Veganuary is in full swing, and you’ve probably already seen the influx of new products to hit the shelves. Whether you live a plant-based diet already or are making the change to try more meat free meals, eating vegan has never been more convenient.
But adapting your staple favourite meal is also a simple change you can make for the month, switching the mince in your lasagne to mushrooms or a meat substitution still gives you the comfort food you crave in colder months without half of the saturated fat, meaning it’s better for your health and the environment.
Here’s some of the easiest meat substitutions on the market today:
When you first think about making the change to plant-based meals, most of the times tofu is the ingredient which first comes to mind. When prepared correctly tofu can be a flavourful alternative which takes minutes to cook! If you don’t want to start the sometimes-lengthy process of draining, pressing, and seasoning your tofu there are now easily accessible pre-prepared versions from all supermarkets which often come seasoned and pre-cut to make everything all the easier.
Here’s a Gusto recipe we love to try with Tofu:
Stir fried Tofu ramen, with chili oil
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 280g plain tofu
- 30g white miso paste
- 20ml toasted sesame oil
- 2 whole wheat noodle nests
- 15g fresh root ginger
- 15ml rice vinegar
- 30ml soy sauce
- 30g tahini
- 20g hoisin sauce
- 200g pak choi
- 1 spring onion
- vegetable oil
step 1 – while boiling a kettle full of water Combine the toasted sesame oil and cayenne pepper in a small bowl, give everything a good mix up and set aside for later – this is your chili oil. If you prefer milder flavour this step can be skipped.
Step 2 – Peel (scrape the skin off with a teaspoon) and finely chop (or grate) the ginger. Peel and finely chop or crush the garlic.
Step 3 – Drain and pat the tofu with kitchen paper until completely dry. Heat a large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) with a generous drizzle of vegetable oil over a medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, crumble the tofu directly into the pan and cook for 5-6 min or until golden. Once cooked, add the chopped ginger and garlic and cook for 1-2 min further or until fragrant.
Step 4- Whilst the tofu is cooking, add the miso paste, rice vinegar, half the soy sauce (save the rest for later!) and 1 tsp sugar to a pot with 800ml boiled water over a medium heat and cook for 3-4 min, stirring well to combine.
Step 5 – Meanwhile, wash then cut the pak choi in half, discard the roots. Add the whole wheat noodles to the pot and cook for an initial 4 min or until the noodles are almost cooked. After an initial 4 min, add the halved pak choi and cook for 2-3 min further or until the noodles are cooked and the pak choi is tender.
Step 6 – Once fragrant, add the remaining soy sauce and hoisin sauce to the pan with the tofu and cook for 1-2 min or until sticky – this is your stir-fried tofu. Meanwhile, trim, then slice the spring onion[s] finely.
Step 7 – Once the noodles are cooked, carefully remove the pak choi from the pot and set aside for serving. Add the tahini to the pot with the noodles and give everything a good mix up until the soup is creamy and has thickened slightly – this is your miso sesame ramen. Serve the whole wheat noodles in deep bowls and pour the miso sesame ramen over the top. Top with the pak choi, stir-fried tofu and sliced spring onion – this is your stir-fried tofu ramen. Finally drizzle the chili oil all over and enjoy.
Seitan is a meat substitute made from wheat gluten and can be made to imitate meats such as chicken, so prefect for fajitas. Seitan is high in protein meaning you won’t miss out when replacing the meat in your alternative dishes and like tofu can be seasoned and flavoured to adapt your substitute to the meal you want to create. Seitan can be made in bulk or bought from more specialist food shops or online.
A traditional Indonesian food tempeh or tempe is made using soybeans and has been popularised as a meat substitute in recent years. Tempeh is great for stir fry’s tray bakes and more, adding texture and flavour to traditionally staple meals. Plus, tempeh is also high in protein so no missing out on your usual nutrients either. Tempeh is available online or in specialised food shops, however during Veganuary tempeh is easier to get via supermarkets.
Shop bought meat substitutes-
Throughout January there are lots of substitute meat alternatives from vegan ‘fish’ to the more popular vegan ‘mince’, ‘burgers’ and ‘chicken’. These alternatives are traditionally made with either soy or pea proteins and usually you will have to try different brands before you have a texture and taste to suit your specific needs and preferences.