For those of us who grew up as omnivores, sometimes we miss our favourite meat-based recipes. A lot of the times for me it’s the nostalgia and childhood memories that make me more fond of the recipe.
Thankfully, there are so many vegetables that we can use to substitute meat in a plant based diet. I think it’s really cool how we’re able to come up with all these creations – a lot of the times motivated by our cravings!
So here are 5 vegetables that are excellent as meat replacements. Definitely five them a go in your next meal!
Eggplants are wonderful things. I love the colour aubergine, it’s such a rich and mysterious colour.
The consistency of eggplant makes it an excellent meat substitute. It’s chewy, hearty and is highly versatile.
Many people dislike the taste of eggplant, mainly due to its slight bitterness. However, the eggplant has a spongy texture which allows flavours to absorb well. So if you don’t like eggplant as a side vegetable, try it as a meat substitute, coated with lots of flavour – I’m sure you’ll start loving it!
I often use eggplant to substitute for chicken cutlets (for example, Japanese Katsu curry). But they’re also great for hamburgers and even as a bacon substitute!
Mushrooms have a pretty standard place in a plant-based diet. They are a fantastic vegetable to include in sides and toppings. But take them one step further and use them as a meat substitute for your next dish.
Mushrooms provide an earthy, umami-rich flavour that is perfect for savoury dishes. They absorb flavouring extremely well so will soak up all your spices, herbs and sauces. The texture is also chewy and hearty which makes it a good replacement for meat.
There are many types of mushrooms. Try to experiment with different types of mushrooms and see which one suits your dishes best.
I like to use large portobello mushrooms as a patty in burgers. Oyster and shiitake mushrooms are perfect as meat substitutes in hot-pot. Enoki mushrooms have the best texture and shape for french fries.
This tropical fruit is one of mother nature’s wonders.
It’s texture is similar to chicken and pork as it can shred into individual fibre-like strands. Many pulled pork recipes use jackfruit as their meat substitute but you can definitely use it for any chicken, pork or even beef recipes.
Make sure to buy young jackfruit though. Young jackfruit has a milder taste compared to mature jackfruit (more sweet). Other than this, it absorbs herbs, spices and sauces very well so is perfect for your marinade. Young jackfruit is available in cans or frozen – you can buy them fresh but it’s harder to prepare them.
Lentils are a dense nutritional powerhouse. Studies have shown its anti-oxidant properties as well as possible role in weight management.
Thankfully, lentils are a good meat substitute. They are often used to to create burger patties. I love using lentils as a ‘filling’ for many recipes that use minced or ground meats or smaller meat chunks. Because of their size, lentils have a high surface area for absorbing spices and aromatics.
For example, I use it in my Vietnamese steamed pork buns, dumplings and they are perfect for tacos and pies!
You have probably seen a cauliflower buffalo wing recipe floating around!
Cauliflower has a shred-like texture and because they are dense yet crumbly when cooked, they are the perfect meat substitute.
Owing to their complex structure, their high surface area means that flavour can be embedded in every cook and cranny of the vegetable, bringing you so much flavour to the dish!
My favourite cauliflower recipes include ‘tuna’ pasta bake and cauliflower steak.