Best Alternatives to Meat
Our list of best meat alternatives includes options to suit every taste. We know that not everyone loves tofu, so we have listed other whole foods like grains and legumes. You don’t need to come up with new vegan recipes. Just find the plant-based protein that works best for your menu.
Tofu is becoming a more familiar sight on menus, but it can still be an intimidating ingredient to the uninitiated. It doesn’t have to be! Tofu is full of plant-based protein and makes the perfect meat substitute for chicken, pork, or beef in stir-fry dishes. Tuck a marinated tofu plank into a crusty hoagie roll for vegan banh mi or crumble seasoned tofu with herbs and veggies for a satisfying plant-based scramble.
What does Tofu taste like?
Tofu is bland and neutral when it comes out of the packaging. When it is prepared properly, tofu absorbs flavors from marinades and seasonings like a sponge. Choose a firm or extra-firm tofu, not silken. Squeeze out the liquid first.
Seitan (pronounced say-tan) is a soy-free protein source that mimics the texture of meat. It’s made from vital wheat gluten, a flour-like ingredient comprised of mostly gluten and a small percentage of starch. That means seitan isn’t suitable for a gluten-free diet, but it’s a useful meat alternative for anyone with a soy allergy.
Seitan can be found in many vegan products, including holiday roasts and fake meats. Its chewy texture is what sets it apart. It is easy to prepare and does not require as much prep work as tofu. It absorbs flavors and marinades very well.
Seitan vs Tofu
Tofu is made from soy, whereas seitan is a meat alternative made of wheat. Seitan is a good meat substitute for people with soy allergies because it contains no soy. Seitan, which is made from wheat gluten, is not suitable for people with gluten allergies. By including both tofu as well as seitan on your menu, you can cater to alternative diets or allergies.
How To Cook Seitan
It’s not a secret how to cook with seitan. It’s almost impossible to go wrong. You can add seitan strips or chunks to any recipe that calls for chicken, beef, or pork. You can also make seitan cutlets breaded, seitan bacon, and fried chicken wings. Browning seitan in a pan before adding it to soups or stews will lock in the flavor.
Tempeh is a soy product, just like tofu, but it has a very different texture and flavor. To make tempeh, whole soybeans are cooked, fermented, and pressed into a cake. Tempeh is dense with a slightly bitter, nutty flavor. It can be cut into cubes, slices, or even crumbled. What sets tempeh apart from other soy products is that it contains healthy probiotics in addition to being a protein source.
Tempeh vs. Seitan
The main difference between seitan and tempeh lies in the fact that seitan is made from wheat, while tempeh comes from soy. Tempeh also has a fermented component, which gives it extra nutrition.
Tempeh: How to Prepare it
Tempeh has a versatile texture and a meaty taste that makes it suitable for a wide range of recipes. Tempeh is different from tofu and does not require the same preparation. This meat substitute is best cooked using dry heat methods such as grilling, baking, and sauteeing.
- Steam it. Removes bitterness by steaming tempeh in salted water or vegetable broth for a short time.
- Crumbled– Tempeh cakes are ground into a meat substitute. To lock in the flavor, sautee the crumbles along with seasonings and olive oil. Then, add them to any recipe that calls for ground beef. You can also serve tempeh tacos or tempeh chili as a tasty menu item.
- Sliced & Marinated– Thin slices of tempeh can be marinated in soy sauce & maple syrup and then baked or pan-fried to create a delicious bacon substitute.
- Cubed-Cut tempeh into small cubes and coat them in barbecue sauce. Add them to kabobs as a grilled entree.
Yuba is a soy product that’s not as well known as tofu or tempeh, but it has a unique texture that sets it apart. Also called tofu skin or bean curd sheet, yuba is made when soy milk is heated, and a layer of skin forms on top of the liquid. The thin top layer is removed and packaged in sheets or long strips that look like noodles.
Tofu Skin: How to Use it
Tofu can be bought fresh or dried. Tofu skin is thin and can easily burn when heated up. Watch the yuba closely and use low heat. Use our tips to use yuba or skin of tofu in your recipes.
- Yuba Sheets– Yuba sheets are dried and have a paper-like texture. Soak them in warm, lukewarm water for 3 to 5 minutes. Before cutting the sheets into desired shapes, squeeze out any excess water. The sheets can be used as a wrapper to make spring rolls or dumplings.
