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Welcome to the wonderful world of meat alternatives. This is the part where us vegan nerds get overly excited about just what is possible with plant-based innovation and technology. Fancy a juicy burger, topped with crispy bacon? No problem. Desperate for your favorite deli meat sub? We’ve got you covered.
Some meat alternatives have been around for thousands of years, while others are just being developed as more and more people realize that there’s no need to eat animals to lead a healthy lifestyle and enjoy delicious protein-packed meals. Let’s dive in!
Why should we stop eating meat?
As we all know here at PlantX, there are plenty of reasons to cut meat from our diets. Meat production is hugely inefficient and unsustainable, taking up more land, water and resources than plant-based alternatives. Factory farming practices are brutal and inhumane, plus eating too much meat can have negative effects on our health.
But, in the West, meat has become our most relied-upon source of protein and other essential nutrients like iron, zinc and B vitamins. How can we follow a cruelty-free diet while still nourishing our bodies with everything they need to thrive?
And, sometimes you might just fancy that salty, savory succulence that meat provides - there is something undeniably craveable about a sizzling burger fresh off the grill, a rich meaty casserole, or the smell of crispy bacon in the morning. Fortunately, thanks to plant-based innovation, it’s completely possible to give up meat without missing out on flavor and nutrition.
What are Meat Alternatives?
Meat alternatives are meat-free, plant-based substitutes that can take the place of meat in a meal. They usually deliver a healthy dose of plant-powered protein, while being designed to satisfy any cravings for meaty flavors and textures.
In fact, vegan technology is now so advanced that long-time vegans might struggle to enjoy some meat alternatives, so closely do they resemble the real thing. At PlantX, we’ve got an amazingly versatile range of meat-free, protein-rich options, from dogs to deli meats, and burgers to bacon!
Let's take a look at some of the options…
What is Seitan?
Seitan, also known as vital wheat gluten, wheat meat or wheat protein, is made by rinsing away the starch in wheat dough, leaving behind only the protein-rich gluten. It is believed to originate in ancient China, eaten as a meat alternative by 6th-century Buddhist monks. It has an amazingly meaty texture and a mild, savory flavor, and today it is the base ingredient in lots of our favorite vegan meat alternatives. Seitan is a great soy-free alternative to soy-based meat alternatives such as tofu and tempeh.
Is Seitan Nutritious?
Even though it consists entirely of wheat gluten, seitan is rich in nutrients and low in carbs and fat. It is high in protein, with one serving delivering roughly the same amount of protein as an equivalent serving of chicken or beef, as well as essential minerals such as iron, phosphorus and selenium. However, Seitan is not considered a complete protein as it is missing the vital amino acid lysine. If you prefer seitan as a meat alternative, be sure to eat lots of beans to up your lysine intake!
To get you started on your seitan journey, here are some of our favorite PlantX seitan-based products. With 70% less fat and 60% less sodium than regular bacon, Upton's Naturals Seitan Bacon is the perfect way to start the day. For a delicious workday lunch or picnic treat, we love Sweet Earth Plant-Based Deli Slices. These tasty and convenient deli meats are perfect for subs, melts, or even a plant-powered charcuterie board! For savory snacking, nothing hits the spot better than Viana Veggie Snack Sausage; these meaty, chewy sausages are the perfect pick-me-up on the trail. And finally, Sweet Earth Traditional Seitan is a great way to get to know seitan in the kitchen. These high-protein seitan chunks are ready to be spiced, seasoned and served whichever way you fancy.
What is Pea Protein?
Made by extracting protein from yellow peas, pea protein is one of the newest and most environmentally-friendly forms of plant protein around. Pea crops are super sustainable, requiring fewer resources than wheat, corn and soy crops. And, unlike wheat and soy, allergies to peas are extremely rare. Sounds pretty pea-fect!
You might have noticed lots of pea protein powders popping up, but pea protein is also a fantastic ingredient for making meat alternatives. With an impressive nutrient profile, meaty texture and neutral flavor, pea protein is taking the vegan world by storm!
Is Pea Protein Nutritious?
Pea protein is low fat, low carb, and rich in protein and iron. It contains all 9 amino acids, making it a complete protein. However, it is relatively low in the amino acid methionine, which you can get from brown rice instead. Pea protein is also one of the most easily absorbed plant proteins, offering a nourishing dose of plant power with every bite! Pea protein helps build muscle mass, keeps you fuller for longer, and is thought to support heart health.
PlantX Pea Protein
The brand that put pea protein on the map in the world of meat alternatives was undoubtedly Beyond Meat. With its amazing mimicry of the juicy, succulent textures and rich, savory flavors of animal proteins, Beyond Meat proved that the humble pea is small but mighty! Why not try Beyond Sausage and see for yourself?
What is Jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a huge, knobbly, green tree fruit, native to India and grown throughout Southeast Asia, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It’s related to figs, mulberries and breadfruit and can grow to weights of 7kg up to a gargantuan 37kg! It has a subtle flavor and meaty, fibrous texture that is similar to pulled pork and beef. Because of this, giant jackfruit makes a magnificent meat alternative!
Is Jackfruit Nutritious?
Jackfruit contains some of just about every vitamin and mineral your body needs, as well as plenty of fiber and health-boosting antioxidants. It is higher in carbs and lower in protein than our other meat substitutes, but delivers far more protein than other fruits!
We’ve got plenty of delicious jackfruit-based meat alternatives to choose from. For quick and easy weeknight dinners, we love the delicious range of Upton’s Naturals Jackfruit for adding to tacos, burritos and fajitas in 3 savory flavors. For those of you keen to do some experimenting, Native Forest Tinned Jackfruit is mild and neutral, ready to be prepared and seasoned your way.
What is Tempeh?
Originating in Indonesia hundreds of years ago, tempeh is made from cooked, fermented whole soybeans molded into patties and sliced. It has a hearty, chewy texture and distinctive, tangy flavor from the fermentation - a bit like the deliciously sour tang of sourdough bread.
Is Tempeh Nutritious?
If you can get on with the funky flavor, tempeh might just become your new go-to meat alternative. It is low in fat and carbs and packed with protein, gut-boosting prebiotics, and a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals including calcium. Because it is so dense, tempeh provides more than twice the amount of protein of an equivalent serving of tofu. Plus, tempeh is a complete plant protein, containing all 9 amino acids your body needs for healthy bones and muscles.