What is vegan meat? Sometimes called meat substitutes or meat alternatives, vegan meat is food that either mimics the look and taste of meat or replaces meat in a vegan or vegetarian recipe.
It might sound counterintuitive to seek out meat alternatives as a vegan or vegetarian, but it's not uncommon for vegans and vegetarians to remember and like the taste of meat.
While the concept may leave a bad taste in some purists' mouths, there are some amazing meat substitutes out there that may help you stick to your vegan diet when all you want is a giant, juicy hamburger.
If you have a soy allergy, you're probably used to looking at the lists of ingredients on the packaging. A lot of meat alternatives are made with soy, but not all of them contain it. You probably already know to avoid "soyrizo," but that doesn't mean every vegan chorizo substitute has soy.
- Pretending to Eat Meat as a Vegan or Vegetarian
- Meat Substitutes to Try in Your Recipes
- Vegan Meat Options that Mimic Beef
- The Rise of Fake Meat in the Laboratory
Pretending to Eat Meat as a Vegan or Vegetarian
Some people are quick to point out that searching for a soy-free vegetarian sausage recipe is somewhat ironic for someone who doesn't eat meat. However, people become vegans or vegetarians for all sorts of reasons. Here are just a few.
Not everyone salivates over the thought of a huge cheeseburger. For some vegans and vegetarians, their dietary choices stem from a dislike of meat. These individuals are probably the least likely to try to conduct an internet search for a vegetarian sausage patty recipe.
Just like some people don't like mushrooms and olives, others don't like beef and chicken. Fortunately, there are meat alternatives that don't feature any meat and are also free of soy.
One of the most popular reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle is the health benefits gained by focusing on plant-based protein and nutrition rather than animal-based nutrition. It seems like there's a new study every year that suggests eating red meat is bad for something or other in our bodies.
An analysis detailed by the University of Oxford in the UK in an article in 2021 showed an 18 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease with every 50 grams consumed per day of processed meats. The analysis also showed an increase of 9 percent for every 50 grams consumed per day of unprocessed meats like beef, lamb, and pork.
Those findings probably likely make finding a vegan corned beef recipe much more attractive, even if you're not currently pursuing a 100 percent vegan lifestyle. You can find soy-free deli slices from Louie's N.Y.C. Plant-Based Meats.
Believe it or not, some people adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet because they want to improve their physical performance or improve their capabilities on the track, field, pool, or gym.
It's common to assume that vegan diets are best kept out of the gym, but the legions of vegan bodybuilders out there can't be wrong when it comes to how they feel after making their vegan spam recipe for a pre-workout boost.
An article in the journal Nutrients called "Plant Proteins and Exercise: What Role Can Plant Proteins Have in Promoting Adaptations to Exercise" suggests:
"…a consistent pattern has appeared which suggests that when total daily protein intake is achieved at levels recommended for exercising athletes…, the source of protein does not function as a determining factor in the observed outcomes."
The quantity and veracity of such studies are still in their infancies, but initial findings seem to confirm the idea that plant proteins are excellent for health and fitness.
The cost of meat has skyrocketed in the past few years, and it's become much more financially sustainable for some families to pursue vegetarianism. A vegetarian complete protein like a bowl of beans and rice costs much less than a pound of beef or chicken.
Meat Substitutes to Try in Your Recipes
If you're not already familiar with meat substitutes, you might be surprised at the incredible variety of vegan and vegetarian meat substitutes that already exist and have existed for as long as people have been eating foods like jackfruit, lentils, and seitan.
All of these are excellent meat substitutions and contain no soy. Bear in mind, though, that if you're also eating gluten-free, seitan is made from wheat gluten. If you need to stay away from soy and wheat, Field Roast is a great vegan meat company to try.
One of the best jackfruit recipes vegan foods that are also soy-free is a jackfruit taco, which is loaded with high-quality nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Jackfruit tacos are particularly healthy when you toss some avocado slices on them. Jackfruit looks like shredded meat when it's prepared. It's a tropical fruit and has no soy.
Vegan Meat Options that Mimic Beef
One of the longstanding misconceptions about vegan and vegetarian lifestyles is that they're boring and don't feature any of the diverse recipes available to an omnivore. While that's quite untrue, a recent rise in vegan meat has allowed people of all sorts to try a vegan lifestyle.
You'll find options from companies like Worthington vegetarian foods, which makes plant-based deli slices that make you think you just walked into a famous deli in New York City. Just make sure you check the ingredients on each of their products to see if they use soy.
The best part about finding vegan and vegetarian deli meat is that you can pair the "meat" with any one of several vegan spread recipe options on a piece of vegan sandwich bread. You'll swear you've suddenly gone omnivore.
The Rise of Fake Meat in the Laboratory
Two of the most popular meat alternative companies today are Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. You'll find their products everywhere, from fast-food restaurants to store shelves. These two cutting-edge companies went to the laboratory to create their plant-based meat alternatives.
Do Beyond meat and Impossible meat have soy? Beyond meat is soy-free. Impossible meat has soy.
While each of these companies started out making beef alternatives with their technology, they've recently started branching out into other types of meat, mainly chicken. If you decide to try one of these meat alternatives, be aware that some mild controversy exists on their status as vegetarian or vegan.
It's worth heading to the official websites of those companies to learn more about how they make their food and whether you agree with their assertions about their meat substitutes. Impossible Foods, for example, uses microorganisms in the fermentation process used in their manufacturing.
- Meat analogs. You'll usually hear meat alternatives referred to as just that, but if you ever see the phrase "meat analog," that's just another way of describing a product that's designed to mimic the flavor, texture, and appearance of a meat product.
- Vegan seafood. Not only can you find meat alternatives for beef, chicken, and pork, but you can also find vegan and vegetarian seafood. A company that makes vegan seafood products that don't have soy is Sophie's Kitchen.
- Soy-free shrimp. If you're eating a vegan diet, always check the ingredients of your meat alternative. You might have found the best vegan seitan recipe vegan shrimp recipe ever, but the most popular ingredient in fake shrimp is tofu, so always look at the ingredients.
- Soy allergies. Many plant-based types of meat include soy, so if you're allergic or trying to avoid it, make sure you look at the ingredients when you ask, what is vegan lobster? (yes, vegan lobster is a thing!)