If you’re a new vegan and used to be a huge meat eater (like we were), then giving up some of your favourite meat meals might be harder than you think.
Enter – vegan meats!
Why is vegan (fake) meat a good idea?
Even if you’re now repulsed by the thought of eating animal flesh (and have a desire to do the right thing by your health and the environment), sometimes this doesn’t stop the cravings. You might be feeling really hungry and want something ‘meaty to hit the spot, or perhaps you’ve run out of kitchen inspiration and can’t think beyond your past repertoire of meals (especially if you’re still cooking meat for others in the household). It could even be the familiar smell of sausages sizzling on the BBQ next door that gets you feeling extra wistful. So faking it is often a great option as it will mentally and physically give you a similar feeling to eating the real thing (without the remorse).
What’s it made of?
Magic? Sure tastes like it. Seriously though the main ingredients found in fake meat are various forms of super filling plant protein that packs a punch. So things like seitan (wheat protein), quinoa, chia seeds, soy and tofu, plus lots of other veggies and spices or things like potato starch and flour. Each product has different ingredients so make sure you check the labels – particularly if you’re allergic to soy or gluten. In some, but not all, cases there are also a few added ‘nasties’ like sugar, preservatives or artificial flavours, but on the whole most vegan food tends to be pretty health conscious with natural ingredients used wherever possible.
It’s processed though, isn’t that bad for you?
Of course wholefood plant-based food with nothing largely processed is going to be the best kind of diet, but on your path to this you might need a little help along the way. The general opinion of diet and medical experts is that as long as you don’t eat solely highly processed vegan food then it’s ok. The reason for this is that the risks to your health with real animal meat far outweigh those of vegan fake meats (even if you’re eating things like grilled chicken or fish over the really bad processed stuff like bacon). And this isn’t even taking the ethics or environmental issues into it. There’s a great article on why vegan diets are so good for you written by a doctor specialising in diet and nutrition (which you can read here), where the doctor plainly states he would prefer his patients to eat vegan meat any day over animal meat. Enough said!
And the winners are…
We touched on a few great frozen vegan meats in a previous post but here’s a more detailed run-down of our favourite brands out there doing the fake meat thing darn well.
Ah Linda, what a legend. Her legacy of being kind to animals and yourself lives on with this delicious range of vegan frozen meals such as these pies and the sausage rolls at the top of this post. Seriously amazing stuff. They also do quite good sausages – great with a breakfast fry-up and most of the range can be found at Woolies. Some of the other items are vegetarian and not vegan though, so be sure to check if it has the vegan heart logo on it first.
Garden + protein = Gardein. The range these guys have is AMAZING. They do everything from fake beef stir fry to chicken scallopini and barbecue wings, which all taste pretty close to the real deal. Found in our local IGA and health food stores like Taste Organic, we haven’t managed to try them all yet but our favourites so far are the chicken crispy tenders, beef burgers (check out my homemade number in the above photo), fishless filets and sweet and sour porkless bites. Delicious!
The Fry Family Food Company has a few great options like schnitzels and burgers but these rice protein and chia ‘chicken style’ nuggets are definitely the bomb. They will fool any unsuspecting child or hardcore carnivore, that’s for sure. The company is family-run and has a really nice story too. Most supermarkets have them in stock so what are you waiting for?
Closer to home is this cool chick from Sydney doing wonders as a vegan butcher. Her concoctions include fake pepperoni, various sausages, lasagne, smoky ‘bacon’ rashers, schnitzels and more; but her festive roast is the real winner. A tad pricey, it is sensational though so worth it for a special occasion. It’s also nice to be supporting a small local brand doing great things. She does have a few select stockists, otherwise order online or track her down at one of the markets around town (if you’re in Australia).
Some other Aussie brands worth mentioning too are: The Alternative Meat Co. – their beef, chicken and pork style strips are great for making kebabs or pork sliders (like above); Vegie Delights – the mince and vegie roast are particularly ace; and Herbisaurus which does a mean large sausage roll and a pretty good lasagne for when you can’t be bothered cooking.
Got a favourite fake meat? Tell us about it!