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Meat substitutes, such as tofu or soy protein, have existed since the 1960s and often resemble the meat they are replacing. However, plant-based meat alternatives have become more common on your grocery store shelves and often do not resemble meat. As they are more widely available, you might be curious about adding them to your menu rotation. Here are a few suggestions for trying a meat substitute:

Consider making your own. Often these plant-based “meats” are made of familiar ingredients such as cauliflower, beans, mushrooms, or tofu. You can make your dishes meatless by substituting things like chicken for chickpeas. Or you can try making your meatless burger by combining vegetables you enjoy with black beans and rice.  This lentil burger from Celebrate Your Plate is easy and full of simple ingredients.

Read the labels on meatless products carefully. Meatless products are often higher in fiber, calcium, and iron compared to traditional meat. Some of these products may also be hiding more sodium than regular meat. Also, some meat alternatives are prepared with coconut oil, which is higher in saturated fat. When looking at the label you will need to consider your personal health goals. Whatever your nutritional goal maybe, be an informed consumer and check the label.

Trying a variety of brands and products may help you find a meat substitute you enjoy. Brands will have different tastes and textures.

Don’t forget other meatless options. Foods such as eggs, lentils, beans, tofu, nut butters, cottage cheese, edamame, noodles made from legume flour, and some mushrooms can also be a good substitute in dishes for meat.

Start with recipes you like and consider small swaps. Try lentils instead of meat in your favorite chili.  A meatless crumble that resembles the look and feel of ground beef could be used in a taco recipe. Trying a new substitute for a familiar food may help make the transition to meatless alternatives easier.

Written by: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Miami County. Barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Amanda Bennett, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Ohio State University Miami County. Bennet.709@osu.edu

Sources:

Curtain, F., & Amp; Grafenauer, S. (2019, October 30). Plant-based meat substitutes in the Flexitarian age: An audit of products on supermarket shelves. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6893642/

Is meatless meat worth a try?  (2022). Strive, Spring 2022, 4.

Lentil burgers. Celebrate your plate.  Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://celebrateyourplate.org/recipes/lentil-burgers

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