I CAN’T GIVE UP MEAT!!! This is a statement that is often mentioned when people not willing to transition to a plant-based diet. It’s not surprising since meat (chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and fish) is the main component of a typical American diet. Due to the potential health concerns and negative environmental impact that’s associated with meat consumption, switching to meatless alternative is a good idea. This article will detail five foods in no particular order that can act as a replacement to meat.
A legume is an edible dry fruit that is contained within a pod. Some of the most common types of legumes include kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, white beans, chick peas, peanuts, and lentils. Legumes can be considered nutrition powerhouse. They are rich in protein, fiber (soluble & insoluble, complex carbohydrates, folate, potassium and iron. Legumes are also naturally low in fat and like all plants contain zero cholesterol. Legumes can be eaten alongside rice, added to a salad, eaten in a chili, and made into a burger patty.
Tofu is a popular food in the Southeast and East Asian culture that is derived from soy beans. Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the resulting curds into white blocks. Depending on the amount of water extracted from the curds, tofu can come in various textures (soft, firm, extra firm, & super firm). These different textures allows for a lot of versatility when cooking tofu. When added to recipes, tofu takes on the flavor of whatever you’re making. Tofu is a great low-calorie source of protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids. Tofu is also a good source of iron and calcium. Tofu can be used to make many dishes such as stir fries, nuggets, scrambles, soups, tacos, sandwiches, and baked goods.
Tempeh is a soy product that originates from Indonesia. It is made by fermenting cooked soybeans and has a brownish color with a firm and chewy consistency. Compared to tofu, tempeh is slightly higher in calories, but is less processed and higher in fiber and protein. Tempeh can be added to salads, casseroles, pasta sauces, or soups.
Seitan unlike tofu and tempeh is not made from soy. It is a food made from gluten, which is a protein found in wheat. During its processing, wheat flour dough is washed with water until all the starch is removed. Seitan mimics the texture of meat very well and has more protein per ounce compare to tofu and tempeh. Seitan can be made into sandwiches, added to stir fries, or turned into kabobs. As a side note, seitan would not be a good meat substitute for anybody with Celiac Disease or sensitivity to gluten.
Portobello and cremini mushrooms are great alternatives to meat due to their rich and meaty textures. These mushrooms can be great additions to a healthy diet. Mushrooms are low in saturated fat and cholesterol and are an excellent source potassium, copper, and the B-vitamins riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Portobello and cremini mushrooms are great when served as a burger and can also be added to soups, salads, and omelets.