A growing number of people are switching to plant-based diets like vegetarian and vegan diets. This is because eating more plant-based food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds is beneficial for health. Vegans and vegetarians have a lower risk of suffering from stroke, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular diseases. However, one of the main issues of people switching from a meat-based diet to a vegan diet is finding good meat substitutes. Read on to know more about some of the best meat substitutes.
Choosing A Plant-Based Meat Substitute
Before choosing a meat substitute in your plant-based diet, you must consider its dietary function. Listed below are some of their functions:
- Plant-based food as a protein source.
- Food fortified with nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, and calcium. Remember that plant-based foods are typically low in these nutrients.
- Plant-based food that resembles meat in its texture.
Some people do not want to include plant-based food that contains gluten or soy in their diet. So, they should look for vegan or vegetarian food products that are gluten-free and soy-free. The best way to ensure this is to read the list of ingredients on the label.
Tofu is one of the most widely used meat substitutes in plant-based recipes; it is a staple in Asian cuisines. It is a soy product that has a bland taste, and because of this, it absorbs the flavors of other ingredients used in a dish. It is made by coagulating soy milk. The curd is then pressed into blocks to remove their moisture, and this product is called tofu.
There are three types of tofu depending on their moisture content. Soft or silken tofu is made by coagulating but not curdling the soy milk. It is ideal for making desserts and smoothies. Medium tofu is the most common type used in recipes. Hard tofu is a good meat substitute when cooked because of its firm texture.
Listed below is the nutritional profile of 4 ounces of tofu:
- Calories: 60
- Carbs: 3g
- Fat: 2g
- Protein: 11g
- Fiber: 4g
- Vitamin B12:4 mcg
- Iron: 2mg
- Calcium: 200mg
Tofu can be prepared in different ways. Medium and hard tofu can be cut into cubes and stir-fried. The former can be crumbled and used as a substitute for cheese or eggs.
Tempeh is another soy product made using fermented soybeans. It is available in the form of cakes and is a popular meat substitute in plant-based recipes because of its texture when cooked. For instance, crumbled and cooked tempeh is like minced meat. Also, remember that it is usually made by combining fermented soybeans with grains like barley.
Listed below is the nutritional profile of half cup of tempeh:
- Calories: 160
- Carbs: 3g
- Fat: 9g
- Protein: 17g
- Iron: 2mg
- Calcium: 92mg
Tempeh has a firm texture along with a strong flavor. It is ideal for stir-frying, and it can be added to Thai salad.
Seitan is wheat gluten, i.e., the protein in wheat, and it is an excellent meat substitute. It is made by mixing water with wheat flour to make the sticky dough. Then, it is washed with water to remove the starch to get pure gluten. This is called seitan, and it has a dense and chewy texture with a slight flavor of its own.
Listed below is the nutritional profile of 91 grams of seitan:
- Calories: 108
- Carbs: 8g
- Protein: 20g
- Fiber: 2g
- Iron: 8mg
Because of its gluten content, seitan is unsuitable for those on a gluten-free diet. It is an excellent substitute for beef and chicken in plant-based recipes. Also, if you flavor seitan properly, it can mimic the taste of any meat. When preparing vegan or vegetarian dishes, it is flavored with marinades or soy sauce.
Jackfruit is a fruit that is used in many southeast Asian cuisines. It can be used in raw or ripe forms. It is an excellent meat substitute due to the texture of the flesh when cooked. For instance, it is used as a vegan substitute in BBQ recipes like pulled pork. Furthermore, jackfruits are becoming increasingly popular in the west, especially among vegans.
Listed below is the nutritional profile of 154 grams of raw jackfruit:
- Calories: 155
- Carbs: 40g
- Fiber: 6g
- Iron: 1mg
- Calcium: 56mg
Apart from being used as a meat substitute, ripe jackfruit is a delicious fruit that can be used for making desserts.
We hope that the details shared above about the plant-based meat substitutes were useful to you. Keep in mind that beans and legumes are also good meat substitutes because they are excellent sources of protein.