September 24, 2021
What are meat alternatives?
The term meat alternative describes any food or dish that provides the same satisfaction and texture as something made with animal flesh.
Many products on supermarket shelves can be considered “meat alternatives.” The most common types are soy-based, wheat gluten-based (seitan), Quorn, which uses mycoprotein, legumes like beans and lentils for hummus dips or tacos, tofu from curdled soya milk etc., tempeh – a fermented version, mushroom substitutes, etc.
Meat alternatives have grown in popularity due to a desire from those who want to decrease their consumption of animal products. But what is plant-based meat made of? And how does it look, taste, and act like the real thing?
What does plant-based meat look like?
Plant-based meat substitutes are designed to replace the real meat in your favorite meals. At your local supermarket, you’re likely to find:
- Plant-based sausages (Vegan Salami)
- Plant-based chicken
- Plant-based burger patties
- Plant-based duck
- Plant-based mince, or ground beef
- Plant-based pork
- Plant-based fish and seafood
The growth in popularity of organic food has been rapidly rising – from the supermarket shelves, and restaurants range from fine dining to pub bistros. The increase in vegan meat alternatives and the addition of such foods to fast-food menus means that more people are eating these goods.
It seems meatless burgers are the future of America’s diet. But what ingredients do we consume when eating that plant-based patty?
What’s in plant-based meat?
Plant-based meat is constantly innovating for a product that tastes, looks, and feels like real meat.
Meat is composed of three essential components: protein, fat, and water. Different brands of plant-based meat use other ingredients. One of the many templates that a lot of products are made with is similar to this one.
Various vegan proteins exist. These include:
- Rice proteins
- Pea and mung bean.
- Soy protein
- Mycoprotein (a product derived from fungi)
- Potato protein
To mimic the texture of real meat, fat is added to bind the food and offer an authentic ‘meaty’ flavour. There are many meat alternatives available for those trying to limit animal fat intake, and these substitutes typically include:
- Coconut oil
- Cocoa butter
- Vegetable oils such as canola oil and sunflower
Beetroot is a prevalent ingredient in plant-based products, such as burgers, due to its taste. In addition, red beet juice helps the burger or meat to retain its colour with a similar “bleeding” effect that is common with red meats. Pretty impressive, huh?
How is plant-based meat made?
A variety of techniques are used in manufacturing, typically including intense heating and cooling phases. This upends the protein makeup of this food, as well as adding to its convincingly meat-like texture.
How are meat alternatives cooked?
We will discuss how to prepare meat alternatives (such as tofu) in a variety of ways. The way that these products cook changes depending on a variety of factors, including what they’re made out of and how long you intend to store them in your refrigerator.
Most plant-based meats will cook, smell or taste just like their animal-based counterparts. – Switching to this product is easy and convenient.
To replicate the flavours of meat in a dish, try using meat-alternative products. Alternatively, try cooking a couple of plant-based prawns on the BBQ – you might be surprised by how tasty they are. Having a meat-filled diet can be limiting for your diet. Pushing some vegetables and meats aside for one day or two is an excellent way to introduce variety to your recipes.
The big question: does it taste like meat?
We believe that plant-based options are tasty – but opinions are split over whether they taste like real meat or not. Many customers say that the texture of meat-like products is on point, but sometimes they are disappointed by how the taste differs from regular beef.
The best way to find out which type of food you like is to try cooking some yourself. You will then be able to figure out the most common brands and products that you prefer. It’s not always possible to explore your creativity cooking plant-based dishes, but there are plenty of dishes you can substitute the meat for.
So, for example, you could use plant-based mince in a vegetarian spaghetti Bolognese recipe. You will be surprised at some of the meat substitutes you can use in dishes that everyone (or your guests) will love!
Remember: Plant-based meat can be fun and add variety to your dishes, but many other plant-based protein options are available. They include legumes, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, and tofu.
If you consider adding more vegan foods to your diet, this blog will introduce you to several plant-based types of meat and vegan products.
