Don’t panic! As someone who adheres to a plant-based diet, I am often asked how I manage to cook a meal without meat. Trust me, you don’t have to give up tasting your favorite savory BBQ sauce or the deep-fried crispy chicken taste. Below you will find a guide to meat-substitutes that can be easily found in your grocer’s frozen food department. While most meat substitutes are cholesterol and sometimes fat-free, depending on how they are prepared, they may be highly processed. Don’t fret, they are fine in moderation.
1. Tofu: Tofu is probably the most popular of the meat substitutes. Tofu can be purchased in silken form as well as normal form. Silken tofu is often used to make sauces or shakes. Tofu in its more popular form comes in soft, medium, firm and extra firm. The more firm the tofu, the better it is for deep frying and making ‘mock’ chicken recipes. The website, Savvy Vegetarian offers an excellent guide on how to prepare tofu. In America, there are several brands of tofu that are usually available in the supermarket: Eden Foods, Rhapsody Natural Foods, and Unisoya are just a few.
2. Seitan: Vegan fried chicken, BBQ ribs, and other popular meat products turned vegan are often made with seitan. Seitan is a vegan meat substitute derived from cooking wheat gluten, the protein component in wheat which has been separated from the grain. When prepared properly, seitan can take on the texture of some of your favorite meat products. While seitan can be made from home, feel free to purchase it in your local health food store. Click here for a “Southern Fried Chicken” Recipe made from Seitan!
3. Tempeh: Like tofu, tempeh is made from a soybean. However, it uses the entire soybean, and a fermentation process causes the tempeh to maintain a higher and more easily digestible protein content than tofu. It contains no cholesterol and usually absorbs seasonings very well. Tempeh can be used as a meat substitute in many recipes! My favorite is the “vegan fried boneless chicken” recipe. Lightlife is the most popular brand of tempeh. You can purchase it at your local grocery or healthy food store.
Popular Brands & Products (All imitation- no animals were hurt while compiling this list):
Lightlife: Frozen entrées, sausages, Smart Deli sandwich “meat” (imitation bologna, ham, & turkey), Chik’n Tenders and “bacon”. Click here for a full list of Lightlife products.
Morning Star Farms: Breakfast patties made with soy, sausage links, Soy burgers, black bean burgers, pizza burgers, veggie wings and veggie nuggets, BBQ riblets, meal starters, Chik’n strips, and veggie dogs. More more products and information visit Morning Star Farms website.
Tofurky: Deli slices, Hot dogs, ground tofurky, whole tofurky (for holidays), pizza, sausages, and more. Check out the full list here.