Today I present you a list of the best meat alternatives + my favorite vegan recipes which taste like the real deal, or even better! I’m sure these delicious, satisfying meals will satisfy your cravings without missing the meat at all! This post is a helpful food guide to vegan meats and meat substitutes that may help you go vegan!
What do vegans eat instead of meat?
Vegan products offer many health benefits and are significantly more sustainable than meat! But going vegan doesn’t mean you have to miss the dishes you love most. Pretty much anything you used to eat can be made with plant-based ingredients – even meaty dishes like burgers, meatballs, chicken nuggets, and Buffalo wings! It just takes a bit of creativity, and the benefit of some tips to help you create delicious vegan versions of the traditional recipes.
Especially, if you’re new with vegan cooking, you may wonder which meat alternatives you could eat. While supermarkets offer a wide range of meat substitutes nowadays, not all of them are made with just natural ingredients. They are mainly made of soy, legumes, vegetables, grains, but also often contain other usual ingredients, such as a binder, starch, flavors, etc. Depending on your allergies and personal diet, you may need to avoid some ingredients so this vegan food list may be helpful to get an overview, finding out what is best for you!
Here on my blog, you will find many delicious, satisfying meals that will definitely satisfy your cravings! Furthermore, I’m very sure you won’t even miss the meat at all, vegans and non-vegans alike! So I not only present you the best meat substitutes here, but I also link to my favorite vegan recipes that you could try! I hope you’ll find this little food guide to healthy vegan meats helpful so let’s start!
Guide: Healthy Vegan Meat Alternatives
Store-bought meat-free minced meat alternatives
There are many commercial minced meat alternatives available in local supermarkets or organic grocery stores. Most of them are soy-based alternatives which you can either find packaged (dried granules to soak in water) or as ready-made products in the freezer section. Soya chunks and mince are very inexpensive ingredients that are easy to prepare. However, you’ll also find meat alternatives made of green spelt, oat flakes, pea or lupin protein, seitan or wheat protein, and even more. Feel free to head over my recipe for Vegan Crunchwrap Supreme that is made with a soy mince alternative.
Nut Blends (soy-free & gluten-free)
If you’re avoiding soy, a nut mince is one of the best whole-food meat alternatives! I also used a nut mix in this one-pot Mexican taco pasta as it is so tasty and I really love it! The one I used is made of 100% sunflower seeds but you can also try another flavor combination that you like. I personally find the seeds taste amazing in raw mixes but feel free to use whatever you prefer. Also, they have long durability – you can store a whole bunch of it, so you always have some on hand.
Tofu and Tempeh
Crumbled tofu or tempeh gives a great minced meat-like texture! It also easily absorbs easily aromas from spices, marinades, and sauces so it’s very versatile. Just make sure to use firm tofu (not silken) and press out any excess liquid before using it. While tempeh has a stronger flavor than tofu, it is also firmer in texture. Anyway, feel free to experiment, finding out what you like best! For detailed instructions on how to cook tofu to use as minced meat substitute head over to my vegan bolognese recipe. Or check out my vegan pad thai, Thai peanut ramen soup or general Tso’s tofu to use tofu instead of chicken chunks!
Especially yellow or red lentils are great as they breakdown while they cook. I really love to use them for lentil bolognese, Indian dal, or vegan lasagna but they’re also great to make vegan lentil meatballs. However, also other lentils like green, black, or brown lentils are good as they keep their shape and stay tender. I used them here in my mushroom and lentil ragu and in this black lentil curry.
Beans and chickpeas
Besides lentils, also beans and chickpeas are high in plant-based protein and make one of the best vegan meat alternatives. While black beans are quite small, kidney beans or chickpeas are bigger but can also add a bit more texture. However, you can also break them down with a fork or potato masher for a crumblier texture. Or use a food processor for a finer texture as I did in my spaghetti with vegan meatballs or chickpea no-meat balls recipe. You can also try my Mexican tortilla casserole, sweet potato chickpea curry, or one of my other yummy chickpea recipes!
Mushrooms as a meat substitute
Mushrooms are amazing! So they need an extra category in this food guide because I use them for so many vegan recipes! When you want that meaty taste with umami flavor, mushrooms are really the way! Their flavor is savory, earthy, and meaty, especially brown button cremini or Portobello mushrooms are amazing! They are not only healthy and filling but can replace meat in any recipe! My favorite way to eat mushrooms is to cook them in oil with garlic, then marinate with soy or Tamari sauce for the best flavor! Also adding thyme, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar is great. Then I serve them over pasta, ravioli, avocado toast, pizza, polenta, risotto, or any other dishes as they’re always suitable!
Jackfruit as a meat alternative
If you have not yet tried jackfruit, you need to do so! While jackfruit is actually a fruit, it can be amazingly delicious and stand-in for meat in savory dishes. You can find it raw, but I always buy it canned in salted water. Please try my BBQ jackfruit pulled pork on Burger or Tortillas – you’ll love this healthy meat alternative!
Here are other foods that can substitute for meat include eggplant, cauliflower, potatoes, or coconut.
- Eggplant: While eggplant has a rich, meaty taste, and it is also very versatile to use. If you are not a fan of eggplant yet, you should definitely try these Chinese eggplants with chili garlic sauce.
- Cauliflower: Also, cauliflower is amazing and can be used for meat. You can try my cauliflower tikka masala or cauliflower coconut korma if you’re not convinced yet.
- Potatoes: are also satisfying and versatile. You can boil them, mash them, or grate them and then turn them into fillings for vegan ravioli pockets, vegan quesadillas, aloo paratha, or more dishes.
- Coconut: Did you already try my vegan carbonara with coconut bacon? Honestly, it’s so delicious and tastes even better than real bacon. I promise you won’t even taste the coconut so please try this recipe, too!
I hope you find this little food guide to the best vegan meat alternatives helpful! If you try one of my recipes, be sure to leave a comment and rating letting me know how it turns out! Your feedback is always super helpful for me and other readers. And if you take a photo of your savory dish please tag me on Instagram @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka because I love seeing your remakes! Happy cooking! 🙂
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