There are many alternatives to beef, chicken, pork, and seafood. Most provide you with as much or more protein, calorie for calorie, as any meat product, without the harmful saturated fats. They have different shapes and textures, perfect for many different dishes, and usually take on the flavor of whatever spice or sauce you are using. Try each one in different dishes until you find the right ones for you. Don’t give up just because one doesn’t meet your expectations. As you can gradually wean yourself off meat products, not only will your weight begin to drop, but you’ll also begin to notice many other beneficial effects.
- TVP – Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is a fibrous, dehydrated meat alternative that is usually made by a process that isolates the proteins from soy flour. TVP is often found in veggie foods like veggie burgers, hotdogs, and meat crumbles. TVP is usually sold as a dehydrated product that must be rehydrated before using. It is available plain or flavored and in granular or chunk form. TVP is also available as a prepared frozen product made to resemble ground beef. Some varieties of TVP contain salt, flavorings, and other additives, so be sure to read the labels carefully before purchasing. Dehydrated textured vegetable protein keeps well at room temperature for up to 6 months if stored in an airtight container. Rehydrated TVP should be kept refrigerated and used within 5 days. TVP is available in natural food stores and well-stocked supermarkets.
- Soy Curls – Soy curls are another great meat substitute which is made from the whole (non-GMO) soybean. They are an excellent source of protein and high in fiber. They simply need to be rehydrated before use and may be seasoned in a variety of ways. Try them with beef gravy, in “chickenless” salads or in barbecue sauce. They are available in some health food stores or at Butlerfoods.com.
- Tofu – Tofu is a curd made from soybeans. Rich in protein and often fortified with calcium, this meat substitute can be found in most grocery and health food stores. Firm tofu is dense and solid and can be cubed and used in soups, stir fried, or grilled. Firm tofu is higher in protein, fat, and calcium than other forms of tofu. Soft tofu is good for recipes that call for blended tofu. Silken tofu is a creamy product and can be used as a replacement for sour cream in many dip recipes.
- Tempeh – Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food. It is a chunky, tender soybean cake. Whole soybeans, sometimes mixed with another grain such as rice or millet, are fermented into a rich cake of soybeans with a smoky or nutty flavor. Tempeh can be marinated and grilled and added to soups, casseroles, or chili. It can also be grated for a “chickenless” salad
- Seitain is also known as “wheat meat”, because it is the “meat” of the wheat grain. It is a very versatile meat alternative. It can be used in ground meat recipes, but it can also be sliced thin enough to use as a substitute in elegant veal and chicken dishes. Seitan can be made from scratch or from mixes such as Seitan Quick Mix, available at health food stores or online. Commercially prepared seitan is available in several forms, including White Wave brand available in most health food stores.