What is Plant-Based Meat?
Let’s get straight to the point! Plant-based meat is a meat alternative with zero traces of any animal or animal byproducts. These are also known as meat substitutes, vegan meats, meat analogues, or meat alternatives.
Some people also call plant-based meats “fake meat”. But we don’t like that name! We don’t think plant-based meats deserve to be called fake. One of the earliest traces of plant-based meat is actually tofu - an eastern food staple in itself. Eating tofu can actually be dated all the way back to 206 BC–220 CE. Calling that fake would be an injustice!
Seasoning plays a huge role in making plant-based meats. Allspice, black pepper, chilli powder, paprika, brown sugar, salt, and pepper are pantry staples that can help make vegan meats taste closer to animal-based meats. Don’t forget the herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, and cumin.
If you’re not keen on making your own blend, you can actually grab some off the shelf. You’ll find that poultry and turkey seasonings can be vegan. Other meat-tasting alternatives are taco seasonings and chilli mixes. Marinades can even be made with soy sauce and miso paste!
Plant-Based Meat: Taste and Texture
Plant-based meats have come a long way. In fact, these days you probably won’t even notice if a meal is prepared with vegan meats and other plant-based alternatives. It’s all about seasoning and a whole lot of food science!
A lot of brands have spent years trying to make plant-based meats taste and look the same as their animal-based counterparts. You may have heard of Beyond Meat, Meatless, and The Very Good Butchers. You can say that they’ve made quite a name in the plant-based meat department!
These well-known names, as well as others in the market, have a great selection of vegan meats that taste like the real deal. From plump sausages with a bite, melts-in-your-mouth meaty plant-based grounds, and firm vegan steaks… You name it. There’s a delicious plant-based alternative out there.
Side by side, a slab of tofu will not magically taste like a pure beef meatball. Seasoned meats, however, are another thing! Salty, peppery, and smoky plant-based meats have a better chance of tasting as close as possible to their counterparts. We think this is a fairer comparison since you’re not likely to eat something totally unseasoned. Ingredients need to work together to give you the best-tasting meat alternatives out there.
How is Plant-Based Meat Made?
From wheat and grains to proteins and vegetables, plant-based meats can be made from many different ingredients.
One of the top ingredients used in plant-based meats? Soy. Lots of different types of plant-based meats, including tofu, tempeh, and seitan, are all made from soybeans. Many of these soy-based delicacies originated in eastern countries and have now made their way across the globe to be enjoyed by vegans everywhere.
Another key ingredient in plant-based meats? Mushrooms. With their naturally earthy and savoy taste, mushrooms make a great substitute for gamey meats and chewy treats like vegan jerky.
Other fruits, such as jackfruit, are also wonderful substitutes that can be made into meatballs, nuggets, and patties!
But, these are just a few examples of the many plant-based meat options available on our supermarket shelves. Because plant-based meats can be made from so many different ingredients, they are all prepared in different ways to ensure the tastiest possible results. This is why there is no one answer to the question ‘how is plant-based meat made?’.
Popular Plant-Based Meats
Vegan Chicken and Turkey
What’s Thanksgiving without turkey and what’s a proper barbeque without grilled chicken? You can get vegan options for just about any one of your poultry faves like soups, nuggets, wings, and burgers.
Because plant-based chicken contains lower levels of saturated fat, they are generally considered to be healthier than our cooked, clucky friends. They are also often made with fibre-rich and protein-rich ingredients like soy and wheat.
Did you know pork is the second most consumed meat in the entire world? That’s because pork can be made into many different meals. The same can now be said with vegan pork. Vegan pork is a wonderful gateway to meat alternatives. It can fry and sizzle like regular meat without the unhealthy amounts of animal fats making their way to your stomach.
Plus, they have the texture to boot, too! We’ve given many carnivorous friends some vegan bacon and they didn’t mind the substitution at all!
What is plant-based meat without a selection of great beef alternatives? Plant-based beef is probably the most popular and the closest option to real meat we have on offer. This is because of Beyond Meat! With the taste and texture of real beef in various burger, meatball, and sausage forms, Beyond Meat is likely the reason why plant-based options have made their way to fast-food menus across the world.
Our favourite thing about vegan beef? It’s the secret to enjoying a summer barbeque, vegan-style! You can even share some with your non-vegan family and friends. Who knows? You might change a couple of opinions about plant-based meats!
Who says we have to miss out on these salty and briny (in a good way) dishes? As for the most-consumed meats in the world, seafood doesn’t even break the top 10. Still, our seafood-loving friends are at risk of consuming bad fish. Fish, especially bottom-dwelling ones, are likely to come across chlorinated pesticides and mercury.
On top of being less likely to contain chemicals, people love vegan seafood because of its savoury saltiness and flaky texture. It’s a great way to get your healthy servings of omegas and proteins! Plant-based seafood can include your conventional vegan fish patties, plant-based crab cakes, and fishless flakes.
Are Plant-Based Meats Healthy?
Of course! Let us show you what we mean.
Protein is synonymous with meat. You know that, we know that, and brands know that. That’s why plant-based meats are often made using wheat gluten, soy, beans, chickpeas, peas, mushrooms, and oats - all protein-rich ingredients. You can even get a healthy amount of protein in jackfruit-based analogues. These protein-rich alternatives give you the nutrition with significantly less, and maybe even none, of the bad fatty fats. And speaking of…
Meats are the culprit of cholesterol! You may have heard about this at some point or another, but fatty, processed meats are often linked with certain cancers and they can certainly clog those arteries. So if it’s the taste you’re after, why not opt for the far superior plant-based meats instead? Sub out that slab of red meat with seasoned tofu, tempeh, seitan, and pulses. We bet you can’t even tell the difference!
Another case made against plant-based meat is that they lack iron. Well, let’s debunk that myth! Soy-based foods like tempeh can actually give you some iron. Beans, too! If you feel like you need more iron in your diet, pair that tofu steak with a side of leafy greens.
If it’s nutrition you seek, give the label a peek. Plant-based meats come aplenty and they all have unique nutritional content. A look at the packaging will give you a lot of insight about the food you’re getting.
To Wrap It All Up…
Plant-based has promise! In fact, almost half of the major food manufacturers (Nestlé and Unilever - to name a couple) have dedicated resources to study and develop plant-based foods.
By hitching a ride on the plant-based train, you’re already a step closer to tasty and healthy meals! As a versatile ingredient, plant-based meat can make delicious vegan meatballs, patties, soups, and chilli. Seriously, the sky’s the limit.
When in doubt, check them out. All the products you’ll find at PlantX are always going to be vegan-friendly. We urge you to try out different kinds of plant-based meats to see what you like and what you’ll love!