This topic is really close to my heart. I am a meat eater, but I have often thought about giving up meat. I used to think it wasn’t really doable for me because meat is a huge part of my diet and something that I would miss too much. After trying a lot of the substitutes out there I am starting to think it is possible to be meat free without missing out too much on the dishes I love.
That brings me onto my second point. I hear a lot of people ask why vegetarians and vegans would want to eat a meat substitute? I thought this was a really silly question that doesn’t really need answering, but I was obviously wrong.
Those who choose to not eat meat do not usually do it because they dislike the taste. They become meat free because they don’t believe in animals being slaughtered for food or maybe for health reasons. So, it should be plain to see that they still enjoy the taste and most likely miss meat in their diets, hence why substitutes are a thing. For many fitness fans, replacing protein is also a big factor. While whey powder can help, not everyone enjoys those drinks or smoothies. Whether you work out in a home gym, or prefer to get your heart beating on an exercise bike, a balanced diet is an important factor.
Below you will find out about 4 popular meat substitutes, try them out for yourself and see which ones work best for you!
Tofu aka beancurd is one of the more popular substitutes out there. It is made from Soybeans, which makes it a great source of protein and calcium. Finding other sources of protein is hard when going meat free, so it definitely ticks that box.
Tofu is nothing new, it dates back thousands of years and first originated in China before spreading across Asia. One of the main criticisms I hear is that it is too soft to be a good substitute, but I disagree. Firm and Extra firm tofu can be purchased and it can be pressed and frozen to give it a more meat like texture.
Another plus for tofu is just how well it absorbs flavour, so if you find it quite bland just make sure to season it really well with different herbs and spices to get the most out of it.
Tempeh, like tofu is a soy product, but it is made in an entirely different process, which sees the end result a much firmer and more grainy substitute, which instantly makes it more meat like.
It is also a better source of protein, fibre and other nutrients than tofu due to how it is made. Being firmer, means it is much simpler to use as it requires no pressing at all. You simply slice it up or even blitz it in a food processor.
Some describe it to have somewhat of a nutty flavour. If I’m honest I had a different experience and thought it to be quite bitter on its own, so I would suggest mixing it up with other flavours to make it more appealing.
Overall Tempeh is highly nutritious, very versatile and easy to use. Definitely would recommend it for anyone trying to go meat free.
Seitan, pronounced SAYTAN is perhaps the most meat like in terms of texture of all the meat substitutes. The one drawback for some is that it is cereal (gluten) based, but if gluten is not a problem then you definitely need to incorporate this into your diet.
It is a very dense product and has a chewy texture, which means it can hold up to frying and grilling really well.
Seitan absorbs flavour very well, so can easily substitute meat in many of your favourite recipes.
Another bonus point for seitan is that it is the basis of many commercially bought vegan meals, so if you are not really one for cooking yet then it can very easily be store bought for ease and convenience.
Textured vegetable protein or TVP is another meat substitute that is widely used among vegetarians and vegans alike. Essentially TVP is a defatted soy flour product, well known for its high protein content – up to 12 grams per serving.
It has a very chewy and meat like texture making it perfect for those of you who are really missing your meat. TVP has a natural bean type flavour, which is very mild. They require rehydrating before use, which is also a great time to pack in some extra flavour.
Although TVP is fairly low in calories it should be said that it is very often packed full off artificial flavouring and added preservatives meaning that you should consume this product in moderation.
If you have been thinking of giving life a go meat free then there has never been a better time to try. The internet is full of recipes you can try at home and more on more specialist stores are appearing online. The substitutes in this guide is not an exhaustive list, but it will certainly make a great starting point for anyone looking to cut meat out of their lives.
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