, I guess.

There are tons of brands that sell all kinds of tasty soy products ranging from fake barbecue pulled pork, to shrimp. I would recommend Tofurky brand, everything they make is just amazing. Other great brands are Gardein, who have a lot of great frozen vegan meat products like chicken strips and beef cubes, and Lightlife, who makes smart dogs, a delicious vegan hotdog. Trader Joe’s brand makes a killer fake chicken nugget, and of course, I have to mention Boca. Boca makes the quintessential vegan hamburger patty and a ‘slap your mom it’s so good’ spicy chicken patty. 

You will easily be able to find most of these soy meat replacements in major grocery chains and obviously in health food stores.  

Soy beans are a complete protein, which is awesome because it has all the essential amino acids that your body needs to be healthy, and like mentioned above,  soy has a lot of potassium, so that is a plus. Rice and beans also make a complete protein, which leads me to one of the best vegan meat substitutes…

Legumes:

Beans are an excellent, excellent, EXCELLENT meat substitute. They are packed with iron, protein  and potassium, have tons of fiber and are delicious! Don’t forget that soy is a bean!

During world war II, meat was rationed for the brave soldiers fighting overseas. Back at home the government recommended eating lentil beans as they were the closest thing to meat. Well, the same holds true to now, beans make excellent… EXCELLENT vegan meat substitutes. They are also ridiculously cheap and super easy to find. 

Bananas:

Bananas, surprisingly, make excellent vegan meat substitutes, particularly in vegan cheeseburgers and in fake steaks. 

Mushrooms:

Okay, I was just kidding about the bananas, but if you have never eaten a delicious portobello mushroom sandwich, and you have access to transportation, have enough money and are willing, you need to stop reading this right now and go eat one. Holy shiitake, why are you still reading!

Seriously though, mushrooms can make a pretty decent meat replacement. You can put them in tacos and burritos, sandwiches and all sorts of other recipes. Although they are not packed with protein, as much as say, a legume, they are still really good for you and are a great source of vitamin D.

Mushrooms are really good vegan meat substitutes, as they have a great texture. You really should get to know them better, they really are a fungi. There are all sorts of different kinds, which makes it fun to try them out. Shiitake mushrooms are interesting because they have adaptogenic properties. What that means is that they will slow down all your hyperactive systems and glands and speed up the hypoactive ones. In short, they make you healthier and more able to adapt to stress. It might be a good idea to eat plenty of them if you suffer from anxiety, depression and stress. So keep that in mind the next time you make a cheap shiitake pun.

Quorn makes a great meat replacement made from mushrooms, but I can’t categorize it with the other vegan meat substitutes, only thing holding it back, along with real meat, is it isn’t vegan. ARGH!

Those are the most popular vegan meat replacements, so eat away!

Chowhound out.