Vegan Meat Substitutes: The Definitive Guide To Incorporating Them Into Your Diet

There are many reasons for wanting to incorporate meat substitutes into your diet, even if you are not on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Eating less meat is better for your health and the environment. However, the abundance of meat substitutes makes it challenging to know which one to choose.

This is the ultimate guide to choosing a vegan meat replacement for any situation.

How to choose

First, consider what function the vegan substitute serves in your food—looking for protein, flavor, or texture?

  • If you are using vegan meat substitutes as the primary source of protein in your meal, then check the labels to find an option that contains protein.
  • If you are on a vegan or vegetarian diet, look for nutrients typically low in these diets, such as iron, vitamin B12, and calcium.
  • If you are on a special diet that bans things like gluten or soy, look for products that don’t contain these ingredients.


Reading the nutritional information and ingredient list on products is crucial to finding a product that meets your dietary needs and diet.

El tofu

For decades, tofu has been on the shelf in vegetarian diets and has been a staple in Asian cuisine for centuries. Although it lacks flavor, it takes flavors from the other ingredients in a dish.

It is made in a similar way to the way cheese is made from cow’s milk: soy milk thickens, so the curds that form are pressed into blocks.


Tofu can be prepared with agents such as calcium sulfate or magnesium chloride, which affect its nutritional profile. Also, some brands of tofu are fortified with nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12, and iron.

For example, 4 ounces (113 grams) of organic soya contains:

  • Calories: 60.
  • Carbohydrates: 1.3 grams.
  • Protein: 11 grams.
  • Fat: 2 grams.
  • Fiber: 1.4 grams.
  • Calcium: 200 mg – 15% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).
  • Iron: 2 mg – 25% of the RDI for men and 11% for women.
  • Vitamin B12: 2.4 mcg – 100% de la IDR.

The tofu can be cut into cubes to be used in a stir-fry or crumbled as a substitute for eggs or cheese. Try it on scrambled tofu or vegan lasagna.


Tofu is a versatile soy-based meat substitute rich in protein and may contain additional nutrients such as calcium and vitamin B12 that are important for a vegan diet.

Products differ in nutrient content, so reading labels is essential.

El tempeh

Tempeh is a traditional soy product made from fermented soybeans. Soybeans are grown and formed into cakes.

Unlike tofu, which is made from soy milk, tempeh is made from whole soybeans, so it has a different nutritional profile.

It contains more protein, fiber, and vitamins than tofu. Also, as a fermented food, it can benefit digestive health.

A half-cup (83 grams) of tempeh contains:

  • Calories: 160.
  • Carbohydrates: 6.3 grams.
  • Protein: 17 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams.
  • Calcium: 92 mg – 7% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 2 mg – 25% of the RDI for men and 11% for women.

Tempeh is often supplemented with grains like barley, so if you’re on a gluten-free diet, read labels carefully.

Tempeh has a more robust flavor and firmer texture than tofu. It pairs well with peanut-based sauces and can be easily added to French fries or Thai salad.


Tempeh is a vegan meat substitute made from fermented soybeans. It’s high in protein and works well in stir-fries and other Asian dishes.

Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

TVP is a highly processed vegan meat substitute developed in the 1960s.

It’s made by taking soy flour, a by-product of soybean oil production, and removing the fat with solvents. The result is a high-protein, low-fat product.

Soy flour can be found in various forms, such as seeds and chunks.

DVT can be purchased in a dehydrated form. However, it is most often found in processed, frozen, and vegetarian products.

Nutritionally, a half cup (27 grams) of TVP contains:

  • Calories: 93.
  • Carbohydrates: 8.7 grams.
  • Protein: 14 grams.
  • Fat: 0.3 grams.
  • Fiber: 0.9 grams.
  • Iron: 1.2 mg – 25% of the RDI for men and 11% for women.

TVP is made from conventional soybeans and probably contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) since most soybeans in some countries are genetically modified.

TVP is flavorless on its own, but it can add a meaty texture to dishes like vegan chili.


TVP is a highly processed vegan meat substitute made from soybean oil by-products. It is high in protein and can add a meaty texture to vegan recipes.


Seitan, or wheat gluten, is derived from gluten, the protein in wheat. It is made by adding water to wheat flour and removing the starch.

Seitan is dense and chewy, with little flavor on its own. It is often seasoned with soy sauce or other marinades.

It can be found in the supermarket’s refrigerated section in forms such as strips and chunks.

Seitan is high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and a good source of iron.

Three ounces (91 grams) of seitan contains:

  • Calories: 108.
  • Carbohydrates: 4.8 grams.
  • Protein: 20 grams.
  • Fat: 1.2 grams.
  • Fiber: 1.2 grams.
  • Iron: 8 mg – 100% of the RDI for men and 44% for women.

