These days there are a huge number of delicious, nutritious vegetarian recipes available in books and online. Most of these recipes have been designed to be veggie from the ground up, and work around the lack of meat. However, sometimes what you really want is to take a classic non-vegetarian recipe and make it veggie, for which you need good vegetarian meat substitutes. For some, it’s a traditional dish that they want to recreate for their new diet. For others, it may be to serve to people who balk at the idea of a meatless meal. Whatever the reason, there are a number of meat substitutes available that fit the bill.
Tofu – The butt of many vegetarian jokes, tofu is often misconstrued as being tasteless and bland. The reality is, it all depends on how it’s cooked. Tofu absorbs the flavours you’re using, and comes in both firm and soft varieties, making it a highly flexible vegan substitute for meat. Tofu can be baked, fried, skewered onto kebabs, and works great as a substitute for pork and chicken.
Legumes– Legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are filling and versatile options. When ground together and mixed with flour and oil, they can be used to create vegetarian burger patties and filler for traditional meat dishes such as meatloaf, lasagne or sausage rolls.
Eggplant – The size, density and texture of eggplant makes it a perfect meat substitute. Full of nutritional value, eggplants can be roasted, fried or minced up to suit a wide range of dishes. It is also perfect for absorbing flavour and filling out a meal.
Seitan – Made from wheat gluten, seitan has an incredibly similar texture to meat and contains a high amount of protein as well, making it a popular vegan substitute for vegetarian cooking.
Soy Products – For those who want a quick and easy substitute for meat products, soy is an increasingly common choice. You can buy soy hotdogs, burger patties and more- making it easy to prepare old favourites in a flash.
There’s a wide range of vegetarian meat substitutes for all occasions and most vegetarians would agree that they are tastier and more nutritious than their meaty equivalents.
Soy and tofu are handy for bulking up a dish, but there have been some concerns over negative health effects from eating too much too frequently, especially with soy. Better to try and stick to the natural options as much as possible, I think. Plus they usually taste better anyway in my opinion.
Pro-tip: if you really want to know how tofu can be done right, try going to a Chinese vegetarian restaurant. They’re the absolute experts at making it taste amazing, and I find it helps to replicate the dish at home if you already know what you’re aiming for.