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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8/23/2012 2:04:19 PM

SNOWYOWL56's SparkPage
I've had all of these and tofu is a winner for me. Tempeh can be good or just strange. Fresh tofu and tempeh can be delicious but take a while to make from scratch. I'm off gluten and TVP, Seitan are made from gluten. I also agree that these substances are a not a substitute for meat.


8/23/2012 12:48:38 PM

Good slideshow, although right... sodium can be a big issues with highly processed meat substitutes. The other concern is GMO soy; read your labels carefully! Morning Star, for example, along with Boca, use GMO soy in their products. I'm a big believer in whole foods, such as the lentils, beans, and rice!


8/23/2012 12:36:46 PM

We eat that stuff.


8/23/2012 12:04:26 PM

ANGELA557's SparkPage
I'm a carnivore, but love lentils, black beans, etc. don't care for tofu or other "fake meats", just saying, to each their own. I don't have a problem with other people eating it, I just don't care for it.


8/23/2012 11:36:32 AM

I agree with RHEYNKLAW. These are not "mock meats." They are delicious foods in their own right and should be promoted as such.


8/23/2012 10:45:23 AM

RHEYNKLW's SparkPage
PIDDYCAN, you can cook beans from dry with zero added salt or buy no- and reduced-salt canned versions, most tofu is low in sodium, and TVP is nothing but crumbles of soy protein (again, no added salt), so the assertion that someone on a low-sodium diet can't eat vegan is completely untrue. YES, things like prepackaged veggie burgers, veg deli "meats," and the like are full of the stuff, but a) they are not ideal vegan food, b) processed food in general is high in sodium, and c) if the rest of someone's diet is low-sodium whole foods, there is room for 470mg from a Boca Vegan patty (that's the actual amount.)


8/23/2012 10:38:52 AM

RHEYNKLW's SparkPage
Great suggestions, and I agree that seitan is conspicuous in its absence, but why do these tasty, nutritious foods have to be considered "mock meat?" They are perfectly wonderful for exactly what they are, not just as stand-ins for animal carcass.

We are culturally biased toward eating meat, and I understand that that will not be transformed overnight. However, perpetuating the notion that if you don't eat meat, you have to find something meat-like to replace it makes changing that paradigm even more of an uphill battle for those of us who are working to change it.


8/23/2012 10:36:59 AM

PIDDYCAN's SparkPage
All these p[products are poison to anyone on a highly restricted sodium diet. Just saying... healthy depends on who you are talking to.


8/23/2012 10:08:42 AM

Really...NO mention of seitan??? People are amazed when I serve up seitan bratwurst or seitan chorizo, at my table. Even seitan pots tickers, in vegan pasta wrappers. All this takes is imagination.


8/23/2012 9:32:33 AM

Seitan wasn't on the list! It tastes like anything you cook it with and has the texture of ground beef. I had it last night!


8/23/2012 9:15:03 AM

For people with thyroid problems, one must be careful to avoid soy.


8/23/2012 9:11:10 AM

ATETE2013's SparkPage
Im begining to learn more about foods since most of these foods are not available to me.


8/23/2012 7:56:04 AM

TRYINGHARD54's SparkPage
I think everyone has a right to decide what they want to eat. If you want to be a vegan, thats great. If a person wants to eat meat thats great also.. what ever works for them and what ever they enjoy eating... I never tried tofu. but I might someday....I have tired veggie burgers. they werent to bad..


8/23/2012 7:25:17 AM

LEANMEAN2's SparkPage
Some of these are new to me.


8/23/2012 6:51:04 AM

I would suggest seitan over TVP.

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