Whether you’re a vegan, a vegetarian, a meat reducer or someone who simply wants to improve their diet, you don’t need to deprive yourself of classic dishes that traditionally rely on meat as their main ingredient.
These 10 vegetables are meaty and tasty enough to take the place of beef, pork, lamb and chicken without too much effort.
If you’re looking for something to take the place of red meat in pies and stews, turn to the umami mushroom for the answer. Rich, earthy and meaty, the umami can be used as a direct substitute in dishes such as savoury pies, meat subs, stir-fries and burgers. With a little salt, black pepper and balsamic pepper, these little beauties can satisfy the cravings of the most ardent meat-lovers.
Beetroot is sweet and full of flavour, and it makes the perfect meat substitute for salads. However, it also possesses an earthy flavour that makes them perfect for roasting. Slice a beetroot lengthways to create a hearty patty for your burgers.
This is often the go-to vegetable when it comes to providing a like-for-like meat substitute. For instance, if you’re cooking a hearty steak and chips, you can create a vegan alternative simply by using vegetable oil and replacing the meat with a chunky slice of pan-fried aubergine. Use aubergine to make burgers, meatballs, ragu and just about anything that traditionally requires the use of meat.
Lentils are earthy, meaty and packed with unique flavours. They can be used to replace ground beef with zero effort, or they can be used as the basis for burger patties, tacos, meatballs and stews.
5. Legumes and beans
The possibilities for legumes are meat substitutes are endless. Whether they are served whole or mashed into patties and pie fillings, kidney beans, aduki beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas and black beans can all provide a meaty, textured base for a range of classic dishes. Ever tried black-eyed pea sausage or white bean burgers? Give them a go… you might be surprised at the results.
Ok, so jackfruit is technically a fruit, but its earthy, savoury flavour and thick texture make it the perfect meat substitute. Whilst slightly sweet, jackfruit can be “savouried” up with salt, pepper, cumin, chilli and turmeric. Pan-fried with spices, jackfruit actually resembles pulled pork, which means it’s great for subs, roasts, stir-fries and pretty much any dish that usually requires pork or chicken. Ever tried a jackfruit kebab with chilli sauce?
Yes, nuts aren’t vegetables, but they are ideal for use as a meat replacement. There’s a reason why nut roasts are so popular with vegetarians and vegans — they’re a textured, meaty alternative to the classic Sunday roast. Walnuts, cashews, peanuts and pecans also make fantastic burger patties when combined with beans and legumes.
There is just no limit to the talents of the avocado. Not only is it a so-called superfood, it is a versatile fruit that can be used as a meat substitute on salads, in quiches, subs, kebabs and pizzas. It can even be used to create tasty vegan mousses. Avocados are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. They also contain many of the same enzymes found in meat, which might help to curb any meat cravings you might experience from time to time.
Quinoa is a grain-like seed that is packed with protein and essential amino acids. Not only does it provide a tasty alternative to the texture of ground meat, it is also a viable nutritional alternative. Easy to cook and very versatile, quinoa can be used to great effect in vegan minces, casseroles and pasta dishes.
10. Sweet potato
Sweet potato is a colourful, meaty and fibrous vegetable that is perfect for roasting. It can also be fried to take the place of a steak or used as a patty for a burger. Add it to salads, or mash it to make vegan pastries and desserts.
These hearty vegetables are more than a match for meat, and they prove that going vegan doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all your favourite dishes forever.