Vegans are 100% right: eating less meat not only protects the environment but is also better for your health. Incorporating vegan meat substitutes into your diet is not difficult at all. This article shows you where to find and how to make meat alternatives for your vegan diet.
Frankly speaking, vegan or not, you can benefit greatly from eating plant-based diet alternatives often. With the availability of numerous meatless meal options, you can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and be healthier in the long run. Choosing a vegan meal replacement can, however, be difficult without proper guidance.
How To Choose Good Vegan Meat Alternatives
Before we explain vegan meat further, it's important to know what qualifies meatless meat as a plant-based alternative. These tips will help you choose the right vegan substitutes at the grocery store:
- Examine labels to find vegan meat substitutes that contain protein.
- Look for nutrients that are almost absent in plant-based diets, such as iron, calcium, and B12.
- Avoid foods that contain ingredients to be excluded from your diet, such as dairy.
- Basically, watch out for vegan meat products that meet your nutritional needs and fit into your diet restrictions.
What Can I Use In Place Of Meat?
You stand to gain a lot more health-wise by switching to vegan meat substitutes. Fortunately for us, vegans, there are quite a lot of foods that can replace meat. Want to eat something 'meaty' that taste just as good as meat? Here are some vegan meat options you should include in your next meal:
- Tofu: Tofu has been an ever-present staple in Asian cuisine. It is one of the best substitutes for meats such as chicken, beef, pork, and seafood in many vegan recipes. Tofu is made from soybeans and has high protein and calcium content. This gives it a 'chewy' feeling, which is similar to meat. It also absorbs seasoning quite well, giving it sumptuous flavors you will definitely enjoy.
- Tempeh: Tempeh is the firmer version of tofu and sometimes has a grainy texture. Also made from soybeans, tempeh is a fermented soy extraction with a nutty flavor. Unlike Tofu, you don't have to slice, dice, or grind Tempeh in a food processor. You only have to steam it for a couple minutes, and it's primed for use. Tempeh replaces fish in many vegan recipes.
- Seitan: Also known as wheat gluten, seitan is extracted from gluten. It is prepared by mixing wheat flour in water and then extracting the starch. Seitan is chewy and has some flavor. It is often dipped in soy sauce and other marinades. You can find seitan in supermarkets in strips and chunks.
- Mushrooms: Want an unprocessed plant-based option, mushrooms are a great choice. Naturally, they have a savory, meaty flavor. Mushrooms are high in fiber, which make them good options for people trying to lose weight.
- Jackfruit: This is a tropical fruit with subtle flesh. It has a chewy feel and is often used to replace meat in many vegan recipes.
Other great vegan meat substitutes include lentils, beans & legumes, eggplants, potatoes, beets, and textured vegetable protein.
Are Vegan Meat Alternatives Healthy?
Vegan meat is on an upward trend. Even top food companies like McDonald's and KFC are venturing into the plant-based sector. However, many people are skeptical about the healthiness of such vegan meat products. Are they really healthy? Well, yes and no.
Yes, homemade vegan meat alternatives are healthy. Nothing beats meals cooked at home. Vegan meals can be made naturally from fresh produce. To enjoy healthy vegan meat alternatives, go to the grocery store, buy some fresh tofu, tempeh, or seitan and whip something delicious inside your own kitchen/
No, vegan meat products sold at restaurants are not healthy. Why, because such vegan meats contain high volumes of sodium used for preservation. This means vegan meat contains too much salt for an average human being, raising blood pressure and increasing heart attack and stroke risk. Also, vegan meat such as Burger King's Impossible Whopper shares a similar calorie count and fat content with a meat burger.
What Is The Healthiest Meat Substitute?
Vegans who switch to meat substitutes often get asked where they get their protein from. Indeed, meat provides high protein content, but numerous meat substitutes can provide a similar protein amount. In fact, vegan meat substitutes provide fiber and probiotics, healthy properties that are absent in meat.
