The world of plant-based meats continues to evolve, becoming more popular by the day. The problem with plant-based meats is the amount of processing and preservatives they require. Swapping out antibiotic-rich meat for processed, packaged, plant-based meat is not a healthy switch. It’s actually better to choose whole food options that deliver essential nutrients to the body.
Some people want to eat less meat while others abstain from meat for cruelty-free reasons. More recently, people have informed themselves on the benefits of plant-based eating and the harmful effects of meat-centric diets. According to research studies, people who follow plant-based diets have better heart health, cognitive function, and less inflammation. Compare that with people who consume meat and dairy and experience excess mucus production, hormonal imbalances, and a higher risk of cancer.
What About Vegan Meat Substitutes?
There are many issues with store-bought vegan meat substitutes. Unfortunately, people are under the impression that plant-based meats are healthier than regular meat. In reality, plant-based meat substitutes contain starches, refined flours, added sugars, natural flavors, preservatives, protein isolates, veggie powders, and unhealthy oils. They are not vegetables, and they are not healthy for you.
Whole food meat alternatives, however, are a completely different story. You can transform myriad vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and even certain fruits into meaty options. Because you are eating real, whole foods, you absorb the beneficial nutrients that they contain. Consume plants instead of the mutated versions of them that are far from their original state! Continue reading to learn about excellent whole food meat alternatives.
These meaty fungi are some of the best meat alternatives you can get. You can grill them, roast them, or sauté them, and they retain their texture. Some people grill portobello mushroom caps and use them in place of burger patties. Others roast king oyster mushrooms because they have a thick, edible stalk. In fact, you can marinate these mushrooms and cook them in stews for a great meat substitute.
Whether you want to use them as a ground beef replacement in a pasta sauce or chili, lentils are the answer. They are rich in protein and offer an earthy texture that holds up during the cooking process. The most popular use of lentils is to put them in soup, but you can also season and cook them like taco meat. They cook easily and any variety will get the job done.
This may be one of the strangest looking fruits you ever see in your life. If you purchase fresh jackfruit (commonly available at ethnic grocery stores), you’ll see that it is an enormous, green gourd-like fruit. The inside is what you’re after, though. The texture of jackfruit, after you cook it, is very similar to that of shredded meat. You can slow cook fresh jackfruit to make vegan pulled pork or vegan carnitas. It is rich in essential fiber and protein, in addition to antioxidants and beneficial vitamins and minerals.
The cauliflower wing craze is out of control, but many people love this option because cauliflower is an excellent whole food meat alternative. If you don’t want to bread the cauliflower and make it unhealthy, slice the entire head into thick “steaks.” You can marinate and grill or roast them just like a thick piece of meat. The best part is that they retain some texture, so you can eat them with a knife and fork. Don’t forget that you can make cauliflower rice if you want to reduce your carb intake.
If you are familiar with our cleanse approved recipe section (click here to view), you know we love walnut meat. You don’t even need to cook walnuts to transform them into meat. You can pulse them in the food processor with an assortment of spices and add them to lettuce leaves. Top them with freshly made salsa and avocado and you’ve got yourself an amazing, plant-based, raw vegan taco. You can also combine walnut meat with cauliflower rice for a healthy burrito bowl.
Because of their neutral flavor, chickpeas take on whatever flavor you like. They have a nutty texture that makes them excellent meat substitutes for soups, stews, curries, tacos, or pasta dishes. You can also blend them up and compress them into burger patties.
It is possible to follow a meat-free diet and still provide your body with the essential nutrients it needs. These are only some of the many whole food meat alternatives that exist. We encourage everyone to always choose whole food options over processed foods, which include plant-based meats.