People choose to eat a plant based diet for a variety of reasons. Personal health, animal welfare and environmental reasons all influence a person, and whether you choose to go fully vegan or simply to introduce more plant based foods to your diet it’s good to have some advice as to meat alternatives.
The original meat substitute is tofu, and it remains one of the highest sources of protein in the meat replacements. Generally available in jars or tetra packs in brands like Biona and Clearspring, tofu is quite a pure product in terms of ingredients and level of processing, and is made from soya beans. Silken tofu is quite a bland product, and really needs flavoring to make it tasty. A simple recipe is to coat half a block of tofu in one teaspoon of cinnamon and one tea spoon of paprika. Fry in coconut oil for 5 minutes, then add two tblsp of honey/agave syrup/ maple syrup and fry for another minute or so until it crisps up. Serve with pitta bread and salad.
Jack fruit is more a meat substitute because of its texture rather than its protein content. A relative of figs and breadfruit, jackfruit grows in tropical areas of Southeast Asia, Brazil and Africa. While it is technically a fruit, it’s consistency is similar to that of chicken or pork. Biona have a great range of organic tinned jackfruit; Sweet n Smokey is very versatile and can be used for “duck” pancakes. Other options are Jackfruit Stew, Thai Yellow Curry and Chilli Lime. Check out www.biona.co.uk for easy recipes and tips.
Banana Blossom is a fleshy, purple skinned lower, shaped like a tear which grows at the end of a banana fruit cluster. Traditionally used in south-east Asian and Indian cooking, it can also be eaten raw and its chunky flaky texture makes it an ideal substitute for fish. Dip in flour, batter and then fry until golden brown. Nori, lemon juice and dill in the flour and batter add the typical fishy flavors.
Convenience is important in today’s hectic lifestyle. Cupboard staples such as Biona tofu bolognese or soya bolognese can simply be heated and stirred in to cooked spaghetti for a quick and healthy meal.
Just Wholefoods also provide staple dry food mixes for making up many meat alternatives including burgers, falafel and sausages. The products are based around soy mince or chick peas, contain no artificial preservatives and are palm oil free. The sausage mix can be used to make vegan sausage rolls in minutes by combining with some chutney and rolling up in pastry.
Seitan is one of the vegan world’s best kept secrets! Otherwise known as vegan steak, seitan steaks are deliciously textured and very high in protein. Generally home made from a variety of ingredients including chickpeas, nutritional yeast and spices; wheat gluten is an essential one on the list.