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Looking for Tasty Meat Substitutes? Finding Flavor Beyond Tofu

By HERWriter
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Looking for Tasty Meat Substitutes? Flavor Beyond Tofu AntonioDiaz/Fotolia

Whether you are full-time vegetarian or dabbling in meatlessness, there is only so much tofu one can eat. Although vegetarians claim that tofu’s main virtue is its tasteless versatility, it is nice to find substitutes for meat that have actual, well ... taste.

Here are a few of our favorites:


Tempeh is a cake of soybeans that are partially cooked and fermented. That might not conjure up mouth-watering images, but hear us out: the stuff is delicious.

It is also sturdy and can stand up to copious amount of sauce and won’t fall apart like another product that rhymes with “nofu.” In addition, the fermentation of soybeans allows for calcium, zinc and iron to become more available for the body's use, according to Cynthia Radnitz, PhD, who did a review on the rise in veganism in 2015.

Beans and Lentils

Pulses might not exactly taste like meat, but they are a whole-foods way to get your protein fix and fill you up fast. And 2016 is actually the International Year of Pulses.

It’s true. Just ask the United Nations and the Food and Agricultural Organization.

Why are these organizations waxing poetic about legumes? Because studies are rampant showing that they are excellent for you. It may even be part of the equation for living to be over 100 years old, as people in the Blue Zones (locations with many centenarians) eat a plant-rich diet with lots of beans.

If you are not a fan of the aftereffects of beans, consider allowing them to soak for a night before you eat them to reduce their gas-producing compounds.


This hearty meat substitute is made from wheat flour, water and yeast, so it is certainly not for the gluten-free — in fact it is a Japanese word that means “gluten.”

Seitan is stretched in one direction and compressed in another to make for a dense product that is as chewy as a piece of meat. Commercially made seitan can be high in sodium, so do make sure to read the ingredient list. You can even make some yourself, if you are so inclined.


Oaklander, Mandy, Should I Eat Tempeh? Time Magazine, Retrieved May 19 2016.

Garden-Robinson, Julie and McNeal, Krystie, All About Beans, North Dakota State University, Retrieved May 19 2016.

Barclay, Eliza, Eating To Break 100: Longevity Diet Tips From The Blue Zones, NPR.org, Retrieved May 19 2016.

Eating Beans, Peas, Chickpeas May Lose The Weight and Keep It Off, Science Daily, Retrieved May 19 2016.

Seitan, Chemical and Engineering News, Retrieved May 19 2016. 

Swami, S. B., Thakor, N. J., Haldankar, P. M. and Kalse, S. B. (2012), Jackfruit and Its Many Functional Components as Related to Human Health: A Review. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 11: 565–576. doi: 10.1111/j.1541-4337.2012.00210.x  





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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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