I am not one who has been craving meat ever since I gave it up overnight about 10 years ago.
Yet, recently, I got absolutely obsessed with this stew I came up with, which includes veggies, potatoes, and large meaty chunks of juicy, deliciously meaty soy bites. As soon as I start eating them, I find myself devouring the dish with such insatiable appetite, that I soon realized I have somehow been missing a truly ‘meaty’ texture in my meals. Even now as I am writing, I find myself craving the very same meal!
So, I have finally had to confess…
I have been actually missing and craving not meat itself, but the very texture and juiciness of certain meals. Good news is there are tons of vegan options to satisfy this craving!
Here’s how to get a mouthful of meatiness with none of the cruelty!
Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, and TVP
You may not think of tofu or tempeh as vegetables, but they are plant-based and made from soybeans. TVP, or texturized vegetable protein, is also made from soy. Seitan is made from wheat gluten. The meat in any recipe can be replaced with one of these plant-based options.
Made from soybean curds, tofu’s a great low-cal protein source. The spongy beige stuff works raw, baked, grilled, or fried and easily absorbs the taste of whatever it’s cooked in— yum! Plus, it works in pretty much any traditional meat dish (and even on a stick).
Tempeh’s the crunchy cousin of tofu and seitan. It’s made from soybeans, and a single serving packs as much protein as some meats. Tempeh works well in basic rice and veggie dishes, or in more exotic ones like spicy sushi, so try grilling and frying it with different flavors.
Sei-what? Swap meat for wheat and use this vegan alternative made from wheat gluten. The texture is pretty similar to meat’s, and like tofu, it absorbs the flavor of any sauce. Bake it, grill it, fry it (it’s not so appetizing raw)— seitan can sub for meat in fajitas or fancy up vegetable dishes.
Textured Vegetable Protein
TVP is a great source of protein and other important nutrients, and doesn’t take much preparation. Dehydrated powder rarely sounds appealing (astronauts can’t be the pickiest eaters), but TVP is actually a great way to make vegan versions of dishes like meatloaf and chili. There are lots of different varieties, like powder, chunks, and slices. Find it in most health food stores and buy it in bulk— it lasts up to a year in a sealed container.
Made from soy pulp, okara’s high in nutrients like protein and fiber. It can replace meat and eggs in soups, stews, and omelets, and even transforms crab cakes into a vegan delicacy.
When you want that meaty taste, that umami, mushrooms are the way to go. Their flavor is rich, earthy, and meaty, especially cremini or Portobello mushrooms. They are healthy and filling and can replace meat in any recipe.
If you have not yet tried jackfruit, you need to go out and get some. Technically, jackfruit is a fruit but incredibly, it can stand in for meat in savory dishes. You can buy it raw or already cut up in a can. Jackfruit has a very slight sweet taste but not so much that you can’t use it to make a decadent, satisfying Philly Cheesesteak. Jackfruit is perfect for barbecue sandwiches, stir-fries, or any dish that uses beef, chicken, or pork.
Right now I bet you’re thinking, “How can cauliflower replace meat? It’s so white and bland.” Well, it can. When you season it and cook it up right, cauliflower can be the star of any dish. Try these Mouthwatering Spicy Buffalo Bites.
Lentils have always been a stand-in for meat since the beginning of veganism. Lentils are hearty and can replace ground beef easily. Lentils come in a variety of colors such as green, red, brown, and black. They cook up quickly, are inexpensive, and a small amount goes a long way.
Ok, technically, nuts are not vegetables but they can be used to make vegan cheese and to replace meat in your cooking. Nuts can be incredibly “meaty” and can make a hearty and rich “meat” loaf for dinner. Nuts are often added to vegan burgers for added “meatiness.”
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