• Nora Hemsley

Vegetarian and Vegan Meat Substitutes

In this week’s article, I will review some of the meat substitutes that I have tried throughout my years as a vegetarian since becoming one in 6th grade. I always try to find a good balance of eating foods that will not damage the planet and also eating foods that aren’t too processed (as a lot of meat substitutes can be). I still have many I want to try and, as always, would love recommendations :)

First up on the menu is tofu! The classic. The OG. And, also a kind of a disputed substitute in terms of its degree of enjoyability. I personally love tofu. However, it is all about the seasoning. If you don’t season/marinade/cook tofu right, it tastes exactly like how it looks: extremely bland. My mom and I have experimented with different techniques and strategies, and we have found that the best way to cook it is to marinade it for about 12 hours, as you would chicken or steak, grill it and then pour leftover marinade on it before serving. Just make sure to get extra firm! I have found that greek marinade or dressing tastes great, as well as soy sauce or balsamic vinegar. I have also noticed that more and more restaurants are introducing tofu into their menu. Chipotle recently added “sofritas” to their menu, and, while I have yet to try that, I love to see the effort to incorporate more plant-based options :) I have tried the tofu at Sweetgreen, though, and I really like it!

Beyond Meat! The brand that is ~sweeping~ the nation as they say. I feel as though beyond meat has been popping up in all sorts of restaurants across the country. Maybe this goes against popular opinion, but I am not the biggest fan of Beyond Burgers. I will definitely eat one if it's my only option, but something about the attempt to make them super meat-like has ruined the brugers for me. On the other hand, I really enjoy their sausages. I never really liked real sausages, but I am a huge fan of the Beyond Sausage Links.

Morning Star! Morning Star has too many sausage and burger variations than I could go through in a reasonably lengthened article, but some of my faves from their vegetarian/vegan options are the sausage patties (original but maple isn't horrible) and the veggie griller original burgers. Morning Star has everything from fake chicken patties to vegetarian bacon. I would recommend their products to any new vegetarian looking for lots of options that are simple yet delicious!

Gardein! I have been having their meatless meatballs since the beginning of my vegetarianism, and they do not disappoint. Meatballs were another type of meat that I never loved, but I look forward to any time I can have these. Another product of theirs that I have been having recently is the seven grains crispy tenders. Shoutout to Lily Muhlbaum ’22 for recommending them to me! They pair excellently with your choice of dipping sauce (I like mustard--don’t judge) and can easily be a snack or as a part of a meal! They also have other variations of chicken tenders/nuggets, so if you are looking to get less Chick-fil-A (or if it's a Sunday), pick some of these up!

While creating this list, I highlighted some of my fave vegetarian options that I can have at home, but there are also so many options that I still want to try ! Some of them include tempeh, vegan “jerky” (Louisville Co), seitan and Yves veggie dogs (don’t ask me why I am intrigued by this). Let me know your thoughts!

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Nora