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What is the best meat substitute?

by Bryony Harrison (follow)
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If you are a vegetarian, but are looking for something to replace the meat in a recipe your your diet in general, what do you think is the best substitute? Tofu, Quorn, and soya re the most common, but which is best and why? Are there any other choices? Do you base your choice on how well they mimic the taste and texture of meat, or do you look for something with similar nutritional benefits?

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Tofu is incredibly versatile and can be infused with different flavours but soy products like tofu and soy milk are controversial right now - there are arguments that due to their oestrogen-mimicking properties, they can be harmful to women. The best option is to go for a fermented products like tempeh, which also contains Vitamin B12, an essential nutrient that can be difficult for vegans and vegetarians to obtain.

Although highly processed, I'm a big fan of Sanitarium's fake bacon rashers!

I'm not a vegetarian, but I do prefer to substitute meat sometimes. If I am at a restaurant, I like tofu dishes because it takes on the flavour of whatever it is served with. I also like some soya products, but one I am not keen on is soya protein. It is supposed to have the texture of meat when soaked in water, but it doesn't really; it's pretty chewy and tasteless.

If you are not a vegan, then halloumi cheese makes an excellent substitute for bacon as they have very a similar flavour. For nutritional purposes pulses such as soya beans and kidney beans have the protein you need.
Meat-substitutes can be hard to find as it requires a lot of experimentation, trial and error, etc. I've found most beans and pulses do the job for me. Chick peas, berlotti beans, and haricot in particular are delicious meat substitutes.

A note on your comment Bryony: nearly all non-organic soy ingredients are of GM origin, most soy additives are processed using a toxic chemical known as hexane, which is linked to causing birth defects, reproductive problems, and cancer. Soy that has not been fermented is also highly estrogenic, which can throw your natural hormone balance out of whack.

Would that be the case with soy milk and soy spread? What about soya beans themselves?
Hi Bryony
Look for labels that specifically state non-GMO. If you have to drink soy milk the best one on the market is Bonsoy.
Quorn is tasty and versitile and it's nice to have an alternative to soy. Unfortunately I seem to be allergic to it.

I quite enjoy tofu in stir fries and Thai curries. Sure, soy is an unnatural product, but so are loads of other foods like, say, bread or peanut butter.

Otherwise I tend to use nuts, lentils, beans, chickpeas and mushrooms.
To clarify, I am allergic to Quorn, not soy.
Tofu and vegetarian sauages
Tempeh is also great meat substitute - it has the chew factor and tastes great with tons of veg and a delicious satay sauce.
by Lucy
Hey Bryony, as far as I know all non-organic soy products. It's a big fad, and after my sister was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome we all started doing some research into how to help combat it, and soy everything aggravates the syndrome. The whole soy craze is nonsense; soy is an unnatural product, so you should avoid it at all costs hun.
Thanks. That's news to me.
The soy plant is completely natural, it's the products we make from it that are unnatural. With so many conflicting studies on the effects of soy it can be hard to know who to believe.

Unfortunately we're all eating soy whether we're aware of it or not - soy is one of the most common food additives used today. You'll find it in various processed forms in breads, pizzas, cereals, chips, chocolate and so many more foods. Check your labels for soy, soy lecithin, soya bean, glycine max, soy protein, soy proteing concentrate - stay away from the concentrates if you can - this is where manufacturers sneak around labeling laws by hiding chemical flavourings within concentrates.

Soy is also one of the top ten food allergens.

The business about tofu and polycystic ovaries is very interesting. I know a girl who has that problem, and the associated weight gain, and is eating tofu like it is going out of style………………better pull her up quick smart.
by fran.
I often use beans/legumes in meals that would typically involve meat, like tacos and hamburgers (you can make patties with lentils or chickpeas for example).
I often use a product called Quorn which is I think, a type of mushroom or fungus?
I am mostly vegetarian and use mushrooms -i find I do not have a problem finding recipes that don't use meat, and no longer use Tofu as my children nagged at me about the dangers of soy products so eventually i stopped.
There is another soy product that you can use instead of mince and this is also quite nice -you buy it at health food stores, and even supermarkets but I cannot remember the name -have made spaghetti bol. with this.
by Finy
I think some of the best substitutes include peas, beans and nuts. Besides they are not processes. I've not had or used much Tofu.
Tofu's nice, and legumes too.
I love Tofu...
I love lentils and other legumes. I am not vegetarian but have a mainly vegetarian diet. I still eat eggs as I keep my own chooks.
I like tofu for variety , but will probably have less after reading the dangers of processed soy. Shall stick to the legumes. I have never heard of, or tried Quorn. If it is mushroom based my husband cannot eat it as mushrooms make him ill. Mushrooms are described as meat for vegetarians and can add a slightly meaty texture, as can eggplant if it is not cooked too far.
I don't usually look to replace meat texture in my food.
My dad's allergic to mushrooms too, so I can't use them in anything I make that might be something for him to eat.
I'm not really sure to tell you the truth,maybe a vegetarian dish of some sort.
I'm not sure about this question, I cook vegetarian meals as well. meat can be so expensive, especially lamb, ans I don't know why? I love a good lamb roast!
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