Little by little, people are starting to internalize what has been common knowledge for a long time now: processed and red meats are bad for us. Eating a lot of deli meat and steaks can increase your odds of developing heart disease, diverticulitis, Alzheimer’s and bowel cancer. But, as in all things, old habits die hard, and many of us have gotten accustomed to juicy red meat and hot dogs.
Luckily, we are living in an era of unparalleled food technology and innovation, and plant-based meat substitutes that appeal to the palates of meat addicts have never been as readily-available. And just in case you’re thinking of a bland vegetable patty, we’re talking protein rich, juicy and savory products that taste just like the real thing.
1. Mock meat
One of the fastest-rising food industries is mock meat, manufactured by companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Their popular burgers are based on plant-protein and are lab-engineered to have many of the same qualities of real beef patties, including texture, succulence and taste. Imitation burgers are cholesterol free, are rich in protein and vitamins and are 100% meat free. Numerous restaurant chains now offer mock meat options, and various retail stores either already have these products or will have them in the near future.
Tofu is probably the most famous meat substitute and one that has the longest history, as it was invented for that purpose around 2,000 years ago in China. Extra-firm tofu, if treated with rub or marinade can make for a great replacement for chicken or even steak, and can be a delicious centerpiece for a healthy version of a hoagie.
Legumes are savory, chock-full of proteins and vitamins and are actually really good for your heart. As such, they’re a great candidate for meat replacement and can easily be ground up into delicious hamburger patties. All you need are some cooked grains, bread crumbs and eggs, and you’ve got a wonderful burger. For a vegan patty, replace the egg with flax meal or chia seeds.
Carrot dogs are different to other meat replacements in that they don’t try to be something they aren’t. Carrots aren’t anything like highly-processed hot dogs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t preferable. A roasted and seasoned carrot is great in a bun with mustard and sauerkraut, and has none of the health downsides of a real frankfurter.
This relatively obscure fruit is about the size of a very large watermelon and is native to South Asia. Its flesh is soft and sweet when ripe, but when unripe, it is meaty, with a milder taste and is often locally used in curry. As such, young jackfruit is great as a replacement for pulled pork recipes or gyros/shawarma.