Have you got your sights set on going vegan, but aren’t sure how you’re going to get on with cutting meat out of your diet?
Fortunately, there are lots of vegan meat substitutes out there for you to try. Let’s take a look at some of them…
Some vegan meat alternatives to try
JackfruitDon’t be put off by the unusual name. It may be a fruit that’s connected to figs, but when you shred it, the texture isn’t too dissimilar to shredded meat. It doesn’t have an overpowering taste either, so can be combined with most sauces to make dishes, such as pulled ‘pork’ and jackfruit nachos.1
TofuIt may not be meat, but it’s nice and chunky like meat. Made from soya beans and a good source of protein, you can cut tofu up it whatever sized pieces you like or mince it to give dishes more substance. These days, it’s available in different variations, which include aromatic and smoked versions, which can help it seem a bit more ‘meatier’. 2
TempehLike tofu, tempeh’s made from soya beans and contains protein. It has a chewy, meaty texture that doesn’t break down during cooking and is really good at absorbing sauces for a flavourful result.3
LentilsAre great for making dishes, such as Bolognese with (combine them with sliced mushrooms) or you can pop them in stews or stir-fries. Ideally, you want to gently boil them, but not so long they turn mushy.4 Did we mention they also contain protein too? Around 18g per 240ml cooked cup.5
Oat flakesYou can do much more with oats than simply enjoy them for breakfast. You can use oat flakes to create cutlets, simply by frying oat dough with vegetable broth, fat, grated carrots and courgettes, and any other vegetable proteins of your choice. You can even get pulled oats, which are an alternative to pulled pork.6
SoyrizoYep, you guessed it, soyrizo is the soy version of the popular Mexican chorizo sausage! Like chorizo, soyrizo, is spicy and looks a lot like chorizo. It also contains around 60% less fat and can be used for all sorts of dishes, ranging from tacos to omelettes.7 (Try this recipe: Meat-free Chicken, Chorizo and Cider Pot Pies).
Black beansSpeaking of tacos, another vegan meat alternative that goes great in tacos is canned black beans. Drain and simmer them or blend them and turn them into meat-free burgers; they’re incredibly versatile.8 (Try this recipe: Bean and Meat-free Sausage Casserole).
Green speltIs a type of wheat, which contains B vitamins, magnesium and phosphorous. You can make semolina from green spelt and it can also be used to make patties, cutlets and non-meat meatballs.9
SeitenHave you heard of seiten AKA ‘wheat meat?’ It’s made from wheat gluten, which closely resembles the look and texture of meat protein. You can use it as a very close chicken substitute, as well as for stir-fries, salads and curries.10 It’s high up there in the protein ranks too – it contains 25g of protein per 100g.11
ChickpeasThey contain more protein than many types of meat, as well as iron and calcium. They’re also rich in fibre, which means they’re nice and filling. They can be found in dishes, such as falafel, houmous and curries12 , as well as flour. (Try this recipe: Vegan ‘Meatball’ Subs).
Vegan protein sources
As well as looking and tasting like meat, what’s great about many of the ingredients above is that they’re packed full of protein.
Meat, fish, eggs and dairy tend to be the main protein providers for non-vegans, but if you’re vegan or are planning to switch to veganism, then you’ll need to find your protein intake from elsewhere.Why do we need protein? Because it’s one of the core components for body functioning and repair and is central to the production of muscles, tendons, organs and skin, as well as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and more.13 According to the NHS, the Recommended Daily Allowance for adults is 50g.14 It’s worth bearing this in mind when you’re choosing your meat substitutes; check out their protein levels and try to incorporate high protein foods into your diet as much as possible. Good luck with making the move to meat-free eating. For more insight on vegan protein foods, check out this article, ‘The best sources of protein if you’re vegan.’ Last Updated: 23rd September 2020