A common tendency among people transitioning to a whole food, plant-based diet is to find those delicious recipes or meals that include a meat substitute. I understand why people would crave the one thing that was the center of their dinner plate for decades. It’s likely you are missing the flavor, texture, and colors of meat, which fake meat products mimic. The biggest concerns with many of these products, however, are the isolated soy proteins, textured protein, excessive use of oils, and salts they contain. You have to pick your battles if you are using these products, but here are some guidelines I use when choosing to play around in the fake meat arena.
- Avoid products with soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein. Both of these ingredients are highly processed.
- Check for added oils. Often times fake meat products are loaded with oils to enhance flavor and mouth feel.
- Sodium is a big issue with many of these products since they are often extremely high in salt.
Minimally Processed Fake Meat Alternatives:
- Baked tofu or tempeh. Marinate and roast these products to get that chewy texture you enjoy.
- Try a variety of mushrooms. Shitake mushrooms specifically offer a chewy texture and are great at absorbing flavors.
- Green jackfruit or young green jackfruit can take on the appearance and texture of meat when it is cooked. I love to slow cook green jackfruit or roast young green jackfruit.
- Butler soy curls are 100% soybeans and when hydrated offer a very meaty and chewy texture. We like to hydrate and marinate soy curls in a BBQ sauce or chop them for a mock chicken salad sandwich.