Faux meat products can be even pricier than their animal counterparts, but are still very attractive to those who are determined to follow a plant-based diet, but miss the taste and texture of meat. Making your own can be less expensive but still full of texture, flavor and all kinds of solid vegetarian nutrition.
Some vegetarian ingredients are “meatier” than others, earning them the distinction of being acceptable meat substitutes. Even after cooked, portobello mushrooms have a chewy texture and aren’t too moist, allowing for use as “burgers” when cooked, seasoned and placed on a bun. Beside portobellos, lentils, black beans and chickpeas can be used as a base for burgers, each imparting a chewy, satisying texture for those who miss the “hamburger experience.” Faux burgers made with beans won’t hold together by themselves; instead, look for recipes with rolled oats, egg and/or bread crumbs so that burgers keep their shape.
Don’t forgo any of the great flavors of meatloaf like tomato, onion or cheese in a vegetarian meatloaf. To replace the beef, use ground lentils, pinto beans and whole grain bread crumbs or try textured vegetable protein (TVP), which is often used as a meat substitute and makes the texture of any vegetarian loaf approximate the ground beef it is replacing. As can be done with ordinary meatloaf, try shaping it into balls and baking them as meatballs.
Morning bacon and eggs might be tough to give up, but not so much if there is a vegetarian alternative that is protein-rich and crispy, and that is cut into baconlike strips. Tempeh is a soybean-based, dense, mildly flavored meat substitute that crisps up and browns when pan-fried in thin pieces. Using a little soy sauce gives tempeh the saltiness of bacon, while maple syrup imparts the flavors of breakfast bacon to the meat substitute. Adding a little liquid smoke during preparation makes tempeh seem that much more like a rich, hearty smoked bacon.
Ground Beef Crumbles
Their dark brown color and chewy texture makes rehydrated TVP crumbles a convincing substitute for ground beef crumbles. Flavored for the role, they can be used in tacos, in casseroles or as part of pasta dishes. If the TVP has not been rehydrated, be sure to cook it in water before using. In either case, fry over low to medium heat with some soy sauce, salt and pepper until the shreds of soy have cooked up to a firmness that resembles ground beef.
References and ResourcesSFGate.com; Hold the meat -- pass the portobellos; 2006; Lynne Char Bennett
Bob's Red Mill; Textured Vegetable Protein
ResourcesExraPoundCake; Meatless Monday: Homemade Veggie Burgers; 2010
ChefInYou; Lentil and Bean "Meatloaf"; 2009
VegWeb.com; Basic Vegan Ground Beef