Meat Alternatives, where to start?
There are so many reasons to go vegan and not everyone wants to give up that meaty texture and taste. So. Where do you start with meat alternatives?
Tofu gets a bad reputation for having a weird texture and a bland taste but once you know how to prepare and use it, it's a very versatile meat alternative. High in protein and calcium its been used in Asia for over a thousand years.
Start with a seasoned and firmer tofu like Taifun Smoked Tofu. It's flavoursome and ready to use straight out the packet with minimal fuss. A great way to introduce tofu to your diet. I like to cut it into chunky cubes for a smokey addition to a spice spiked creamy laksa.
If you want to be a bit more adventurous try Clearspot Original Tofu. It comes unflavoured so you can season it however you like to substitute chicken and seafood in recipes.
Once you've mastered tofu why not try tempeh?
Tofu is made from soymilk however tempeh is made using the whole fermented soybeans. It’s packed with protein, fiber, calcium, and vitamins and has a nutty flavour before you even start with the seasonings.
Simply slice it, dice it, or mince it up in a food processor and you are ready to go. Personally I like to slice season it to make tempeh bacon for a reuben or BLT or crumble it and cook it with garam masala and peas for a vegan keema curry.
Seitan is the closest to meat texture for most people however if you are gluten free or celiac this is sadly not for you.
There are lots of different ways of making this which makes it an extremely versatile meat alternative. Additions and flavours can be added to the mix to give you a more chicken like taste or beef or pork.
In store you'll find a few different seitan based produces such as Sgaia's streaky bacon, Faceplant Foods Square-Go lore sausage and even tins of seitan based mock duck. You'll even find all the ingredients your need to try making your own in store and online. yum!
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
TVP was one of the very first things I used as a meat alternative. It's dehydrated soy which comes in lots of different shapes and sizes but the most useful (I find) is the TVP mince.
Re-hydrate it in a flavourful stock or directly into your sauce or stew and it will soak up all those delicious flavours while adding a bit of texture to your dish. Think of it as minced beef or pork, so perfect for Shepherd's pie, burgers and meatloaves.
Jackfruit has become quite well known and popular over the last couple of years, and for good reason as it's an excellent meat alternative.
Jackfruit is a large spiky tropical fruit, but in its unripe state its texture matches pulled pork. Flavour wise it's mildly fruity on its own making it a blank canvas for seasoning and flavour. I like to use it instead of shredded chicken in a korma, as a substitute for carnitas in tacos or smothered in BBQ sauce for a good old pulled pork sandwich.
This just scratches the surface of meat free alternatives for people wanting to cut down on meat and try some simple swaps. There is also a whole range of mushrooms, lentils, beans and vegetables that can be used to make delicious and satisfying meat alternatives. There is something for everyone wanting to try veganism.