The 20 Food Companies Changing the Future of Meatless Monday
We can probably all remember a time when meat-free foods products consisted only of lifeless veggie patties, hermetically sealed slabs of seitan, and weird cans of “mock tuna.” But those days are over now. Thanks to public awareness campaigns like Meatless Monday, plant-based eating has now gone mainstream—and the food industry has responded!
Today, customers can have their pick of the litter when it comes to plant-based foods options. The selection is truly limitless. Companies, new and old, continue to push the boundaries, introducing plant-based versions of deli meats, turkey roasts, sausages, pepperoni, hot dogs, burgers, bacon, chicken wings—even Spam!
Yes, nearly any food you could ever imagine is being reformulated to exclude any animal products. And although the number of brands entering the space is growing every year, there are a few companies that are steadily moving the industry forward. Some have been around for decades, like Amy’s Kitchen and Boca Foods, while others are relative newcomers, like OmniFoods and Daring., but they all share the common goal of making it easier for ordinary people to eat less meat. And for that, we thank them. Check out the list below of the twenty companies continuing to change the future of Meatless Monday.
An iconic food pioneer dedicated to wholesome convenience foods, Amy’s Kitchen remains a trailblazer in the industry of vegetarian cooking. Founded in 1987 in Petaluma, California, Amy’s Kitchen was one of the first brands to show the public that meat-free foods can be dynamic and exciting. Although all of Amy’s products are not entirely plant-based, the company does pay special attention to sourcing organic and whole-grain ingredients when possible, making for a better alternative to traditional frozen burritos, pizzas, and entrées.
One could argue that Beyond Meat has completely reinvented the plant-based meat category. Their signature plant-based beef product is made primarily from five ingredients: pea protein, potato, coconut oil, salt, and beets (for color). The result is a patty that sizzles and browns when grilled or pan fried. Since their founding in 2009, Beyond Meat has expanded into a number of different categories, including sausage, nuggets, crumbles, and jerky.
There are imitators, and then there are originators. The Boca Foods Company began in 1979 with the vegetarian “Sun Burger,” which was one of the first frozen plant-based burgers of the time. Since then the company has expanded its product line to include vegan and non-gmo versions of its patties, but they will always remain one of the OGs of meat alternatives.
Don’t know about Daring.? They’re a relative newcomer to supermarket shelves, but they’re bringing some serious innovation to plant-based chicken. Unlike the ubiquitous “nugget,” Daring has a full line of plant chicken pieces and wings that look just like the real thing (seriously, they’d fool you). They come breaded or grilled in flavors like Cajun, original, lemon and herb, and Buffalo.
Dr’s Prager’s was founded by cardiothoracic surgeons who wanted to provide nutritious, delicious, and convenient frozen foods to help people adopt healthier eating habits. Well, to say they’ve succeeded is an understatement. Dr. Prager’s continues to deliver delicious meals that are easy to prepare and appeal to a broad audience. They sell all types of veggie patties, cakes, puffs, and “littles” which are designed in fun shapes for younger eaters. Although they’ve been around for a few decades, the brand continues to find new and innovative ways to spice up their offerings, like their Perfect Sliders and Super Greens Veggie Nuggets.
Although they offer everything from burgers to deli slices to plant-based queso, Field Roast is known primarily for their sausages, which are some of the tastiest around. Made from vital wheat gluten (the same plant-based protein found in seitan), the sausages cook up nicely on the griddle and come in a variety of flavors, like smoked apple and sage, garlic and fennel, smoky chipotle, and caramelized onion and beer.
Gardein is one of the major players in plant-based meat, offering everything from faux chicken and turkey to beef and pork to fish and chowders. But what sets them apart from competitors is their breadth of product styles, which includes nuggets, strips, cutlets, patties, sliders, crumbles, sausages, meatballs, and even stuffed turkey roasts. They’re continuously bolstering their product line, so there’s always something new to try.
Good Catch Foods
Good Catch Food’s signature product is fish-free tuna made from their trademarked six-plant protein blend, which includes pea, soy, chickpea, lentil, fava, and navy bean. Available in water or flavored with Mediterranean spices, oil, and herbs, Good Catch is a sustainable seafood alternative that’s easy to transform into tuna melts, sandwiches, croquettes. Good Catch has also recently released a line of frozen entrees and appetizers, so stay tuned for their plant-based crab cakes, sliders, and burgers.
While other brands are trying to imitate the texture, taste, and sizzle of meat, Hilary’s is totally content delivering wholesome frozen veggie patties made from recognizable ingredients. Hilary’s patties use a fun and innovative combination of vegetables, grains, and legumes to make their tasty creations, like fiesta black bean, super cauliflower, hemp and greens, root veggie, adzuki bean, spicy Thai, and their “World’s Best.”
