Over the last couple of years, we’ve been seeing a dramatic increase in the number of vegans in the United States.
The VOU even notes that there are now approximately 9.7 million Americans, and counting, following a vegan diet.
Additionally, more people are consuming less meat in general, due to health reasons and environmental concerns.
As a result, the hunt for meat alternatives is on.
The good news is that the consumer market now offers many options that you can use to recreate meat dishes without involving actual meat.
Below are some of the very best meat substitutes you can use.
Also known as “wheat gluten,” seitan is made by adding water to wheat flour and removing the starch.
The result is a hydrated, chewy strip that absorbs flavors from sauces and seasonings.
It can be used in place of beef or chicken, as it’s high in protein and low in carbs.
To cook it, you can do a quick pan-fry with a splash of curry powder, or even grill it with a hefty serving of barbecue sauce.
If you are cooking a soup or stew, you can add bits of seitan for a protein boost as well.
Plant-based meat is made from a mix of, well, plants (such as wheat and seitan) but looks, feels, and even tastes like real meat.
However, SymptomFind, a reputable online health resource, once did a deep dive into the meat alternative and found that while plant-based meats are made from healthy ingredients like soy flour and rolled oats, they’re not always healthy.
This is because some plant-based meats, like those sold by Impossible Burger, are either high in saturated fat or sodium.
Therefore, always remember to check the plant meat’s ingredient list before you purchase it.
Plant-based meat is cooked like any other slab of meat out there — you can grill it, sear it, roast it, and even bake it.
Every online recipe with meat as its main ingredient can be recreated with this plant-based alternative.
Mushrooms continue to be one of the most popular meat alternatives in the world, according to Civil Eats, because of their savory flavor and meaty texture.
Plus, they’re low in calories and high in fiber, so they are perfect for anyone trying to lose weight.
Aside from being nutritious, mushrooms are also extremely versatile.
You can grill portobello mushroom caps and substitute them for burger patties or steaks, for example.
And you can also add them to pasta sauces to create a richer flavor and texture.
You can even eat them spiced and deep-fried like chicken pops, or baked and chopped to create vegan “bacon” bits.
The only downside to mushrooms is that they’re fairly low in protein.
You’ll have to consume protein-rich foods like nuts to ensure that you have a balanced meal.
4-Beans and Legumes
Speaking of protein-rich foods, beans and legumes, much like nuts, are examples of such food.
They may not look or taste anything like meat but their protein levels are near equal.
Plus, they’re affordable and filling.
There’s an abundance of bean and legume varieties, so you can be more creative with your recipes.
For instance, you can combine lentils and potatoes to create a hearty soup, or throw beans and corn together for a satisfying dessert.
Instead of beef, black beans can be used for burgers or chili as well.
Soybeans are used for tofu and tempeh, which are very popular among vegans.
Tofu is made from coagulated soy milk.
Once cooked, it absorbs sauces and seasonings, making it a favorite ingredient in various dishes — especially in Asian cuisine.
You can grill it with teriyaki flavors, for instance, or cook it like breaded meat.
On the other hand, tempeh is made from cooked, fermented, and molded soybeans.
Its flavor closely resembles beef, so it goes very well with peanut-based and savory sauces.
If you want to incorporate some fiber, you can have soybeans brown rice.
Just because you’re leading a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean you should be missing out on the taste and nutritional value that comes with meat.
With the countless meat substitutes out there, the only thing keeping you from creating delicious, nutritious, and satisfying “meatful” meals is your creativity.