The 10 Best Meat Alternatives for Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes
Eliminating meat from your family’s diet and replacing it with plant-based proteins as the star of weeknight dinners and high protein, low-calorie snacks will improve your overall health. The most healthful meat substitutes are usually hearty vegetables or legumes themselves. Still, products made from soy, wheat, gluten, nuts, vegetables, legumes, or a combination of them all can also be used.
If you’re new to meat substitutes or faux meats, be aware that they all vary in how closely they resemble meat – whichever type of substitute is your preference. While meat substitutes are made to resemble burgers, nuggets, and sausages to mimic the meats we love, they often have a subpar flavour profile. Additionally, not all meat alternatives are automatically vegan; some will have traces of eggs or other dairies, so they should be avoided on a vegan diet.
One danger of some meatless dishes is that they may contain high levels of toxins and chemicals.
With this in mind, try stepping out of your comfort zone and adding one of these meat substitutes to your usual rotation.
The fruit that bears this name is a close relative of figs, and although it has a consistency similar to shredded meat, it is best eaten as an ice cream topping. Buy your fruit canned or in refrigerated pouches to avoid having to clean it. Because its flavour is very gentle, it goes with any vegetables or sauces that you’re cooking it with. From pulled pork sandwiches to chilli and nachos wrapped with jackfruit, there are plenty of creative ways to jazz up vegan meals.
Tofu is the most common meat substitute available. It can be found in two forms: extra-firm and soft form. This versatile meat can be paired with any sauce, grain, and vegetable, and it is delicious when cooked in various ways. Tofu can make a great healthy addition to ethnic dishes like pad Thai or tacos. Tofu is high in water, and common practice when cooking tofu is to press it. To make super crispy tofu, first, blot it off of any moisture.
Although it’s soy-based, tempeh is made by fermenting the beans longer than tofu, and many grains and beans are combined for a hearty texture and flavour. Preparing meat the way most people know, grilling it, is only one of many ways to do so. One may fry it, bake it or sauté it as well.
The flavour of tempeh is more divisive than that of tofu–it has a subtle sourness from the fermentation, a more rigid texture, and it leaves you with a nutty aftertaste. If you are adventurous, try out the lettuce wraps or grain bowls.
As a staple of vegetarian diets, lentils come in many different colours, including green, black, red, and yellow. You’ll typically find them in the produce section, but if your grocery store has an aisle with bulk items, they might also be there. For Sassos, lentils are a weekly staple. They love to make a meatless Bolognese with lentils and diced sautéed mushrooms—they give the dish a similar consistency and deep flavour as if it were made with meat. “Lentils should be rinsed and boiled until they have absorbed enough water to become tender but not mushy.” From there, you can put them in curries, stews, stir-fries, salads and meatless patties.
Wheat protein, called seitan, is created by coking wheat gluten until it becomes dense white-flesh meat that closely resembles the consistency of pork or chicken. You can buy it in strips or ground, and it’s best prepared in stir-fries, salads and curries. The seitan also tastes great on the grill and can be ready for dinner in no time. When cooked properly, the earthy flavour of roasted chanterelle mushrooms is very similar to chicken and can function as an excellent substitute. Keep in mind this is not a great meat substitute if you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy.
Canned Black Beans
Even if you buy canned beans or a can of black beans, they are still high in protein and offer a satisfying meal. If you prefer to buy canned beans, you can drain the liquid from the canning jar and use it in other recipes. You can also simmer the beans in their liquid for a more decadent dish with built-in sauce. Black beans are delicious in tacos, burritos, and veggie burgers. You can also try blending them up for a dip or as the main ingredient in black bean hummus.
When you make them from scratch or buy frozen pre-made ones, veggie burgers can be the perfect meatless dinner. A quick homemade burger formula: Toss together any mix of veggies, beans, and grains with an egg (or vegan substitute) and flour or bread crumbs for a patty that can be grilled or pan-fried. Add smoked paprika or liquid smoke to enhance the savoury flavour of a vegetarian dish.
Sasso’s usual purchase is Hilary’s Veggie Burgers, free of gluten, soy, and peanuts. When considering a new kind of veggie burger, make sure it includes whole foods on the ingredients list and that the first ingredient is either a vegetable or bean. Avoid meat substitutes containing ‘soy protein concentrate’ or ‘soy protein isolate,'” she advises.
Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans
What can’t a chickpea do? All you need to keep in your pantry are dry or canned chickpeas. Although canned versions of your favourite soups are convenient for a busy day, homemade food can be even more exciting. This protein-rich legume is excellent as a meatless dish. Whether eaten in or out of the shell, this simple bean has various flavours that can be used in any dish.
This store-bought meat alternative is typically made up of a combination of beans, grains, vegetables, and spices – it’s a convenient meal option when you’re short on time. Serve them over a bed of your favourite grain, in soups, or wrapped in a bun and topped with sauerkraut. One of the best parts about Beyond Sausage is that it’s made with pea protein and has less sodium per serving than other leading brands. When purchasing pre-made products such as sausage, consider scanning the labels for hidden nutritional bombs such as saturated fat count and added sodium.
Who doesn’t love a good nugget? Chicken has proliferated the freezer section of supermarkets and even launched online – but we’re not satisfied with The Alpha Nugget for its reduced fat and sodium counts. Look for chickens’ substitutes made from wholesome ingredients like soybean oil and wheat protein. You can use this faux chicken in things like salads, wraps, or even hot sandwich patties throughout the workweek.
Why go for meat alternatives?
Meat alternatives are a great way to get the taste and texture of meat without pesky hormones, antibiotics, or cholesterol.
Why go for meat substitutes? Meat substitutes offer you that same mouth-watering flavour with none of the side effects like high levels of fat content in processed meats or excess sodium from cured products.
The benefits of eating meat alternatives
Below are nine surprising benefits of consuming a vegan diet with meat alternatives.
1. Conserve the Environment
Resources such as water and space are often taken for granted; Overpopulation is a problem that has arisen in recent years because of the increase in the human population. Plants use a lot less water to grow than animals do, and they can be grown in a smaller area. With all the water shortages, conservation is vital and shifting to plant-based foods might help.
2. Reduce Animal Suffering
Giving up animal products will no longer make you a party to the suffering of innocent animals. You’ll also be helping the economy shift away from a reliance on meat so that more animals will live with reduced suffering.
3. Sleep Better
Eating a plant-based diet has both moral and environmental benefits, with many health benefits to boot. An attractive advantage of a high-quality plant-based diet is that you will be able to sleep better at night, at least according to some reports.
4. Avoid constipation
A plant-based diet may help relieve constipation.
5. Lose Weight
Weight loss is inevitable when you consume more plant-based food than animal products. You can reduce up to five pounds in just two weeks if you follow a vegan diet without going hungry.
6. Avoid Chronic Illnesses
Decreasing saturated fats and increasing fiber, vitamin, and protein intake can help people avoid diseases such as cancer, heart attack or diabetes. Outside of giving up smoking and drinking alcohol, a vegan diet is the best way to prevent cancer.
7. Lower Blood Sugar
Foods high in fiber, like fruits and vegetables, can help you fight high blood sugar. This natural component helps balance cortisol levels, which relieves stress and diminishes feelings of hunger throughout the day. Some studies have shown that meat can raise blood sugar.
8. Lower Cholesterol
Vegetarians who follow a plant-based diet have lower cholesterol levels than those who eat meat and other animal products.
9. Increase Potassium in the Body
Potassium aids lower blood pressure and cholesterol, but meat has no potassium. On the other hand, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds contain high levels of potassium.
It’s often said that people who choose vegetarian or vegan diets are doing so to help the planet and respect animals. That’s true, but there are plenty of benefits for human health as well. According to science, vegans no longer have to cope with weird-tasting soy patties as a meat alternative.
There are several ways one can incorporate more plant-based proteins into your diet. One way is to use meat alternatives such as tofu, seitan and tempeh in dishes that traditionally include meats like tacos or lasagna. When it comes to processing foods with soy protein isolate (SPI) and if the food product has not been processed at all, SPI is listed on the ingredients list and does not need to be included when calculating total grams of dietary fiber per serving size for labelling purposes. If the food has been over-processed with SPI, then this must be accounted for when determining how many daily servings are needed from each type of macronutrient group.
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