The healthiest meat substitutes are outlined as follows:
- Tempeh: Being a fermented food, tempeh is full of probiotics, calcium, and antioxidants that reduce cholesterol levels.
- Natto: Another fermented soy extract that is rich in protein, iron, manganese, and magnesium.
- Mushrooms: Contains antioxidant and antimicrobial properties necessary for boosting the immune system
- Lentils: Edible pulses that are full of fiber, folate, manganese, and iron. Really helpful in managing blood sugar levels and controlling weight gain.
- Jackfruit: High in vitamin C and fiber necessary for enhancing immunity, digestion, and heart health.
- Beans and Legumes: Good sources of protein as well as iron and folate. Sprouting legumes boosts their nutrient content.
- Nuts and Seeds: These are rich in fiber, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Tofu and Seitan do not make this list due to their unhealthy potentials. Tofu, on the one hand, is unfermented, meaning it does not provide powerful probiotics like Tempeh. Seitan, on the other hand, is mostly bought from the store. This means it is processed to an extent, filled with sodium and additives, reducing its health benefits.
What Is The Best Meatless Product?
Say you want to host a barbeque or grill party around the neighborhood and want to encourage vegan meat consumption but don't know what to serve. These meatless products are the best on the market and can help ignite a spark in your party.
- Beyond Burger: It only takes a few minutes to grill. This vegan burger looks, feels, and tastes like the real deal while providing 20 grams of protein.
- Gardein Ultimate Beefless Burger: This meat-free burger is made from soy and wheat gluten. You can grill as you see fit, and they taste fantastic.
- Beyond Sausage: Yes, we do have vegan sausages, and here is one of them. Made by Beyond Burger's manufacturers, the Beyond Sausage is made with vegetable fat (coconut oil) and a plant casing. It tastes just as good as the real thing.
- Field Roast Sausages: This is great for guests who have soy allergies. This vegan Italian variety tastes fantastic, and you don't have to worry about soy.
How To Make Meatless Meals Taste Meaty
The fact that vegans stopped consuming meat for health, animal right, and environmental reasons doesn't mean we don't like the taste of meat. It's okay to miss the taste of meat; they're fantastic anyway. This is why we will show you how to make certain vegan meals taste meaty.
It all starts with making vegan dishes out of meaty meals you stopped eating. When you think about it, it's not the meat itself that makes food delicious; it's the flavor, texture, and satisfaction it gives when you consume it that's important.
So, relax a little bit. There is no need to feel down when you crave meat. You can simply make amazing meatless dishes taste 'meaty' by following these tips:
- Use Meaty Plant-Foods: All meaty vegan recipes start with the same foods, including seitan, tofu, tempeh, etc. Seitan, especially, can be made to resemble steak, pork, or chicken, depending on how you cook it. Tofu can also be used to recreate chicken dishes.
- Use Fleshy Veggies: Tofu, tempeh, and seitan make fantastic inclusions in many meatless dishes. So also does vegetables. Mushrooms are one good example of texturized vegetables. So also are lentils, beans, and eggplants.
- Add Seasoning Blends: What makes meat taste so good: seasoning. If people can season meat, why can't vegans do the same to vegetables? In fact, you can use the exact same spices meant for meat on vegetables; and it would taste delicious. Keep in mind, there is no 'poultry' in 'poultry seasoning’—so, yeah, it's totally vegan.
- Make Vegan Broth: If 'chicken' and 'beef' broths are made from chicken and beef, respectively, then vegan broth is made from vegetables. To make a vegan broth, simply add poultry seasoning to the vegetable broth. You can then use your 'meaty' broths to make soups, sauces, and gravies.
Great Dinner Ideas For Meatless Meals
Grilled Squash Garlic Bread
3 small zucchini
2 summer squash
3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 bunch scallions
1 large ciabatta bread (10 in. by 7 in.)
1 large clove garlic
1/2 c. ricotta
- Cut up zucchini and summer splash.
- Brush them with 1 tsp olive oil. Next, season vegetables with salt and pepper. Afterwards, grill until tender and charred.
