MEAT YOUR MAKER | 5 Plant-Based Meat Brands
I hate to admit it, but there’s nothing quite like meat.
I don’t mean in terms of enjoyment, taste, nutrition or desirability; simply that the texture, substance and, in some ways, the convenience of meat can be hard to replace.
Even the most ardent plant-based man would have to admit that there is something deeply enjoyable about sinking your teeth into something solid, an experience that no chickpea burger, marinated tofu or abundant salad could ever replicate.
It’s not that we want meat, it’s just that the physical texture and experience is conspicuously missing from a plant-based diet.
We can use tofu, add beans, grill veggie patties and get everything we nutritionally need from a plant-based diet but there has never been a sumptuous, satisfying meat-like substitute that real men can indulge in...until now.
The market for plant-based ‘meat’ is expanding rapidly. Even Trader Joe’s and Target are producing their own lines of meat substitutes, and not some crumbly, tasteless burger either. Chicken, beef, sausages, even bacon, are all getting a plant-based makeover.
This wide selection of meat-like products allows you to completely commit to your plant-based lifestyle without having to compromise taste and texture in your burgers, hot dogs, meatballs and more
While I’m not a huge fan of meat substitutes, I recognize that many people love them and that they provide a readily-available and comparable replacement for meat products. So here are my top five plant-based ‘meats’ for you to check out and try:
TRADER JOE’S PROTEIN PATTIES
Pretty much every burger manufacturer, (especially Burger King!) has created a marketing campaign around the notion that “real men eat burgers”. Trader Joe’s Protein Patties are exactly that: rich, chewy, hearty burgers - except they aren’t made with cholesterol-laden, artery and bowel-clogging beef, they’re made with oat fiber and pea protein. Boasting 0.65oz (18g) of protein - comparable to the 0.6oz (17g) average for its meat-based counterpart - Trader Joe’s Protein Patties give you that rich meaty taste, a fairly similar texture, but none of the heaviness when you have five ounces of beef weighing you down.
MORNING STAR VEGGITIZERS
Morning Star Farms is a brand you should get to know! Available at Target, Walmart and through Instacart, Morning Star Farms offers a wide range of products, from burgers and sausages to mince and - one of my favorites - buffalo wings. Perfect for dipping, great for a snack or side, or use them as the protein component of your main meal. As with Trader Joe’s patties, they carry a healthy dose of protein for real men and less than half the fat of their chicken equivalents. A quick browse of the contents also shows that they are made mostly of real ingredients, not chemicals and artificial colors, so they’re delicious and healthy.
LIGHTLIFE JUMBO SMART DOGS
Who doesn’t love dogs?! Whether it’s at the ball game or a backyard barbecue, Lightlife’s Smart Dogs stand up to the real thing in every way. Tasty, firm yet tender, they are the perfect plant replacement to the real thing.
Again made with 100 percent natural ingredients, they are incredibly low in fat and far healthier than their meaty counterparts. As with regular dogs though, they are quite high in sodium, so while they are better for you in many ways, as with all vegan alternatives don’t think you can eat ten times as many just because they’re plant-based!
BEYOND MEAT’S BEYOND BEEF
Bolognese, chili, lasagne, meatballs, burgers… there are so many dishes you can create with minced beef. But what’s the plant-based equivalent? Textured vegetable protein (TVP) has been around for many years, and while it’s okay in more saucy dishes, such as pastas, it doesn’t hold together. TVP is also tasty, but not all that comparable with its carnivore’s counterpart.
Beyond Meat is revolutionary - plant-based meat that binds and even bleeds like the real thing (don’t worry, it’s only beet juice!). Beyond Beef finally brings a direct substitute for beef mince, just as tasty, just as versatile but - as with so many veggie options - so much healthier. The average ounce of beef mince contains 9g of fat (about 30 percent). Beyond Beef contains less than 20 percent, as well as zero cholesterol, compared to beef’s 7 percent, more protein and 10 times more iron, so its an excellent choice for those real men looking to build muscle mass, train harder and recover faster - ironically, even more so than real beef mince.
SOL CUISINE HOT N' SPICY CHIK’N WINGS
With a big boost of B12, Sol Cuisine’s Hot n' Spicy Chik’n Wings should almost be prescribed to every plant-baser! Super-tasty and incredibly convenient, they’ll cause a stir in your stir fry, bring spice to your salad, or turn your burrito from boring to bueno in under 10 seconds!
B12 is essential when cutting out meat (see my blog all about it here), so when you’re getting a massive 50 percent of your recommended daily intake (RDI) from one hot, spicy, succulent serve, you know you’re onto a good thing!
I prefer to make my meals from scratch, or as close as. I like using fresh ingredients, real vegetables and nutritious recipes, but there’s nothing at all wrong with indulging in pre-made products such as these a couple of times a week. Opt for products with nutrition boosts - added iron or vitamin B12 for example - and check the sodium and fat content, and for ingredients you don’t understand; some can be full of rubbish that is far from healthy or nutritious.
Balance, as always, is key. Pick up some of these products and give them a try for yourself. Keep a few options handy in your freezer or refrigerator for last-minute meals, or treat meat-eating guests or family members to a really tasty plant-based substitute. They often won’t believe it’s not meat and it could even make them join you on your Real Men Eat Plants 30-Day Challenge or longer plant-based journey.
Bryan is a 'self-taught' plant-based activist, discovering the benefits of eliminating animal products from his diet over 10 years ago. Since that time, he has advocated not only for a social shift in dietary and environmental awareness but also to reverse the construct that meat consumption is somehow tied to manliness and machismo.
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