A big objection to eating plant-based: feeling like you must give up the foods you love (and never eat them again). There’s really no need to do this. The main reason: the ability to make just about any recipe plant-based (and healthier too).
I’m not going to lie to you: there simply isn’t the perfect plant-based substitute for every meat and animal product. But, some meats can be very easily substituted with plant-based foods, and many substitutes are way tastier than you probably think.
A lot of these substitutes are packed with protein as well. Tofu is rich in protein with 16 g of protein in a 6-oz serving size. Seitan, which substitutes well for chicken, has 30 g of protein per 4 oz. Don’t forget beans, with black, pinto, and kidney beans all clocking in around 15 g per cup (cooked).
Of course, there are the substitutes like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Morningstar, Lightlife, and other brands you’ll find at the grocery store and in restaurants. These can all be fantastic for getting started eating less meat as many of these substitutes are very close in taste and texture to meat.
However, if your goal is to eat healthier, these store-bought meat substitutes often aren’t the healthiest options. Many are relatively high in sodium, saturated fat, and calories– often not higher than their meat counterparts, but they can be. So be sure to check the nutrition label rather than assuming it’s healthy simply because it’s plant-based.
That said, I limit these store-bought, processed burgers and meats to a few meals a week. I wouldn’t eat the “real” meat versions of these foods every day, so I treat the plant-based options the same way.
Plus, some whole food substitutes like beans, lentils, and tempeh work amazing in foods like tacos, chili, and more without the need for the processed options.
Everyone’s tastes are different. Experiment with what you find, keep cooking the things you like and forget about the things you don’t.
Use These Plant-Based Substitutes for These Meats
Wondering how to sub out meat and other animal products for plant-based options? Whether it’s eggs, cheese, butter or any other common foods, this article makes it simple to make the swap.
How to Make Any Recipe Vegan (and Healthy) from Forks Over Knives
Best Plant-Based Meats, Ranked by a Meat Eater
If you’re considering store-bought plant-based meats, this article ranks 14 of the top vegetarian options you’re likely to find at your local grocery store. From meatballs to fish fillets and even jerky, this article has something for everyone.
Plant-Based Meats, Ranked by a Devout Non-Vegetarian from Thrillist
Meat Substitutes: Which are Healthy (and Not)?
As I mentioned above, not all meat substitutes are healthy. For store-bought meat substitutes, you have to “[t]ake a magnifying glass to the ingredients panel,” the Cleveland Clinic says. Check out the nutrition info and assess “[d]oes it contain simple ingredients?” and “[w]hat is the saturated fat and sodium content?” before you buy. When in doubt, stick to the “classics” of tempeh, tofu, beans, and lentils.
Are Meat Substitutes Healthy? from Health Essentials at Cleveland Clinic
This Week’s Recipes
Feast on these recipes made with popular meat substitutes
Lentils are a wonderful, whole food option to replace beef in pasta dishes. Make this super simple recipe by tossing everything into a single pot, and you have a complete meal in just 10 minutes.
One-Pot Lentil Bolognese Pasta (in 10-12 Minutes) from NutritionStudies.org
There are dozens of plant-based burgers available in stores. But burgers can easily be made with a few basic ingredients and without the oil, sodium, and additives you’ll find in store-bought varieties. Check out this easy black bean mushroom burger with only 8 ingredients.
Easy Black Bean Mushroom Burger (Vegan, Gluten Free) from 2 Share My Joy
Tofu gets a bad rap for lacking flavor. I didn’t learn to enjoy tofu until I learned the most important lesson: it’s all about the sauces and spices you cook it with. Master the tofu stir-fry to start, and you’ll see what I mean.
20-Minute Tofu Stir-Fry from Minimalist Baker
Tacos are one of the easiest foods to make 100% plant-based. And who doesn’t love tacos? Not only are they packed with protein and fiber from beans, but they’re also fast and simple to make.
Vegan Black Bean Tacos (Quick + Easy) from The Simple Veganista
Sometimes you just want wings. Seitan provides a nice, firm texture to mimic real wings, making this one of my favorite guilty pleasure treats.
Barbecue Seitan Wings from World of Vegan
If you’re looking for extra meaty options, here’s plenty of ideas and inspiration from an author who says “I am the only vegan living in a family of carnivores.”
35 Carnivore-Approved Vegan Meals from My Goodness Kitchen
To your health,