Plant-based diets are no longer an anomaly — in fact, more and more people are looking to transition to plant-based foods, for a variety of reasons. While many associated vegetarian and vegan diets with opposition to the meat industry — which in itself is a valid reason to stop eating meat for many — many are turned to plant-based foods to help not only themselves, but the environment at large. Certain studies have indicated that people who replaced meat with plant-based foods have a 20% lower mortality rate compared to meat eaters. This is probably due to the fact that — as shown by research — plant-based foods can help treat real health problems. This includes angina attacks, which have been shown to be reduced by 90% within weeks thanks to plant-based diets. The demand for plant-based diets also can, in the long term, cut down on the number of animals being farmed for meat, which will in turn benefit the environment. After all, roughly 18% of greenhouse gas emissions are related to livestock production.
But as 40% of consumers begin to try to introduce more vegan foods into their diets, they may find themselves daunted by the prospect of removing all meat-based recipes from their meals. Fortunately, meat substitutes are no longer the bland, pale comparisons that they once were. Meat made from plants is not only a valid alternative to meat in general, but is now being produced to replace specific meats. Let’s dive in to some of the best recipes with vegan meat substitutes on the market!
1. Vegan French Dip Sandwiches
French dip sandwiches can be found in restaurants that serve both high end cuisine and fast food. They are endlessly popular, but can be seen as difficult to recreate for a vegan palate, especially because they not only feature beef — and au jus, a dipping sauce made from beef — but cheese, which as an animal product cannot be added to a strict vegan diet. Fortunately, a vegetable broth, as well as mushrooms, can mimic the flavor of the au jus sauce, especially when added to meat made from plants. Vegan beef is specifically made to mimic the flavors of beef, and an added kick of vegan Worcestershire sauce not only draws out the flavors, but replaces the creamy texture that would be provided by cheese.
2. Vegan Chorizo
Chorizo — delicious Mexican sausage — is another meal that may seem to be impossible on a vegan diet. It can’t be recreated easily in your own kitchen with vegetables, which is why meat made from plants that is specifically designed to replace pork is so valuable. One of the keys to drawing the correct flavor from the vegan pork is to add in whole chilies to the base of the chorizo. Usually, what we love so much about meat-based recipes is less the flavor of the meat itself but the flavor of the meat combined with other products, and the same can be found when you combine meat made from plants with other foods. Soy can be especially great base for vegan pork!
3. Vegan Fried Chicken
It may seem impossible to create fried chicken without the chicken — but believe us, it’s been done, and with great success! In fact, many vegan friendly meat products are excellent fried. This is part because they are made from vegetables, which of course are great fried even before they’ve been converted into meat substitute products! Perhaps the most important thing to remember when frying vegan chicken, however, is that the product will likely burn at a different temperature than meat would.
Ultimately, everyone has different preferences when it comes to meat alternatives. Some prefer to stick to vegetables in their raw form — but making them taste as meat would can take a lot of work in your home kitchen. Using meat substitutes that have been designed to replace animal products saves a lot of time, while keeping you in the realm of flavor that you love most!