Vegetarian Substitutions for Meat

Replacing meat with vegetarian alternatives in even the most traditional meat-based recipes has become surprisingly easy. A wide range of meat-substitute vegetarian products are now available at natural foods stores and neighborhood supermarkets:

  • Tofu: A smooth, creamy food that has little flavor or odor. It picks up the flavor of whatever you cook it with. To replace meat with tofu in recipes, cut up firm or extra-firm tofu into cubes and stir-fry it. You can also cut tofu into chunks or slabs, marinate it, and cook it.

  • Tempeh: Made with whole soybeans, so it has a chunkier texture than tofu. It works well crumbled and used in place of meat in such recipes as sloppy Joes, chicken salad, and chili. You can also grill it, barbecue it, bake it, broil it, or use it in chunks in stews and casseroles.

  • Seitan: A chewy food made from wheat gluten, the protein component of wheat. Seitan is used in a variety of dishes, typically in strips or chunks.

  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP): A soy product that can take the place of ground meat in such foods as taco and burrito filling, chili, sloppy Joe filling, and spaghetti sauce.

  • Bulgur wheat: Rolled, cracked wheat. It has a nutty flavor and can be used in place of ground meat in foods.

  • Veggie burgers, franks, and cold cuts: You can now find a vegetarian version of just about every processed meat. Hankering for some old-fashioned bologna or a hotdog? You can find a soy version that tastes and looks very much like the real thing.

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