A common reason people cite for not eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains is that they crave meat. But when you break down the qualities that make meat appealing to the average diner—the taste, the chew, the sizzle—you’ll quickly realize that these attributes can be recreated with only plant-based ingredients.
This Monday, combat meat cravings by making smart substitutions that capture the essence of meat—minus the animal. We’ve got five unexpected tips, as well as corresponding recipes, to help you cook up delicious dishes that are better for your health and the environment.
Add Some Umami
Umami is one of the five tastes (the others being sweet, salty, sour, and bitter) and is responsible for giving foods a decadent, savory flavor. Meat and aged cheeses are common sources of umami, so fortifying your plant-based dishes with umami flavors can help add depth and richness. Many plant-based ingredients are excellent sources of umami, such as tomatoes, mushrooms, seaweed (or nori), green tea, nutritional yeast, and miso. You can also use seasonings, like Yondu Vegetable Umami to easily add that deep umami flavor to dishes.
Meat eaters often miss the texture of animal-proteins, but you can easily capture the mouthfeel of meat with only plant-based ingredients. Foods like mushrooms, jackfruit, and eggplant, as well as plant-based proteins such as tempeh, seitan, and tofu are all great substitutes.
Advances in the development of plant-based alternatives have resulted in some pretty incredible products that possess the flavor, texture, and look of meat. Beyond Meat, Gardein, and Impossible Foods are just a handful of the many brands creating these products. Experiment with different varieties, and try substituting them in place of meat in your recipes.
The right sauce can transform any protein into something familiar and tasty. Many iconic meat-based meals—Buffalo wings, barbecued ribs, chicken tikka masala—get most of their flavor from their sauces. Using the proper sauce or condiment, allows you to easily make healthier versions of your favorite meaty meals.