The Best Vegetarian Substitutes For Meat

Uncooked bulgur wheat
Uncooked bulgur wheat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vegetarianism is gaining popularity, but not many people are aware of the fact that the omission of certain meat items like beef, poultry, and fish leads to a lack of certain important nutrients in your diet. Among these nutrients is Omega 3, which is healthy fat, and proteins, which are found in chicken and lean beef. Fortunately, you can still get these essential nutrients if you use the right meat substitutes in your meal. Here are some food items you can add to your daily diet to replace meat:

Walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and other nuts contain a good dose of Omega 3, which is normally found in fish. Nuts can also provide you with proteins and fiber, both of which are quite rare in an all-vegetable diet. Use nuts while preparing foods, especially on to food preparations that otherwise use meat. However, you should also be careful about calories while eating nuts.

Soy products are a rage in the market now, and are a popular meat substitute. Soy products like soy hot dogs, turkey, bacon, and chicken are quite common. Therefore, soy food items are easily available and carry many health benefits apart from its rich dose of nutrients. For example, soy is known to lower cholesterol and exhibit anti-cancerous properties.

Bulgur wheat
This is a variant of whole wheat, and is called whole grain. Bulgur wheat is commonly used in rice, but it can be used to as an effective substitute for some meat items like meatloaves and sausages. This form of wheat is quite rich in protein, potassium, and iron, and low in glycemic index.

This vegetable is actually a common substitute for meat in Italian cuisine because it has a similar texture to meat. Eggplant is used frequently in staple Italian dishes like lasagna and pasta. The vegetable is particularly rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamin B, and potassium.

This is another popular substitute for meat. It is derived from soymilk, and most commonly used as a form of curd. Tofu is especially popular because of its shape and texture; it is sold as a white colored, soft, and jelly-like block with almost no taste. Although tasteless at first, tofu can be very appetizing when it is fried or grilled. This substitute is packed with protein as well.

Portobello mushrooms
Portobello mushrooms are good substitutes for beefsteaks and other grilled meat preparations because of their juicy and thick texture. With the right seasoning and grille marks, it is possible to get a smokiness and flavor similar to beefsteak. Moreover, the mushrooms are low in cholesterol and fat, doing away with the negative aspects of meat. They also carry lots of nutrients, especially proteins.

Lentils, peas, and beans belong to the legume class of vegetables, and they are considerably good substitutes for meat in terms of nutrition. They are packed with nutrients like protein, folate, iron, potassium, and magnesium.

Tempeh is a specific Indonesian soybean derivative that is a very good substitute for fish. It can be steamed, backed, sautéed, or deep-fried. Tempeh contains vitamin B12, iron, protein, and calcium.

You can find several other vegetarian substitutes for meat other than those mentioned above, and they are very important if you want to have a complete balanced diet.

About the Author: Chef Lim Zhi Yuan is a celebrity chef who has more than 40 years of culinary experience around Asia. Prior to joining Asian How to use Food Recipes, Chef Lim Zhi Yuan helmed numerous prestigious hotels and restaurants,including the Hilton and Banyan Tree. He is also a Master Chef contributor on Asia’s largest Simple and Easy Cooking Recipe website –

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