Originally, Impossible Foods only sold their plant-based beef to food service providers and restaurants (they worked with Burger King to create the Impossible Whopper), but in 2019 their burger patties finally hit supermarket shelves. And the company hasn’t looked back since. Now you can find their ground beef and burgers and plant-based chicken sold in the meat department of most national supermarket chains. What differentiates the Impossible Burger from other plant-based beef is its use of heme, a naturally occurring molecule, which gives the patty its “blood” red color.
The LightLife brand has been committed to plant-based foods for over forty years, reimagining some of the most iconic American comfort foods and making them vegan/vegetarian friendly. The brand is most famous for their Smart Dogs, a plant-based hot dog made from soy protein, but they also make tempeh and a bacon product that crisps up nicely and tastes pretty close to the real thing.
In recent years, meat alternatives have blossomed beyond just burgers, dogs, and crumbles. Moku Foods is a young brand taking on a classic gas-station staple: jerky. Their plant-based variety is made from king oyster mushrooms, which are grown indoors and require very little water or sunlight, making them incredibly sustainable. They’ve got some cool flavors, ranging from sweet and spicy to Korean BBQ. Keep your eyes peeled for more Moku!
If you’re looking for plant-based breakfast options, look no further than MorningStar Farms. The classic brand is constantly reinventing itself, and now sells a whole range of meat-free sausages, bacon strips, egg muffins, and breakfast sandwiches. But they pretty much have any product you can imagine: chorizo crumbles, chicken stripes, Buffalo wings, and pepperoni pizza bites.
New Wave Foods makes a plant-based shrimp alternative using seaweed. Using this aquatic ingredient imparts a natural ocean flavor and chewy texture that mimics the taste and mouthfeel of shrimp. Add them to scampi, shrimp tacos, or a plant-based Po’Boy. Although only available in foodservice, you can find New Wave products in restaurants and cafeterias.
Ocean Hugger Foods
Ocean Hugger Foods has managed to capture the taste, texture, and aesthetic of sushi without harming fish or oceans. This “farm-raised” sushi is made from a range of vegetables: their “tuna” is made from tomatoes and their “eel” is from eggplant. Packed with umami, these plant-based bites are definitely worth trying, and thanks to a recent partnership with a multinational food manufacturer, the company is preparing a future roll out that includes both foodservice and retail markets.
Bringing Meatless Monday into the twenty first century is Omni Foods, a modern brand executing unique, meat-free comfort foods. How unique? We’re talking plant-based potstickers, pork-style strips, crab cakes, fish filets, and, wait for it, luncheon meat (AKA Spam). Their products are made from a mix of soy, rice, and pea protein as well as shiitake mushroom powder and oats.
Quorn is a relative newcomer to the United States, but the brand has been sold throughout the United Kingdom since 1985. What sets Quorn apart from other meat-alternatives is its use of mycoprotein in all of its products. Mycoprotein sounds intimidating, but it’s really just a natural fungus that’s high in protein, high in fiber, and low in saturated fat. Quorn offers a wide variety of product options, but they specialize in frozen foods, like their meatless grounds, ChiQin nuggets and cutlets, and turkey-style roasts.
Sweet Earth Foods
If you’ve strolled down the frozen aisle of your local supermarket, you’re likely familiar with Sweet Earth Foods. After being acquired by Nestle in 2017, the brand has been able to expand its reach and product offerings, which is a good thing for people looking for quick and easy vegetarian and plant-based meals. Sweet Earth sells dozens of different frozen goodies, but their burritos are especially fun and funky, including varieties like “Salsa Verde Chik’n,” “The Peruvian,” and “The Curry Tiger.”
The Tofurky brand was officially introduced in 1995. Their first product? The legendary Tofurky Roast. Since then the company has expanded into chicken, deli slices, burgers, sausages, and tempeh. Tofurky is a Certified B Corporation, which means they exceed a set of standards for the treatment of their works, sourcing of supplies, engagement with local communities, and supporting environmental sustainability.
Founded in 2006 with the goal of making more approachable vegetarian and vegan foods, Upton’s Naturals is a relative newcomer to the plant-based eating market, but we are certainly glad to have them! Upton’s Naturals uses jackfruit, a fleshy fruit native to southeast Asia with a stringy consistency, to create many of their plant-based meat products. They also use seitan to make everything from bacon to chorizo to Italian-flavored crumbles.
Yves Veggie Cuisine continues to push the boundaries of plant-based products and meat replacements. They’ve perfected a line of veggie deli slices, which includes ham, bologna, turkey, salami, and pepperoni, but they also sell hot dogs, burgers, and veggie bites. The best part about Yves’ products is that they require little to no preparation; just heat and serve and you’re ready to eat.