For those new to a vegan or vegetarian diet, a usual challenge is meat cravings. But, you don’t have to succumb to your yearning and temptations. There are numerous plant-based foods that can provide the meaty texture and flavor of animal products. To give you a better idea, here are the best vegan meat alternatives you can eat.
Soy is one of the most popular vegan meat alternatives. This is not surprising because this plant-based product has the same amino acid content as steaks – without the additional fats and cholesterol. Aside from that, this legume is loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other healthful substances.
Tofu is the most common meat substitute made of soybeans. Initially, this sponge-like food has a bland taste. However, because of tofu’s ability to absorb the flavor of other ingredients, this soybean product becomes appetizing with the addition of oils, vinegars, sauces, and spices.
If you’re not a big fan of tofu, you can also try tempeh. Unlike tofu, this fermented soy food has a firm texture and a nutty flavor. Other healthful soybean products you can eat are edamame and natto.
Aside from soy foods, you can also use mushrooms to replace animal meat ingredients. Basically, these fleshy and tender foods offer a rich umami flavor that can contend with meat products. In fact, you can chop portabello mushrooms and use it to make veggie burgers. Portabello steak is another recipe you will certainly like.
The best part is that mushrooms are low in calories. Aside from that, this savory product is the best food source of vitamin D for vegans.
3. Unripe Jackfruit
Some of you are probably wondering why a tropical fruit is included in this list of vegan meat alternatives. But, you can certainly use this exotic food to create savory dishes.
Like tofu, unripe jackfruit can also absorb the flavor of other ingredients. This immature fruit also has a tender texture that resembles shredded chicken or pulled pork. You can bake this plant-based product for about 15 minutes to make it chewier.
Aside from providing a meat-like texture, jackfruit is also rich in fiber. As such, this tropical food can help promote a healthy heart and digestive system. However, keep in mind that jackfruit is low in protein, so you need to add other protein-rich foods in your meals, such as whole grains and seeds.
If you’re searching for a product that can meet your protein requirements, quinoa is an excellent choice. In fact, you can get about 9 grams of proteins in a cup of this seed. But, that’s not all. Quinoa is also rich in fiber, manganese, magnesium, and iron.
This nutritious seed is not only a breakfast ingredient; you can try using quinoa and beans instead of ground beef for your taco recipes. To enhance its flavor, you can also add this healthful product to your salad, soup, and veggie burger.
Like all legumes, lentils are excellent vegan meat alternatives due to various reasons. As you know, these products are among the best plant sources of proteins, fiber, and other essential nutrients – which you can get for a very affordable price. Aside from that, lentils are versatile ingredients. You can use this healthful food as a replacement for ground beef in your recipes.
As mentioned, all legumes are great substitutes for meat because of their high protein contents, so you can also include beans and peas in your diet.
Eggplant is another versatile vegetable you can use as a meat substitute. Like tofu and jackfruit, this delicious veggie can also absorb flavor. Thus, it can quickly get a meaty and savory taste when included in recipes like meatless lasagnas.
Moreover, an eggplant can provide various essential nutrients such as fiber, potassium, and vitamin B. But, this nightshade vegetable is low in protein.
7. Raw Nuts
The last in this list of best vegan meat alternatives is raw nuts. Aside, from being protein-rich foods, these plant-based products are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acid – the healthy type of fats that your body needs.
Always remember that nuts are not just afternoon snacks or salad toppings. You can also use these healthful foods to replace animal products. Some good recipes you can try are nut loafs and burgers. You can also use them to make your own nut milks.
When items such as tofu, legumes, and nuts are cents on the dollar, it’s not only a healthy option to go vegan, but a cost-effective option as well.