- Cut up ciabatta bread and grill 1 minute per side,
- Apply ricotta to each half of bread. Add toppings like zucchini and squash.
- Dribble with 1 tsp. olive oil
Flour, for the surface
1 lb. pizza dough, thawed if frozen
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey
2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
2 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 small eggplant (about 12 oz.), halved lengthwise
1 red pepper, quartered pepper, quartered
1 tbsp. capers, chopped
1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 c. part-skim ricotta
- Preheat oven to 425 °F. Bake pizza dough after it has been transferred to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes; remove dough from over and raise heat levels to 475 °F.
- In a large bowl, mix honey, vinegar, and one tablespoon of oil. Mix with tomatoes, red pepper, and eggplant. Grill until just tender. Move it to a cutting board and split it into large slices.
- Add vegetables to the vinegar mixture, and fold in the parsley. Apply ricotta to the crust and top with vegetables. Brush the crust with tablespoon oil and bake crust until golden brown.
How Is Meat Harmful To The Body?
According to Harvard Health, 'red and processed meats do increase health risks.' Like many others, the study shows a strong link between high consumption of red and processed meats and heart disease risk. In fact, people who reduce meat consumption have lower health risks.
Processed meat is the worst of the bunch. It contains very high amounts of chemicals and additives, which undoubtedly contribute to severe health risks. Experts advise that people stay away from processed meat.
That being said, red meat does provide high amounts of protein, which stimulates muscle growth in the body. It also provides essential nutrients that nourish the body. The trade-off is running the risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers in the future. As a result, experts suggest looking to other sources of food for the nutrients red meat offers. The same combination of nutrients can be obtained by following a plant-based diet.
Balancing Nutrient Deficiencies From Absence Of Meat
What about the nutrient deficiencies of not eating meat? As aforementioned, you don't need to eat meat to get your required intake of protein, calcium, iron, and other such nutrients. By simply adapting your vegan diet to any of the following: ovo, lacto, or ovo-lacto vegetarianism, you can get the essential nutrients that meat effortlessly provides.
By understanding what constitutes a healthy diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs to thrive and be healthy. According to the NHS, Vegans need to ensure they get enough calcium, iron, and vitamin B12. You can get enough iron by eating nuts, vegetables, and whole grains; calcium by eating almonds, vegetables, fruits, wholemeal; vitamin B12 through yeast extracts and soya products; and protein through beans, nuts, seeds, etc.
Meanwhile, some people, such as pregnant women and bodybuilders, are expected to take vitamin supplements.
Starting Your Meatless Monday Adventure
Ever heard of the Meatless Monday concept? It's a worldwide vegan effort to improve people's health and the health of the planet. This concept has millions of followers around the world and is backed by reputable health institutions.
According to relevant research, Mondays are the best time of the week to try out a new healthy routine—Meatless Monday is one of them.
This initiative can be of great value to you, as a person and as a vegan dedicated to improving the planet. By replacing meat with plant-based diet alternatives, you can improve heart and kidney health, decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, and maintain a healthy weight level. For the planet, Meatless Mondays can contain the production of greenhouse gases that negatively impact climate change.
You can literally change the world by swapping meat for vegan meat substitutes. What are you waiting for?
Choosing a healthy plant-based and vegan diet is most beneficial when it comes to:
Higher levels of energy;
Aids in energy and overall happiness;
Provides a sense of comfort and relief;
Could prevent major diseases such as obesity and diabetes;
Accomplish weight-loss and management; and
Improves mental and cognitive functioning.
There are really no excuses not to try healthier habits in your everyday life. If you are a man or woman looking for specific benefits of adopting healthier habits or just want to know about the general healing properties of herbs. Please remember to comment or post any health questions, or contact us directly!
Harvard Men's Health Watch. (2020, February). What's the Beef with Red Meat?
N.d. (N.d.). Research About Meatless Monday.
NHS. (2018, August 2). Vegetarian and Vegan Diets Q&A.