The holidays can be a tough time for any diet, but especially for vegans! Somehow, turkey, roast beef, and ham have become synonymous with the winter, festive season. Luckily, times are changing and we have more meat substitutes available than ever before. You don’t have to wait for January or Veganuary however! Struggling to find the perfect substitute for your holiday dish? Then get ready for VEGANUARY: Top 10 Substitutes for Your Usual Go-To Meat Dishes!
Arguably the king of meat alternatives, tofu is a great staple for any vegetarian/vegan menu. Often prepared in Asian dishes, tofu is made from a derivative of soy protein. The best part? It’s available in different textures, like silken, regular, firm and extra firm. If you are trying to mimic a meat such as chicken strips or ground beef, we recommend extra firm. Try it next time in your stir fry!
A close relative of tofu, tempeh is also derived from soy, but made from fermenting the soy. Therefore it results in a much denser texture that helps duplicate staples such as BBQ or bacon!
Lentils have long been a mainstay of vegetarian cultures, due to their immense protein content (9 grams protein / 100 grams lentils). While their texture may not remind you of meat right away, with the right preparation, they can be used to mimic burgers!
In fact, lentils are often one of the key ingredients in today’s favorite faux burgers. In addition, they can be used to make “meat”-loaf or even in soups as a replacement for ground beef.
4. Chickpeas / Garbanzo Beans
My Indian Mother-in-law has made me very familiar with a favorite protein source of their culture, “chana”, or what we know to be chickpeas! While chickpeas can be prepared in the traditional Indian style as chana masala, they can also replace meat in many creative ways. When sautéed and reduced lightly, they prove an excellent vegan, ground beef substitute for recipes such as meat sauce or taco meat!
5. Black Beans
Black beans are another favorite for veggie patty producers, probably because of their ability to take on whatever form you give them, not to mention their high protein content. Back beans are also an excellent contender for meatless meatballs!
The favorite meat alternative in my household? The almighty mushroom! The shrooms’ versatility is what makes them such a great ingredient to have in the vegan diet. I personally love to use them as filling for lettuce wraps, stuffed peppers, or as a replacement for meat in soup. Portobello mushrooms can serve as an especially scrumptious alternative to burgers!
The new trend on the block, jackfruit has become a popular alternative to chicken and pork. Though the preparation can be somewhat taxing (the jackfruit needs to be baked and extra dry before using), the results are quite convincing. Try it next time you have a hankering for a pulled BBQ sandwich!
Another trendsetter, that’s sure to continue to be big this veganuary is cauliflower which has gained great popularity in recent years, mostly as a carb-free substitute. But wait, there’s more! Cauliflower has proven to be a great meat alternative as well. Used best when trying to replicate fried chicken or Asian dishes, cauliflower can be lightly breaded and baked to a crisp, creating the texture you’re craving!
Though it may seem the furthest thing from meat, cabbage steaks can actually serve as a wonderful alternative for that dish you probably find yourself yearning for from time to time: steak! Thickly sliced, doused in your usual grilling marinade, and roasted until tender and caramelized inside, cabbage steaks are surprisingly satisfying. So, as you can see, grilling and barbecuing veggies is definitely possible with cabbages.
As a New Yorker, I couldn’t forget my city’s favorite: falafel! On nearly every corner of the city you can smell the fragrant spices of the Halal cart, grilling up all kinds of lamb, chicken, fish…Luckily, they specialize in one of the yummiest meat substitutes of all, falafel.
Consisting mostly of chickpea flour, falafel are delicate chewy balls, grilled to a crisp and served usually on a pitta bread pouch or plate of rice and salad. They are dense with protein and taste so good, you’ll quickly forget you didn’t order meat!
What are you favorite meat substitutes or alternatives that you’ll be feasting on this Xmas and through to Veganuary, New Year 2022? Let us know in the comments below, and feel free to join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!