- Dried Beancurd Sticks– Dried yuba sticks are skins that have layered. Rehydrate the dried yuba in water for six to eight hours. After draining, chop the sticks into bite-sized pieces and use them as a meat alternative in stir-fried or braised dishes.
- Fresh Yuba You can also purchase fresh yuba that doesn’t require rehydration. To separate the sheets, rinse the yuba with water. Use the sheets to make noodles for soups or pasta, wrap them around dumplings, or fry them crisply for an appetizer.
Butler Foods is the only company that makes Soy Curls, a meat substitute. These strips of protein are not the same as other soy products, such as tofu or tempeh, because they have been minimally processed. Butler Foods claims that soy curls are produced by boiling non-GMO whole soybeans with water. These products contain no preservatives or additives.
Soy Curls or Tofu?
Both Soy Curls and Tofu are made from soy but have very different textures. Tofu is made into a solid, cake-like form. Soy curls have a chewy texture.
Where to buy Soy Curls
Butler Foods and other food retailers offer bulk soy curls for sale online.
How to Cook Soy Curls
Soy curls are a great option for those looking for a meat substitute that is easy to prepare and can be used in a wide variety of recipes. The soy curls have a chewy, umami-flavored texture that is enhanced by cooking. Follow our tips to get started:
- Soak– The soy curls are dehydrated and need only a quick soak in warm tap water before cooking. To add flavor, soak them in seasoned vegetable stock.
- Pat dry — Squeeze any excess liquid out and pat the soy curls before cooking. The drier, the better, as the rings will brown more easily.
- High-Heat– The rehydrated curds can be grilled, sauteed, baked, or air-fried. They are a good substitute for chicken when used in stir-fry and curry.
- Slow and Low: You can also slowly cook soy curls in soups and stews. This method does not require you to rehydrate your soy curls.
Ground Beef Substitute
Meatless grounds, also called veggie crumbles, are one of the easiest plant-based proteins to cook with! There are many brands of vegan bases and crumbles on the market, and most are made with protein-filled ingredients like soy, peas, and brown rice. The texture of plant-based crumbles mimics ground beef when used in certain recipes.
How to cook Veggie Crumbles
You only need to keep in mind one thing when preparing meatless ground. Brown the crumbles with seasoning before adding them to recipes. You wouldn’t throw a pound of uncooked ground meat into a pot with pasta sauce. Give the vegan grounds some love and treat them like beef in a hot skillet. Sautéing them in oil with a bit of onion and garlic will give you a more flavorful result. Add plant-based ground to your favorite comfort foods:
- Chili Season ground beefless with chili seasoning, then add it to kidney beans and chunky tomatoes.
- Tacos Tacos always go down well. Swap out the meat for crumbles of meatless, and you’ve got a plant-based alternative.
- Bolognese Sauce– Create a variety of pasta dishes with a vegan Bolognese Sauce. Be sure to season the onions and garlic with your meatless ground before adding it to the sauce.
- Shepherd’s Pie– You can replace the ground beef with crumbles of vegan food in your recipe for shepherd’s pie, and no one will know the difference.
- Empanadas — You can’t miss these golden, warm pockets filled with meaty fillings. Make a tasty dish with meatless crumbles and potatoes, onions, peppers, and spices.
- Pizza – Meatless crumbles make a great pizza topping! Pair the crumbles and non-dairy cheesy with a vegan option.
Making your veggie burgers is more challenging than you would think. Getting the ingredients to bind together without using eggs or dairy-based ingredients can be tricky. You might create a wholesome mixture of beans and veggies, but once the patty goes on the grill, it tends to crumble. Many house-made veggie burgers fall apart and don’t have the meaty texture that customers are looking for in a plant-based burger.
There are many high-quality plant-based burgers to choose from, thanks to the veggie-burger war between Impossible Foods & Beyond Meat! The veggie burger of today is savory and meaty. It cooks just like a regular beef burger.
How long to cook Veggie Burgers?
You might wonder how long you should cook a plant-based hamburger if it is your first time. It doesn’t have meat in it, but you still need to cook it to the temperature specified on the packaging. A little char is good for the veggie burger and will give it a more grilled meat flavor. Don’t remove those burgers too soon!