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Consumers are more knowledgeable than ever when it comes to nutrition, so it’s no surprise many are opting to remove meat from their diets. Whether you’re driven by health or animal welfare, it’s important to maintain dietary balance in the absence of a primary protein source. Fortunately, meat alternatives and dairy-free alternatives have come a long way since the days of plain tofu. Vegans and vegetarians have a wealth of options, from core cooking ingredients to popular food imitators. Here’s a guide to ease the transition.

The Basics

For many, cooking is one of life’s little joys. Things can get tricky when trying to prepare traditional recipes without using meat products, however. Consider switching out staples for these tasty options instead.

Soy Substitutes

Soy meat alternatives are some of the most common and fulfilling choices available. They provide protein, iron and vitamin B, per Soyfoods Association of North America. Consider these:

  • Textured vegetable protein: TVP is a great fat-free substitute for ground meat. Brands like Bob’s Red Mill meet kosher and gluten-free requirements, too.
  • Tempeh: Avoid cholesterol and enjoy mild flavor with this popular placeholder. Lightlife offers a range of vegan products, each kosher, organic and non-GMO certified.
  • Tofu: Versatile and high in protein, tofu remains a go-to for meat-free eaters.

Soy-Free Fare

Sensitive to soy? There are still plenty of yummy meat alternatives. One of the most widely-used is Seitan, a wheat-based replacement with great texture and plentiful protein. Check out manufacturers like WestSoy and Pacific Foods for takes on this vegan versatility, sans soy.

Innovative Imitations

Just because you’ve gone vegan doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the convenient cuisine. A spate of snacks and prepared foods are available to save you time and make life easier in the kitchen.

Soy-Based Solutions

Mimicking the look, taste and feel of meat isn’t easy—even less so when you’re craving formed foods like links and patties. Try some of these animal-friendly meat alternatives on for size, as recommended by PETA’s official website:

  • Gardein: Missing chicken? Craving fish filets? Gardein has created a wide variety of classic favorites, ready to heat and eat or incorporate into your own dishes.
  • Tofurky: Whip up sandwiches, hot dogs and even holiday roasts without the meat, thanks to the ever-popular Tofurky. As a bonus, most products are also kosher and GMO-free.
  • Beyond Meat: When you want that authentic meaty experience, try Beyond Meat. Pea-based protein powers these animal-friendly burgers, sausages and chicken strips.

No-Soy Noshing

Innovation hasn’t forgotten about the soy-free set, so don’t fret when you’re searching for simple meal options. Look for these brands for great taste without the no-nos:

  • Field Roast: From savory meatloaf, roasts and sausages to wings and corndogs, Field Roast holds the soy and brings the flavor.
  • Amy’s: For a diverse brand that’s easy to find in most supermarkets, consider Amy’s. From spicy Mexican flavors to exotic Asian dishes, you’re sure to find soy-free vegan goodies that’ll appeal to your family.
  • Hilary’s: Trying to avoid nuts, corn and gluten as well? Try Hilary’s Root Veggie Burger, made from whole-grain millet, root vegetables and flavorful spices for a real treat, minus the meat.

Remember, vegan eating doesn’t have to be a chore. With the wide variety of meat alternatives on the market these days, mealtime should be anything but drab.


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