The main challenge when going vegan that most people face is knowing their food options. Whether you choose to go vegan to live a longer and happier life, or because you have an ethical reason to do so, it can be an intimidating lifestyle for a newbie. Knowing how to recreate your favorite foods and learning what the best options are insofar as meat replacements will aid you in keeping with your diet and not straying from the vegan path.
Vegans are like vegetarians in the way that they refrain from eating meat. Vegans take it one step further, however, and refrain from consuming any animal products whatsoever. This includes eggs, other dairy products, and honey. A vegan diet consists of fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, legumes and whole grains. For a first-timer, this can be a difficult lifestyle to follow. Most meals include an animal product of some kind. By finding replacements for “bad” ingredients and creating meals that you find delicious, you may discover that you don’t even miss meat, not even for a second.
There are several options available to you when you look to replace the meat part of your meal. The most common replacement is tofu. While it has been labeled as being “bland” or “tasteless,” it is actually designed with the idea that flavor will be added to it, not that it will, or should, add flavor to a dish. Think of tofu as a blank canvas. You have the ability to make it taste like anything you want it to taste like. Tofu is available in different textures, too, so it is incredibly versatile. The firm and extra firm varieties are favorites to use as substitutes for meat in dishes like stir-fry, or you could prepare it to be the main star of the show. The softer forms of tofu are great for adding extra protein to soups or for when you need to add a bit of creaminess to a dish.
Believe it or not, some vegetables can also be swapped out for meat. This is especially important to know if you have an allergy to soy. Eggplant is another popular meat replacement. It has a meaty and rich flavor that can be utilized in recipes such as hearty parmigiana or meatballs. Mushrooms are also a great go-to for their meat-like flavor. Use a mushroom cap for a burger or sauté them up and serve them on a roll for a delicious French Dip, vegan-style.
The most important thing to remember when going vegan is to find a replacement that’s right for you. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to try something new. Once you have a few new recipes under your belt, you’ll forget you ever even ate meat in the past.