What to Eat Instead of Meat? (10 Tasty Meatless Options)

Some people just can’t live without meat…or so they’d say. What’s to miss about meat? I have heard people say they don’t feel full unless there’s meat, or that there’s nothing good to eat. If you think this, allow me to introduce to you some tasty meatless options that I have enjoyed for years as a vegan.

So what is there to eat instead of meat? Well, unlike what mainstream media may have led you to believe, there are plenty of vegan foods that are high in protein, but in this post we’re going to look at the foods that are meant to replace meat on your dinner plate.

There are the healthier, natural, whole foods that everybody knows about such as your beans, lentils, and chickpeas, as well as more processed “junk” such as vegan burgers, hot dogs, and other stuff like that.

Healthy (Natural & Whole Foods) Meatless Options

The following foods are good for meat replacement because they are not only high in protein, but they are heavier and have a meaty-like feel to it, they are also very high in fiber and this will keep you feeling full after eating. If people miss meat because they say they’re hungry after meals, tell them to load their plates with these following foods!

1. Beans

Beans are an extremely cheap source of vegan protein and can be found at just about any grocery store in dried or canned forms. In addition to protein, they are very high in vitamins and minerals such as copper, iron, and potassium, as well as fueling your body with complex carbs which gives you a steady source of energy.

They be used in a variety of ways to replace meat. For example, instead of strips of beef in a burrito, just replace the beef with a few scoops of black, kidney, or pinto beans!

2. Lentils

red and green lentils

Just like beans, lentils are very high in protein and are full of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B1, B6, iron, phosphorus, and manganese. Another extremely cheap substitute for meat, I mean, a 1kg bag of lentils is like $3-$4 and it will last you for weeks.

You can mash them up, make soup out of it, put them in vegan shepard’s pie, or eat them as they are. They have tons of fiber which is not only good for helping you feel full after eating, diets high in fiber can lower your risk of heart disease.

3. Chickpeas

bowl of chickpeas in tomato sauce

Good source of iron, zinc, copper, folate, and manganese, chickpeas are also known as “garbanzo beans” and they are another great high protein meat replacement. They are very high in fiber, most of which is insoluble fiber – they puff up in your stomach which immensely help maintain your digestive health.

Because they’re so high in fiber, it helps with satiety. They can be used to make hummus, falafel, mashed and spread on sandwiches, or just eaten in their whole form in a salads, soups..etc

Man-Made Processed Meatless Options

I can sort of hear a lot of people groan at the options I listed above. I can understand how some people may not like to eat beans and lentils. Although they are high in protein and have a heavier texture than vegetables, they taste really nothing like meat. For many people transitioning to veganism, “fake meats” are good options because they’re imitations that are designed to have textures similar to meat.

4. Tofu

plate of seared tofu with broccoli

Tofu is the classic meat replacement. They are made with soybeans which are famous for having a complete protein profile, making tofu a complete source of protein. In addition to protein, they are a good source of vitamin B1, copper, zinc, and manganese.

They don’t taste like much on their own, but their selling point is that they absorb flavors really well. So put some blocks of tofu in with your stir-fry and it will soak up all the juice. Have a beef and broccoli recipe? Make tofu and broccoli instead!  

5. Seitan

stir fried seitan with vegetables

Seitan is made from the gluten of wheat, it is high in protein and has a chewy texture that soaks up juices and flavors from other things really well. Also known as “wheat gluten,” they can often be found canned in Asian grocery stores as “vegetarian duck” or something of that sort.

They can also be found in natural food stores such as Whole Foods Market. Depending upon the flavors it comes in, you can slice it up and use it in stir-fry and any other recipe that calls for meat.

6. Meatless Beef

Check out my vegan beef & broccoli recipe HERE

I was never a big fan of beef before going vegan, but I really love the vegan beef substitutes available on the  market today. I have tried a good number of them, and if you’re looking for the best vegan burgers, look no further than the Gardein Black Bean Burgers. They taste nothing like beef, but they’re good in their own black-bean sort of way… tasty, substantial, and filling.

There are other types of beef substitutes too, here are some of the popular brands and their beefless products:

Gardein – Black Bean Burgers
Gardein – Beefless Tips
Gardein – Beefless Ground
Gardein – Meatless Meatballs
Beyond Meat Burgers

7. Meatless Chicken & Turkey

When you go vegan and your favorite food was chicken, it can be hard…until you realize there are vegan chicken products that taste damn good. Meat-free chicken burgers, sliders, and strips to put in your favorite chicken recipe.

