Written by Riley Fairchild • October 26, 2023
Modern technology has done wonders for the world. Phones that have seemingly endless functionality. 3D printing that can be used for medical devices, toys, and art. And meat alternatives that taste just like meat.
But what are the main meat alternatives and what are they actually made out of? With so many meat alternatives on the market these days, eating vegetarian — and even vegan! — has never been easier, with many delicious options.
The first meat alternative commonly found in savory dishes is tofu. Tofu is made out of soybean curds, which are pressed into the blocks that you can buy at the store. Sometimes, these blocks of tofu are pre-seasoned or pre-marinated, meaning that you only need to tear into the package, cut up into chunks, and cook up without too much fuss. Other times, tofu is a blank canvas that can absorb any sauce it comes into contact with. It’s a versatile food that is a great addition to any dish.
Tofu is free of cholesterol and low in saturated fat, which makes it a healthy option especially if you’re giving up meat for health reasons. However, tofu is still a processed food and isn’t in all forms a healthy food.
Next is seitan, a meat alternative option that’s been available for many years but never seemed to get the credit it deserved. Seitan is made out of wheat gluten and it’s actually incredibly easy to make at home. It packs in the protein and also takes up flavor nicely.
Because seitan is made out of wheat — and particularly made from the gluten in wheat — it’s not friendly for those who are gluten sensitive, intolerant, or those who have Celiac’s disease.
Beyond Meat is a brand with many meat alternative products like burgers, sausages, “chicken” nuggets, and more. This meat alternative is easy to prepare and can be cooked similar to how you would cook regular meat. It’s the perfect addition to a cookout with friends or for a quick dinner at home.
Beyond meat products are made from different types of plant proteins. You can find pea protein, brown rice protein, mung and fava bean proteins, and more. These products contain no GMOs, antibiotics, or homes like meat does. They’re also Kosher and Halal!
Last on our list is Impossible Meat, which is another company that produces many meat alternative products. Their most famous is Impossible Beef, which looks and tastes almost exactly like ground beef. In fact, you might do a double take at the grocery store — the packaging and the contents of that packaging look eerily like ground beef! This meat alternative cooks in a matter of minutes, meaning that it’s many people’s go-to dinner during the week.
Impossible Meat has the same amount of protein as some ground beef. These products are gluten free and are made from soy protein, coconut and sunflower oil, potato protein, and a few other ingredients.
The company Impossible Meat is dedicated to sustainable production practices, boasting that their products involve a considerably smaller amount of land and water resources to produce and emit a lower amount of emissions than regular beef products.
Liking the sound of any of the above meat alternatives? Not only are you faced with many options for a meat alternative, but you can cook them in so many different ways and with so many different flavors. The best meat alternative for you will depend on your texture, taste, and cooking preferences.
This list is surely not comprehensive! Let’s not forget the original meat alternatives like beans, chickpeas, and jackfruit, the non-meat protein sources of the past. Bringing any of these ingredients into action at your workplace can be a fun way to mix around lunch and can also be a good way to promote sustainable practices.