6 Marvelous Mock Meats

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6 Marvelous Mock Meats

Written by Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer

Whether you're going meat-free for religious or personal reasons, your body will thank you. Giving up meat from time to time has a tremendous effect on your health, so we can all benefit from learning about alternate and affordable plant-based proteins. Check out these half dozen meat-free staples!


Lentils are a cheap and versatile protein source. They cost about a dollar a pound in the bulk bins at your supermarket.

On nights when you're pressed for time, throw some lentils in a pot, along with a bit of onion and garlic. Add twice as much broth as lentils and let them simmer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, steam some broccoli or spinach, heat up some brown rice and drizzle on a bit of curry or tomato sauce. Dinner's on the table in less than 20 minutes!

Most people limit lentils to lentil soup, but these legumes have a lengthy list of uses.


Few foods are as polarizing as tofu. Say the word and watch as noses crinkle or mouths water.

Tofu, also known as soybean curd, is made by soaking, boiling, blending and straining soybeans, then adding a coagulating agent and pressing it. Think of tofu as the other white meat. Like chicken, it's a versatile protein, a blank canvas on which to test your culinary prowess. You can substitute sautéed or grilled tofu in just about every chicken recipe you have.

More Tofu Tips


It looks a bit like cereal, but it smells saltier and tastes more savory than sweet. It's a cheap, versatile and incredibly easy to use protein source that is sometimes hard to distinguish from ground meat when added to a recipe. It's TVP: Textured Vegetable Protein.

Demystify this vegetarian protein, which can be used in everything from chili and meatballs to tacos and shepherd's pie.

Black Beans

Many of us could live on black beans and rice--and several cultures do! Black beans are cheap (roughly 89 cents a can or dried for about $1 a pound). Once cooked they can be frozen and easily added to your favorite recipes.

Black Beans: The Best Beans!


What is tempeh (pronounced tem-pay)?

Tempeh is a fermented product made from soybeans, but it's not pungent like sauerkraut. When crumbled or grated, tempeh has the texture of ground meat.

It's time to try tempeh.

A Medley of Meatless "Meats"

Welcome to the wonderful world of meat analogs! You can indulge your cravings for all your favorites--pepperoni pizza, BLTs and even sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches--even when you're on a meatless diet.

Take a stroll through the frozen food section of any grocery store these days, and you'll find the meatless meats. Chicken nuggets and patties, ribs, burgers, sausage, bacon, ground meat, hot dogs, and even turkey have been made meatless.

Read more.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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8/10/2014 11:29:13 PM

I eat a lot of these, though the mock meats are eaten sparsely. The fake meats are sodium-laden.


8/10/2014 11:03:54 AM

NEREA_72's SparkPage
I haven't eaten meat ever since I was a child (6 or 7), I do eat fish sometimes and I eat plenty of 'meat free' protein substitutes: tofu, seitan, tempeh, lentils, lupines (they're packed with proteins!!) and since I'm not vegan I do eat eggs and some dairy products. I've happily lived without meat for decades- it's not something I have 'given up' though, I used to feel very sick after eating it so I really do NOT miss it!


4/12/2013 11:20:13 PM

Mock meats is a misnomer. This should have been called healthy (for some) protein options.

I, for one, do not eat ANY soy products, since I'm a breast cancer survivor whose tumor was estrogen-receptor positive. That means the cancer FEEDS on estrogen, and soy contains phyto-estrogens. So, to reduce my risk of a recurrence, I avoid soy - and that's a lot harder than it sounds, since it's an ingredient in many foods, from tofu to salad dressing, high protein cereals such as Kashi, many protein bars, etc.

So, with the approval of my oncologist and my PCP, I consume meat, poultry and fish, as well as use dairy, eggs, beans and nuts for protein sources. I'd rather eat a lean piece of meat than the overly processed soy products any day.


4/12/2013 10:13:34 PM

Since we produced Betsy's Tempeh in Mich. for 9 1/2 years I wanted to share with your readers our easy method for making tempeh at home. makethebesttempeh.org
Currently we are in the process of developing a tempeh incubator for restaurants and small coops producing heathy food for the local community.
Feel free to write with any questions or comments.
Betsy Shipley


4/12/2013 6:12:15 PM

You forgot seitan!


4/12/2013 5:50:30 PM

The feeling you get after eating a fresh salad or a good meatless stir fry is like heaven. The feeling you get after eating a cheesesteak and fries, also heaven. Just a very different kind. LOL. I'll never give up meat entirely, but I'm excited to explore more meatless options during the week.


4/12/2013 1:47:31 PM

CAT-IN-CJ's SparkPage
Agreed that there are some 'mock' meats that are good for us, but there are a ton of 'em out there that - altho may have started out 'healthy' - have been processed to death and have no vitality.

Know your source!


4/12/2013 11:25:15 AM

DMSGLASS's SparkPage
For those with celiac disease, these alternatives may not be beneficial for their health. My husband has to take B-12 shots because of being diagnosed so late in life with celiac disease that is body's ability to process B-12 through food or vitamin supplements is severely compromised. We went on a protein rich vegetarian diet for Lent and his dizziness symptoms returned, despite continuing his shots. So, he does absorb some B-12 from the meat products, just not enough. We still eat vegetarian meals a few days a week, but he cannot go six days a week without meat. Each person's body will respond differently. The thing to do is to listen to your own body.


4/12/2013 11:22:26 AM

JANE4041's SparkPage
I have always thought it funny how some people who don't want to eat meat want to eat tings that LOOK like meat....fake meat...huh go figure either eat it or don't...


4/12/2013 10:58:50 AM

Some good alternatives to meat!


4/12/2013 10:53:32 AM

Don't need to fake meat. Just eat vegetarian meals - they're delicious and healthy. And if you want to continue eating meat, then just eat less. I eat meat and vegetarian and love it all as long as it's made in a healthy manner. And once in awhile, we can all deal with a little guilty pleasure - but with no guilt!


4/12/2013 10:33:34 AM

These are seven great foods and very beneficial to our bodies. If you would like to know more about these foods this book is recommemded: 101 -BEST- Super Foods, by: Betsy A. Hornick, MS, RD.

Knowledge is power! I would also like to add Quinoa to the list of foods making it seven super foods.


4/12/2013 10:20:16 AM

SUSAN727's SparkPage
No thanks. I'll just eat smaller portions of meat. I am thinking of trying the black beans tho.


4/12/2013 9:57:58 AM

I like that you've listed tempeh as an alternative, but I'm really disappointed that tofu continues to be referenced as a substitute. Tofu is not fermented soy, and therefore our bodies are not allowed to digest it correctly. Also, soy has a negative affect on the hormones of both men and women. Also, most of the soy in the US is genetically-modified, making even less healthy.


4/12/2013 9:51:45 AM

What's the matter with organic, pastured, grass fed meat in moderation? Tofu is not healthy - it is unfermented soy (and possibly GMO).

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