4 Healthy, Affordable and Delicious Plant-Based Meat Substitutes
Everyday more and more people choose a plant-based product over meat. Ethics, health concerns, trend, or simple curiosity – regardless of reasons, hundreds are now enjoying new cruelty-free foods.
We created a chart of the tastiest and the healthiest plant-based meat alternatives. Even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, you won’t regret trying them – but be careful, you might never want to go back to your old diet! In any case, don’t worry about losing your protein source even for a day – those options are just as nutritious as animal-based dishes, and sometimes are even tastier.
Some of them are easy to make at home, but you can pick it up at any grocery store to richen your casual meal. Those substitutes will absorb any flavor of your choice, so cooking them by yourself will open a great opportunity of having some quality MasterChef time. Pick up your spices and start experimenting!
However, if you’re not the biggest fan of cooking, you can try them out in cafes and restaurants (vegetarian places will definitely serve at least a few options) or buy a processed meatless substitute, so you will only need to heat it a bit. It might not be as healthy, but it’s quick, tasty, and what’s more important – ethical.
Broaden your food horizons and enjoy the taste!
Takes a lot of patience and bravery to cook, but pays off nicely! Seitan is made of gluten – the wheat protein. In order to make it yourself, you will only need few products: wheat, water, and spices of choice (broth or soy sauce can be added optionally). Seitan has a chewy, meat-y texture, it absorbs any spice and flavor of your choice, and it doesn’t need that much time to get cooked. It’s also full of protein – 100 g. contains 75 g. of protein – the same amount of beef, for example, only has 26 g. To make it quick, you can simply buy a wheat gluten ‘flour’ (wheat protein with all the starch washed out).
Important note: if you have gluten intolerance or celiac decease, please skip this recipe and enjoy other delicious substitutes!
Tempeh isn’t as popular as it’s soy-sibling tofu, but it might be even more sapid and mellow. It has a unique a savory, nutty taste. Tempeh is made of fermented soybeans that form a specific dense, uneven texture. Although soy tempeh is the most popular kind, it could also be made from other grains. This is one of the firmest plant-based meat substitutes, so you can use it for cooking burgers, stakes, or salads. For example, if you’re looking for a plant ingredient that can work as a chicken substitute and still fall on spectrum of whole foods, tempeh is your choice.
Tempeh will also gracefully absorb any flavor of your choice and reward you with a lot of protein: in contains 19 g. per 100 g. of the product (not as much as seitan does, but still more than eggs do – only 13 g. for the same amount).
Red lentil sauce
Red lentil is one of the least known whole foods meat substitutes. While being quite affordable, it cooks very fast, contains a lot of protein and has a moist, velvet taste – almost like a good gravy. It’s bright orange color will garnish even the exquisite dishes. The protein content of lentil is similar to a regular meat serving, but it is actually considered healthier: meat usually contains much more fat.
Try cooking lentil with garlic, tomato paste and spices! Sauté one small onion in a stew-pan, add a cup of red lentil and two tbsp. tomato paste. Mix well, add 3 cups of hot water and let it stew for 20-30 mins. Add more water if necessary. Cook until it boils so good it acquires smooth, sauce-like texture. Use it as gravy with veggies, rice, or pasta.
While it might not be the easiest choice for a homemade cooking session, it’s still quite popular and relatively easy to acquire. Tofu is widely known for its unique silky texture and nutritional value. It contains all 9 essential amino acids, it is also a great source of calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin B1.
Stir the firm kind of tofu with veggies, add it to soups, or make spicy curry. Softer varieties of tofu are well-known for their creamy texture and commonly used in smoothies, pastry, or even desserts.