8 Best Vegan Meat Substitutes

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by Alena Schowalter
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Check out these awesome vegan meat substitutes — whether you wanna eat less meat or are already vegan/vegetarian! Easy to find ingredients plus recipes for you to try.

Taking on a meat-free diet but don’t know where to start? We got you covered! 

We’ll outline different types of vegan meat substitutes, from soy to pre-made vegan meats. And we’ll share our tips for infusing a juicy, powerful flavor in your vegan meats.

After reading this article, check out our vegan recipes for meat lovers!

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Why eat less meat?

Tips for getting the best flavor

To make these substitutes taste great, you’ve got to season them well! We recommend marinating these substitutes for the best flavor. Marinating foods gives it a chance to soak up all the flavors and seasonings.

As for seasonings themselves, using umami-rich ingredients like soy sauce and tomato paste will help a lot (liquid smoke can be used for that bacon flavor). 

Try out different recipes and see what seasoning combos you like the best!

Vegan Meat Substitutes on a table: beans, tempeh, tofu, mushrooms

8 Best Vegan Meat Substitutes 

Tofu

Tofu (also known as bean curd) is very versatile and has a mild flavor. It can absorb sauces and marinades well, which makes it a great meat substitute! We usually use tofu in stir-fry dishes, fried rice, salads, and Asian cuisine in general. 

Make sure to remove all the excess water before cooking! You can saute, fry, bake, and grill tofu with any seasonings you like. Check out how to easily pan-fry tofu for your next dish and be sure to try our tofu bolognese!

Tempeh

Tempeh is made of fermented soybeans and usually sold in rectangular “patties”. It has a firmer texture, so it’s great to use as sliced or crumbled meat. We recommend marinating tempeh before cooking for ultimate flavor!

Soy curls

Soy curls are a dehydrated soy product. They easily rehydrate in hot water/broth and become tender and delicious! You can also bake, saute, or fry them to create a chicken-like texture. Soy curls are great because of how easily you can add them to stir fry dishes. 

Make sure you don’t keep them in liquid for too long, or they will become mushy!

Seitan

Seitan is a popular meat substitute made from wheat gluten. It has a chewier texture, but the proper preparation can make it nice and tender. 

Seitan is usually sold in pre-made forms, but you can make it yourself if you want! 

It’s super versatile—you can make roast beef, meatloaf, chicken, and BBQ pork from it. 

Jackfruit

Jackfruit may sound like a strange option for vegan meat, but its texture is perfect for mimicking pulled pork! Some stores sell pouches of jackfruit mixed with sauce, but you can buy canned jackfruit as well.

Drain and rinse the jackfruit, and shred with a fork for the pork-like texture. Then simmer it in your sauce of choice (BBQ sauce is great) until tender. 

Jackfruit can also be prepared for tacos and curries, too! 

Mushroom 

Mushrooms have that meaty texture, perfect for stir-fries, burgers, and even steaks! Oyster mushroom clusters are lovely for creating juicy steaks. And portobello mushroom caps can be grilled and served on a bun for a vegan burger. 

You can also use finely chopped mushrooms (like button or cremini) in dishes like meatloaf.

Just be sure to season well and let the mushrooms release excess moisture as they cook!

Beans

Beans such as chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, and lentils are a great source of protein! When mashed, they create a great base for burgers, meatballs, or tacos. 

Beans are super affordable and easy to find, so we love stocking up on them (and you can, too!) Don’t be afraid to get creative with beans — it can turn out delicious. 

Pre-made vegan meat

When you want something quick and convenient, there are vegan meats available in stores like Impossible Meat and Beyond Meat. 

These products are made to mimic the taste, texture, and appearance of traditional meat (it’s kind of wild how accurate it is!) You can find ground meat, patties, sausages, chicken, meatballs, and more nowadays!

All you have to do is season as you like, follow package instructions, and cook similar to traditional meat. 

Related Recipes

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Hi, I'm Alena Schowalter — a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with my husband, I founded nutriciously in 2015 and have been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages toward a healthy plant-based diet. I enjoy discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature, and creating new recipes. Read more about us here.

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