3 high-protein vegan meat substitutes you should know about
"If I stop eating animal products, what can I eat at all?", "Tofu doesn't taste good and I actually prefer chili con carne to chili sin carne", "And how do I actually cover my protein needs?" If these statements sound familiar to you, then you should definitely read on. In addition to meat and tofu, there are many plant-based alternatives that not only taste good, but also provide you with high amounts of protein and other health-promoting ingredients.
In this article we will introduce you to three protein-rich alternatives that are relatively unknown and some of which we also use in our products:
Soy granules in chickpea curry and chili vegano
Pea protein in the African Bowl as well
Seitan , because the consistency of meat can be imitated almost 1:1.
In addition, there are other alternatives that are often used for finished products: e.g. tofu, tempeh, meat imitations made from vegetable proteins such as rice protein, lupine protein etc. as well as any products made from lentils, beans and their flour (or protein).
Soy or soy granules - always in disrepute
Soy products are discredited because they are harmful to the environment or unhealthy. The European soybean is anything but an environmental or health hazard. The legume provides a lot of protein (the biological value is 96%), fiber, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, magnesium and iron. The isoflavones contained or the effects of the ingredients on the thyroid gland are often held responsible for the harmful effects; However, the hormonally activating effect of isoflavones and the promotion of hypothyroidism do not occur with normal soy consumption in healthy people. In addition, the concentration of isoflavones in soy products is lower than in fresh beans; for example, tofu contains only a fifth of the isoflavone content. Healthy people can therefore consume soy products in moderation without hesitation.
Regarding the environmental aspect, two facts:
80% of the world's soy is fed to animals. Since this comes mainly from the USA, Brazil and Argentina, a lot of rainforest is cut down because of the high demand.
No genetically modified soy products are sold in Europe and soybeans must be grown without genetic engineering. The bean grows here just like other vegetables, which is why soy products in/from Europe, eg tofu, are not problematic from a health point of view and the transport routes continue to be reduced to a minimum in terms of the environment.
Soy products: soy granules
There are many soy products: tofu, soy sauce, miso paste, tempeh, soy protein, soy yoghurt, soy drink, soy granules/slices and much more. Due to their subtle taste of their own (apart from miso paste, tempeh and soy sauce), they can be used in many different ways because they absorb spices and marinades wonderfully.
In particular, soy granules, like the ones we use in our chickpea curry and chili vegano , are an excellent meat alternative:
It looks like ground beef and can be used the same way.
It consists of about 50% protein and therefore has more protein than minced meat.
It contains hardly any fat and, for example, does not increase LDL cholesterol levels like animal fats do.
Dietary fibers are also not neglected, which are completely absent in animal products: Depending on the manufacturer, between 10 and 20 grams per 100g are included. As a reminder, you should eat at least 30g of fiber per day.
Soy granules are made from defatted soy flour. The flour is then formed into granules, shreds or medallions. The finished slices therefore contain the nutrients of the soybean in a concentrated form, which favors the nutrient profile.
Preparation options for soy granules
Because soy chunks are dried, they must be soaked in hot water or other liquid before consumption. In addition to the long shelf life, this has the advantage that soaking can imitate any taste. For example, you can use vegetable broth instead of water or mix water with 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste, chilli paste, mustard, etc. and then pour over the schnitzel. Especially with liquid soups/sauces, it is also a good idea to cook the schnitzel in it, e.g. with vegan Bolognese.
Soy strips come in different sizes and shapes.
Coarse pieces (medallions or shreds) are particularly suitable for:
vegan chicken strips
Fine soy shreds or granules are particularly suitable for:
Chili sin carne
Sauces, e.g. vegan Bolognese
Two of our products contain soy granules instead of minced meat, so that animal ingredients can be avoided. If you are skeptical about soy, you can use the chickpea curry or chilli vegano to get an idea of the taste and possible uses before you buy soy granules.
Vegan Meat Substitutes: Seitan
We don't use seitan in our products, but it is a highly recommended vegan protein source and meat alternative. It is traditionally made from wheat protein, i.e. gluten, and has always been praised for its protein content. This is around a quarter and is therefore pretty much identical to meat.
Since seitan consists mainly of gluten, consumption can cause typical intolerance symptoms. People with gluten intolerance should therefore exercise caution when consuming it.
Compared to other meat alternatives, seitan has the advantage that it hardly has any taste of its own and has a very meat-like consistency. It is therefore often used for vegan meat products such as schnitzel, gyros, nuggets, sausage or salami.
But you can also buy it pure without any taste. This can be prepared in many different ways, e.g.:
Vegan “Beef” Salad
Put on/in bowls
Pan dishes: eg sauté with vegetables and noodles
You can even make vegan bacon with seitan. It is best to buy a “seitan base” for this. Seitan base is nothing more than the wheat gluten that is mixed with water and then boiled to make seitan. When you make your own seitan, you can use all sorts of spices and shape the end product the way you prefer.
Pea protein is an alternative that we also use. It is obtained from yellow peas and sold and processed in the form of flour. Although unknown to most, the use of plant protein is more common than meets the eye. It is not only used for vegan meat products or protein shakes, but also for cereals, soups/sauces, pasta/pastries, bars or snacks. In our African bowl we use it to imitate chicken meat.
The vegetable protein of the premier class
Pea protein (powder) is one of the highest-quality plant-based protein powders , since the amount and type of amino acids it contains can hardly be found in any other plant-based product with a similar composition. Pea protein contains seven out of nine essential amino acids; the well-known BCAAs valine, leucine and isoleucine as well as lysine and arginine in particularly high amounts. Since two essential amino acids are missing, the biological value drops to 65 (in comparison: whey protein has 85). Since the missing amino acids, such as methionine, are found in other foods and protein sources (e.g. hemp seeds/hemp protein/etc.) in large quantities, the biological value can easily be raised to 100 through a combination. This is also the reason why many vegetable protein powders are so-called multi-component protein powders, since no single vegetable protein source - be it rice protein, hemp protein or pea protein etc. - contains all the amino acids in sufficient quantities.
Except for iron, pea protein does not contain any appreciable amounts of vitamins and minerals. During the production of the powder, dried yellow peas are largely removed from the shell, including the micronutrients. All that remains is the powdered egg white, which contains hardly any vitamins.
As already mentioned above, the possible uses of pea protein are very diverse. Especially in vegan and sports nutrition, it is mainly used for protein shakes or meat alternatives such as chicken and less as a binding agent or carrier. Pea milk and pea protein shreds or granules, which are also made from pea protein, are relatively new to the market. These are used in the kitchen just like the soy products described above.
This article was written by our author Lisa. Her greatest passions are nutrition/health, cooking and sport.