My favorite brand for these meatless products is Gardein, I’ve eaten their products probably a hundred times, and they continue to impress. Tofurky is another good one, they even have their own line of “roast turkey,” which can be useful for vegans during the holiday seasons. Here are some of the vegan chicken products you can find on the market today: 

Gardein – Orange Crispy Chick’n
Gardein – Crispy Chicken Strips
Gardein – Chick’n Sliders

Tofurky – Roast

8. Meatless Pork

Even before I went vegan I always felt bad eating pork, maybe it’s got something to do with how cute pigs are. They taste alright imo, but honestly I feel vegan pork options taste better, and bonus… no guilty feelings. Here are some of the vegan pork substitutes you can find on the market today:

Gardein – Porkless Bites

Light life – Meatless Bacon

Yves – Veggie Bolona

9. Meatless Seafood

I haven’t had much vegan seafood except Gardein’s fishless fillets and crabless cakes. If you’re a big seafood fan, I heavily recommend you try them. The first time I’ve had the fillets, I thought they were real fish.

It really does have a fishy smell and taste to it, and the batter is so crispy on the outside. The crabless cakes are incredible too, crispy on the outside and creamy vegan crab flakes on the inside. Check out my other post where I reviewed them:

Gardein – Fishless Fillets
Gardein – Crabless Cakes

10. Vegan Sausages

Do you know what actually goes into a regular hot dog? Maybe you don’t really want to know, but it’s all the gross stuff from an animal: eyes, beaks, anuses, penises…etc They taste damn good because they’re heavily seasoned, but so are vegan sausages and they’re incredibly delicious.

Tofurky is my favorite brand, their sausages are phenomenal. They’re meaty and when you bite into it you really feel as though you’re eating a real sausage, it certainly satisfy all my cravings for meat after eating a few of them. Here are a few good brands for vegan sausages:

Field Roast – Sausages (Italian, Mexican Chipotle, Smoked Apple Sage)

Conclusion

Nowadays there are so many companies coming out with vegan meat substitute products, you can usually find these products in any supermarket, there’s usually a small section devoted to vegetarian/vegan products. If you’ve tried a few of these meatless products and didn’t like it, I ask that you do not give up, the tastiness of each product can vary drastically from brand to brand.

I have suggested the brands that I personally find palatable, so I hope you give those a whirl if you’re interested in trying out a vegan diet.

Personally I try to fill my diet with natural, whole, plant-based foods. The first 3 options I suggested (beans, lentils, chickpeas) are all healthy foods – they are low in fat, high in fiber, and high in vitamins and minerals.

The other stuff like meatless burgers and sausages, they are almost always high in fat and sodium, it’s best to have them on an occasional basis otherwise they can contribute to weight gain.

I hope this post have given you some ideas on what you can eat instead of meat. If you’re vegan or new to veganism, please leave your thoughts and questions down below in the comment box, I will respond to everyone. If you liked this article, please give it a like and share it with your friends on social media.

4 thoughts on “What to Eat Instead of Meat? (10 Tasty Meatless Options)

  1. Debbie says:

    I am a meat eater and am trying to incorporate less meat into our diet. You give great ideas. Those meat substitutes look really interesting, I’m definitely gonna give them a try when I have the chance. I love chicken, especially in burgers, whats the best substitute for that do you think?

    • Kent says:

      Hey there, before I went vegan my favorite meat was chicken too. I like Gardein’s Chick n’ sliders, they’re these little “chicken” burgers, it has satisfied my cravings for chicken many times and I think you should try that one. Another good one from Gardein is their 7-grain tenders, a great substitute for “chicken strips.”

  2. tomochi says:

    Hi Kent! Thanks for creating this page. I have been looking around for some alternatives to meat, and I am glad I have managed to stumble upon your page – lots of good articles to read. I love beans, but I hate the fact that they make me gassy. Do you have any advice for me on how to avoid getting gassy from beans? Perhaps I need to choose a different brand, or maybe I should use different seasoning. Whatever it is, I would like to hear from you.

    • Kent says:

      Hey Tomochi, to fart less eating beans I’d suggest you first stay away from canned beans, use dried beans instead. Make them more digestible by soaking them for at least 8hrs before cooking them, this will eliminate oligosaccharides which have been said to disrupt digestion. Also it’s a good idea to start with eating a smaller amount of beans, then increase the amounts slowly over time, this way your body will adjust to the food and better deal with it.

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