2020: The Year of Meat Substitutes
For many, the year 2020 has been a year full of trials and tribulations. Living amongst a time of uncertainty and fear, many have turned to food for comfort, and I don’t blame you. With more time being spent at home in isolation due to Covid-19, people have dedicated more time to home-cooked meals and family dinners. With more time in the kitchen, what better time than to seek out meat substitutes and meat alternatives and to delve into the world of substitutions for meat?
Living in such ever-changing and unpredictable times can be hard, but if there is one silver lining throughout all of this, it’s having more time to explore new avenues and get creative.
Are meat substitutes healthier than meat?
With all of the mixed messages and conflicting information circulating the internet about using meat substitutes for protein, I’m sure you find yourself asking, “are meat substitutes healthier than meat?”. This question can be tackled in many ways, but in short, not only are vegan meat alternatives beneficial to your personal health, but they are beneficial to the health of the environment as well.
With Global Warming on the rise, there is no better time than now to start implementing plant-based meat substitutes into your everyday life. Studies have proven that by living a vegan lifestyle for just one day, you can have a great, positive impact on the environment. In one day you can save 1100 gallons of water, 30 Square Feet of forest and the life of an innocent animal.
Ask yourself, do you want to make a change to benefit your life as well as the planet? Your actions greatly influence the future of our planet, so keep reading to see how easy it is to replace the meat in your diet!
Seitan, the best fake meat on the market
So where do you start? When the popularity of veganism began to skyrocket, food scientists knew that they would need to create the best fake meat and best meat substitutes.
If you are looking for the best tasting meat substitutes, I would suggest looking into seitan. Seitan is a high protein, a low-fat option that has the ability to really take on the taste and texture of meat. If you are worried your meat-eating friends won’t enjoy your meat replacements at the dinner table, try treating them to a well-seasoned seitan steak. They will be left speechless and coming back for more. Seitan is also commonly used in vegan fried chicken and burger patties. Seitan is one of the better meat alternatives to give to your children if they’re picky eaters. The texture of seitan is most similar to that of meat so your little one won’t be as confused when they bite into it.
Seitan is made up of vital wheat gluten, so if you are trying to avoid gluten for health reasons, this meat replacement is probably not the one for you.
Gluten-free meat substitutes, to cater to all
If you are looking for low carb meat substitutes or gluten-free meat substitutes, I suggest looking into the myriad of recipes involving tofu and tempeh as the meat replacement. Tofu is a soy-based product which is high in protein and fats but low in carbs. Tofu on its own does not provide much flavour, but if seasoned correctly can be the star of your dish. Tofu also has a high liquid content.
Before using tofu you should press it, either in a tofu press or between a cloth, in order to release some of the liquids. Similar to tofu is tempeh. Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans which some prefer over the processing tofu goes through. Different in textures, tofu and tempeh both play very similar roles in your dishes. They both can commonly be seen cubed up in stir-fries, mixed into curries or served on the side as fake meat steaks.
As these two meat replacements both don’t contain a lot of flavour on their own, it’s best to marinate these meat substitutes overnight, as you would with your normal meats. Tofu can also be used as a replacement for eggs as commonly seen in tofu scrambles. Tofu and tempeh are magical foods that can take on many shapes, sizes, forms and flavours. I suggest giving them both a try.
Jackfruit, the best meat alternative
If seitan, tofu and tempeh are all not doing it for you, have no fear, jackfruit is here! Jackfruit is much different than seitan, tofu and tempeh. Jackfruit has the ability to reenact the perfect BBQ pulled pork sandwich or to fill the most delicious tacos. Similar to the other meat alternatives mentioned already, jackfruit has the ability to take on whatever flavour it is marinated in.
Jackfruit is definitely one of the more daunting meat substitutes to work within the kitchen, but what better a time to experiment with new foods than in isolation. Your jackfruit meat alternative dish will be just the thing you didn’t know you were missing.
With vegetarianism and veganism on the rise in hopes to save not only our health but the planet’s health, meat replacements are becoming more and more accessible to the population at large. I promise you that the best vegan meat substitutes and vegetarian meat alternatives do exist. It may take some taste testing to figure out which ones best suit your taste buds but eventually, you will discover which substitute is the best meat alternative for you, your family and your friends.
The holidays are fast approaching, and maybe it’s your task to cook the family dinner. If this is the case, I suggest you start your experimentations sooner than later to ensure you create the best vegan holiday dinner!
All in all, there are many amazing vegetarian and vegan meat alternatives to choose from. We covered seitan, tofu, tempeh, and jackfruit, but the list goes on. 2020 is no longer the time to settle for the mundane meat-filled dishes. It is time to explore all avenues in the kitchen with family and friends. So the next time you find yourself turning to food for comfort, skip the meat and turn to meat alternatives, I promise you won’t regret it. 2020 may not be the year for many reasons, but let’s make it the year for veganism!
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