Meat Substitutes

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP):

Made from defatted soya flour with a high protein content. It is highly nutritious and mainly found in the form of mince or chunks which can be added to meals in place of meat. It is inexpensive, quick to cook and has a ‘meaty’ consistency. Dried TVP keeps well which means that you can buy it in bulk, keeping costs even lower.


tofu.jpgAlso known as bean curd, it’s made from a mixture of soya beans, water and a coagulant. There are two types of tofu: soft and firm. Firm tofu is mainly used in savoury dishes whereas soft (or silken) tofu is better for sweet dishes. Tofu is a high protein, low fat food and is relatively cheap to buy although it is possible to make your own. On it’s own, it has very little taste but will absorb any flavours added to it making it very versatile. The texture of firm tofu can be improved by freezing it before cooking.


Mostly made from cooked, fermented soya beans, though there are other types. Like TVP, it is very nutritious and high in protein. It has a firm texture and a savoury, nutty flavour. Usually found in the form of slices or ‘rashers’ and also can be added to meals. It is more expensive than other meat alternatives but can be cheaper if home made.


wheat.jpgAlso known as ‘wheat meat’ because of it’s similarity to meat in look and texture. It is simply wheat flour with the starch removed and can be bought as such (vital wheat gluten) or made at home. It holds flavours really well and can be cooked in many different ways. It’s easy to make a large batch and freeze until needed.


jackfruit.jpgA relative newcomer to meat substitutes in the West although the fruit has obviously been around a long time! It’s a tropical fruit which, when young and green, has a mild flavour and  a ‘stringy’ meat consistency, making it a satisfying alternative to meats such as ‘pulled pork’ and poultry. It is high in fibre, non processed and can take on almost any flavour. It can be bought cheap at many Asian supermarkets or online.


mushrooms.jpgA surprising addition to the list you may think but a very popular brand of meat substitutes is made from fermented fungus! Mushrooms are rich in vitamins and minerals and don’t contain fat or carbohydrates. They have that ‘umami’ flavour which enhances any dish and can taste ‘meaty’. Larger varieties such as Portobello have a ‘meaty’ texture with a rich, earthy taste. They can also be grown at home.

V Meat:

This is a new one to me! If you like seitan or have never tried it because of an intolerance to gluten, then this might be worth looking into. It’s main ingredient is oats but you need to make sure you get the gluten-free variety. V meat isn’t commercially available, it is the brainchild of a gluten intolerant vegan who runs a recipe website. Her aim was to produce a ‘mock meat’ with the same characteristics as seitan. Click here for more info.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are so many ways to substitute meat in cooking, not to mention the availability of numerous commercial products!

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