There aren’t too many “good” meat substitutes out there…
I’ve been vegan for about 1 year and a half now, and I’m pretty much hooked. I have learned to enjoy simpler, healthier foods and cut out a bunch of the unnecessary crap.
However, every once in awhile, I miss the comfy, guilty-pleasure dishes I used to eat: a cheesy bowl of pasta, a juicy burger, succulent breakfast sausages…
My mouth is starting to water just thinking about it.
But of course, I ain’t really ‘bout that life no more. I gave it up, right? For rabbit food…
And if I’m being totally honest with you, too many meat and cheese substitutes are underwhelming at best. I enjoy a good bean burger like any other herbivore, but only when I’m in the mood for a bean burger.
Essentially, if I’m not in the mood for a mouthful of legumes, I’m shit-outta-luck.
Thankfully, for those of us who occasionally miss the taste of meat, these vegan/vegetarian meat brands exist.
I have compiled a list of the 6 BEST vegan meat substitutes I have ever had. Some of them are healthier than others, but I’m going strictly by the quality and taste of the products themselves.
If you’re ok with meat subs in your diet on occasion, I highly recommend that you try each of these at least once.
Field Roast Grain Meat
I first found this brand at Whole Foods market. Other than making delicious vegan artisan sausages, the company also has an interesting story…and an interesting view on what “meat” is.
According to the FAQs section of the site, “meat” is just another word for “solid food”. I took the liberty of researching this and sure enough, there are several definitions of the word “meat”…only one of them defines it as the flesh of an animal/mammal.
The rest refer to nuts, fruits, or eggs, “the main part of something”, or “solid food” that isn’t drink.
Their “meat” is made out of “grains, vegetables, and seasonings”. They take seitan and mix it with traditionally European flavors to form a unique take on vegan/vegetarian favorites.
Unfortunately, this brand is not for the gluten-intolerant. Considering that the meats are made like seitan, they contain vital wheat gluten.
Still a great source of protein, but if you have an allergy, maybe sit this one out and check out something else on this list.
- Deli Meats
- Roasts & Loaves (for special occasions or parties)
- Full meals
They also have their Chao Creamery tofu cheeses, which I haven’t tried yet, but I’m looking forward to. If you already have or you get to it first, let me know what you thought in the comments.
Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef
Good for simple meat sauce or chili recipes. I even sauteed it plain once, with some garlic, spinach, and carrots. Don’t think I needed much else besides some salt and pepper.
It’s also reasonably priced if you’re on a tight budget.
The Beyond Burger
One of the BEST vegan/vegetarian burgers I have EVER tasted…second only to the last entry on this list.
It’s made with pea proteins, totally gluten-free (yay!), and free of soy. So if you’re avoiding a lot of the crap that tends to be in meat substitutes, then this should be high on your list of “must-try”s.
Fortunately, it’s available at Whole Foods (and I’m sure most organic/health food markets) in the freezer section. Unfortunately, it tends to run a little on the expensive side…about $7.00 for a pack of 2 quarter-pound patties.
I’d save money and just buy it pre-made when you’re feeling a burger. I can get one made for $6 at the Whole Foods sandwich counter, and according to the website, you can find them at TGI Fridays, BurgerFi, and Bareburger.
So, initially, I thought this was just the name of a meat substitute, but Tofurky is actually the name of the company.
Like Field Roast, they do several kinds of products: burgers, sausages, hot dogs, tempeh…
My favorites are the Italian sausages (naturally), which I easily sauteed into a lazy-but-delicious pasta dish. If you follow me on Instagram, I posted the picture there, but I’ll also link it here so you can go take a look.
Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages
I am so predictable it’s getting scary.
My future mother-in-law was nice enough to buy these for me when I stayed with them for the holidays. I found that I could eat an entire pack once a day, they were so good.
Keep in mind, though, that I am just a little bit weird (shocker). According to Mum (she’s English, so that’s her name, not “Mom”), the guy at the counter (who was vegetarian) told her that they were awful and to put them back.
I guess I could take that a couple of ways (?), but for now, I’m really glad that she brought them home instead.
Still, I think they were delicious and that anyone who wants an affordable-yet-not-gagworthy meat substitute should give these a try.
(Note: if you have a grill on your oven, I suggest that for best cooking results. Cooking instructions will be on the box).
The Impossible Burger
I saved the best for last!
This one I discovered while visiting my then-boyfriend-now-fiance when he was visiting New York. We decided we wanted to go out for a date night, ended up at the Bareburger in New York because it had options for both of us (I’m vegan, he’s not).
As I scanned the menu, I stumbled across the Impossible Burger and nearly peed myself with excitement!
I had been wanting to try this burger for, like, EVER! I just HAD to order it…and it did not disappoint!
This thing is basically a plant burger that tastes ALMOST COMPLETELY IDENTICAL to red meat. It’s juicy like it, crumbles like it, smells like it…how the hell have they done this?
Well, they explain on their site that it’s all thanks to a compound called heme. By definition, heme is an “iron-containing compound…that forms the nonprotein part of hemoglobin and some other biological molecules”. According to Impossible Foods, this is what gives beef the characteristics that we love so much…the traits that make our mouths water.
Now, since heme is one of the basic building-blocks of life, it’s in plants, too, not just animals. And the heme used in the Impossible Burger is not taken from livestock. So although this burger does not claim to be exclusively vegan, I think it’s pretty safe to say that it is.
What Do You Think?
I hope you enjoyed my list of my 6 favorite vegan meat substitutes!
And I hope it helps you in your search for vegan foods that don’t suck. A lot of people looking to try this diet and lifestyle are afraid that they’ll be missing out, so I had to assure you that you won’t.
Even as a vegan, there are still plenty of great foods out there for you to try and fall in love with. You just gotta know what to look for.
But what do you think? Have you already tried one or more of the things on this list?
How did you like it? OR do YOU have a favorite meat substitute that you think I need to try and include here?
Drop me a comment!