5 Ways to Substitute for Meat
Society is trending towards healthier lifestyles, and with that more people are looking for tasty and convenient ways to incorporate vegetables into their diets.
As a former diehard carnivore, I understand the appeal of a nice big slab of AAA Top Sirloin cooked medium rare and eaten fresh off of the barbecue. However, I can also vouch for the physiological benefits of cutting down on meat consumption. Maybe not entirely, but substantially.
We now live in an age where people are becoming more aware of their eating habits and more mindful of exactly what they are putting in their bodies. This recent incline in Health & Wellness efforts has also created a large group of experimental vegetarians and vegans who wish to get a taste for the meatless world.
Here is a collection of my favorite meat substitutes.
#1 Pulled Pork or Shredded Meat: Jackfruit
Jackfruit, a close relative to figs, is an incredible meat substitute. Since the sweet fruity taste is quite subtle, Jackfruit can pair well with many ingredients. The texture and consistency is very similar to that of pulled pork or other shredded meats, making it a perfect burger protein. You can buy the entire fruit and prepare it yourself, or buy the canned version for easy access. Don't be afraid to try a bunch of different flavor profiles while making your jackfruit dishes, and see what you like best!
#2 Bacon and Smoked Meats: Tempeh
Tempeh is a soybean based product that is similar to Tofu. However, tofu is made from coagulated soy milk pressed into blocks. Tempeh however, is made by fermenting the soybeans, adding other grains and legumes, and forming them into a dense cake. As a result, Tempeh has a much deeper and heartier flavor which makes it a great meat substitute for a variety of dishes. Cook it as you would a piece of meat — on the grill, sautéed, baked. However you may please. You can even crumble it as you would ground beef or other meats, and incorporate into your meal that way.
#3 Pastas, Soups, and Other Fillings: Lentils
Lentils have been and always will be a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets alike. Incredibly high in protein, healthy carbs and fiber, lentils are also super versatile and can be incorporated into many dishes. One of my all-time favorites is a meatless Bolognese with sautéed lentils and mushroom as the meatless filling. Just to ice the cake, lentils come in a variety of different colors for all of you artsy cooks and “foodographers” looking to frame up an eye catching plate.
#4 For Extra Protein: Chickpeas
Chickpeas are the jack of all trades in terms of meat substitutes. What can’t they do? Also known as a Garbanzo Bean, these little babies are packed with 12 grams of protein per cup, and over 15g of dietary fiber. Chickpeas can be purchased dried or canned (canned will save you cooking time). Use them to make tasty falafel, hummus, hearty soups, or bake and add them as a crispy element to your dish. Chickpeas are an incredible way to pack the protein into a variety of meals.
#5 For Salads & Savories: Beets
One of my all time favorite vegetables, beets are nature’s candy. Sweet and delicious, perfect for adding another level to your salad game. They also have another side to them — when roasted, beets take on an added earthy flavor that creates another great element for savory dishes. These low calorie veggies are packed with vitamins and nutrients, and possess an array of other important health benefits.
I hope these suggestions can provide some inspirations for healthy and delicious diet substitutions!