Since the main ingredient in seitan is wheat gluten, it is not suitable for anyone on a gluten-free diet.

Seitan can be used in place of meat or chicken in almost any recipe. For example, try it on a vegan Mongolian beef roast.


Seitan, a vegan meat replacement made from wheat gluten, provides ample protein and iron. It can be used as a substitute for chicken or meat in almost any recipe, but it is not suitable for people on a gluten-free diet.


Mushrooms are an excellent substitute for meat if you are looking for an unprocessed whole food option.

They have a meaty flavor, rich in umami and salty taste.

Portobello mushrooms can be broiled or broiled in place of a burger or sliced ​​and used in fries or tacos.

Mushrooms are low in calories and high in fiber, making them a good option for people trying to lose weight. However, they do not contain a lot of protein.

One cup (121 grams) of grilled portabella mushrooms contains:

  • Calories: 42.
  • Carbohydrates: 6 grams.
  • Protein: 5.2 grams.
  • Fat: 0.9 grams.
  • Fiber: 2.7 grams.
  • Iron: 0.7 mg – 9% of the RDI for men and 4% for women.

Add mushrooms to pasta, fries, and salads, or choose a vegan portobello burger.


Mushrooms can be used to substitute for meat and provide a rich flavor and texture. They are an excellent option if you are looking to reduce your intake of processed foods. However, they are pretty low in protein.

The jackfruit

Although jackfruit has been used in Southeast Asian cuisines for centuries, it has recently become popular in American countries as a substitute for meat.

It is a large tropical fruit with flesh with a subtle, fruity flavor that is similar to pineapple.

Jackfruit has a chewy texture and is often used as a substitute for pulled pork in barbecue recipes.

It can be purchased raw or canned. Some canned jellies are sealed in syrup, so read labels carefully for added sugars.

Since jackfruit is high in carbohydrates and low in protein, it may not be the best option if you are looking for a plant-based source of protein. However, when served with other high-protein foods, it makes an adequate substitute for meat.

One cup (154 grams) of raw jackfruit contains:

  • Calories: 155.
  • Carbohydrates: 40 grams.
  • Protein: 2.4 grams.
  • Fat: 0.5 grams.
  • Fiber: 2.6 grams.
  • Calcium: 56 mg – 4% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 1.0 mg – 13% of the RDI for men and 6% for women.


Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that can be used as a substitute for pork in barbecue recipes. It is high in carbohydrates and low in protein, making it a poor nutritional substitute for meat.

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes are affordable sources of plant-based protein that serve as hearty, hearty substitutes for meat. Also, they are a complete and unprocessed food.

There are many types of beans: chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and more.

Although beans are an excellent plant-based source of protein, they do not contain all of the essential amino acids. However, they are high in fiber and an excellent vegetarian source of iron.

For example, one cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains:

  • Calories: 230.
  • Carbohydrates: 40 grams.
  • Protein: 18 grams.
  • Fat: 0.8 grams.
  • Fiber: 15.6 grams.
  • Calcium: 37.6 mg – 3% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 6.6 mg – 83% of the RDI for men and 37% for women.

Beans can be used in soups, stews, hamburgers, and many other recipes.


Beans are a substitute for vegan meat and foods rich in protein, fiber, and iron. They can be used in soups, stews, and hamburgers.

Vegan products factories

There are hundreds of meat substitutes on the market, making meatless, high-protein meals extremely convenient.

However, not everything that does not have meat is necessarily vegetarian, so if you are on a strict vegan diet, instead of looking for variety, it is essential to read labels carefully.

Some companies make popular meat substitutes, although not all of them focus strictly on vegan products.

What to avoid

People with food allergies or intolerances may need to read labels carefully to avoid ingredients like gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and corn.

Also, don’t assume a vegan product because it doesn’t have meat. Many meatless products include eggs, dairy products, and natural flavors from animal products and enzymes consisting of animal rennet.

Also, like most processed foods, many vegan meat substitutes are high in sodium, so be sure to read the labels if you watch your sodium intake.

A healthy diet relies on minimally processed foods, so watch out for long ingredient lists filled with words you don’t recognize.


Choose vegan meat substitutes that are minimally processed, with recognizable ingredients. Avoid highly processed items that are not verified free from animal products.

The bottom line

These days, hundreds of vegan meat substitutes are available from natural and processed sources.

The nutritional profile of these products varies greatly, so choose them based on your own dietary and nutritional needs.

Finding vegan meat substitutes to suit your needs should be easy, with many options.