Millions of people are switching to a plant-based diet after realizing the health benefits that plant-based foods can offer. The last three years have seen about a 600% rise in the number of vegans in the United States alone. However, some people switch to a vegan diet because of ethical and environmental reasons. There is no doubt that plant-based food offers more nutrients than a meat-based diet. These nutrients allow us to maintain our health and prevent several chronic diseases.
For beginners, following a vegan diet can be difficult because most of them love meat products and the transition to a diet that does not contain any meat makes them crave for meat products. The best solution for this is vegan meat. The plant-based meat also has a similar texture and taste as that of actual meat. Vegan meat is a good choice for vegans who avoid meat products due to ethical reasons.
Here is the list of some of the best meat substitutes made from plant products.
The making of tofu is similar to the making of cheese from dairy milk. This plant-based substitute for meat is made by condensing soy milk and then pressing it into blocks of different firmness. Many vegans use tofu as their main plant-based meat because tofu is a great source of protein and contains all the essential amino acids for the body.
Tofu has a very mild flavor that allows the users to marinate it and give it the flavor they like. Even though most people use tofu as a meat substitute, it can also be used as a substitute for eggs in several dishes and also mix it into soups. The tofu sold by different companies varies in their nutritional content.
One cup of tofu contains 188.4 calories, 20 grams of protein, 13.3 grams of iron, 0.144 grams of fiber, 868 milligrams of calcium, and 11.86 grams of fat. It is important to note that those who wish to avoid GM foods should look for tofu products that are certified non-GM and organic.
Seitan has a very similar texture to chicken and is very commonly used in mock meat products like vegan burgers. Seitan is made from wheat gluten. During the production process, the wheat is rinsed in water. This removes the starch from the wheat and leaves behind a protein-dense food.
Seitan is very nutritious but it is not suitable for people suffering from celiac diseases, gluten allergy, and anyone who follows a gluten-free diet. Additional ingredients like legumes are also included in some seitan products.
140 calories, 28 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fat are present in just 4 ounce serving of seitan. However, the seitan does not contain any iron or calcium.
Tempeh is a soy-based meat substitute that is very common in Indonesia. Even though tempeh and tofu are soy, both of them have some key differences. Tempeh is manufactured from whole soybeans and uses the fermentation process. It has a drier texture and some of the tempeh products contain additional ingredients like grains and beans.
Due to the additional ingredients like beans, tempeh is rich in protein and fiber content than tofu. Tempeh is also rich in some gut-friendly probiotics and prebiotics. 33.7 grams of protein and 17.9 grams of fat is present in just one cup of tempeh.
Texturized Vegetable Protein
It is also called as defatted soy flour, which is the byproduct of soybean oil extraction. Texturized vegetable protein is made by separating soybean protein from fat. This is done using a high heat process and the end product of the process is a curd-like product rich in protein.
The users have to soak TVP in hot water or cook it before consuming it. After cooking, texturized vegetable protein has a similar texture to that of ground meat. 35 grams of protein, 164 milligrams of calcium, 11.9 grams of fiber, 6.28 milligrams of iron is present in just one cup serving of texturized vegetable protein.
Choosing A Plant-Based Meat
With the rise in the number of vegans in the world, many food manufacturers are producing plant-based meat that is rich in nutrients and has similar texture and taste as that of meat. However, some of the meat substitutes still contain some animal products. Therefore, you need to read the label to ensure that the vegan meat of your choice is 100% free of animal products before buying them.
Some of the plant-based meat contains added vitamins like vitamin B-12, zinc, and iron that lacks in a vegan diet. Therefore, you need to choose such plant-based meat for including these nutrients in your vegan diet. Also, make sure that the meat substitutes you buy are free of gluten and are non-GMO.