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 6:42:40 AM

So glad to see legumes featured prominently, more prominently than highly processed meat analogs!


8/23/2012 4:54:15 AM

Tofu, prepared well, is really not only delicious, but nutritious as we all know or are learning. I've found that if you press the water from tofu with a Tofu press, or a heavy plate and a rock, that odd taste that you find with tofu can miraculously disappear! Once you press the water out, you can make a simple teriyaki sauce, mexican sauce, or any other sauce that you prefer (mandarin orange is my favorite). Fried lightly in peanut or toasted sesame oil and put in a bowl along with brown rice and veggies is a winner! I understand that you don't like Tofu, Davvik, but I hope at some point, you find it palatable. If not, whole grains and legumes are an excellent substitute! Best luck with all your vegan/vegetarian dishes!


8/23/2012 4:14:04 AM

sounds good.


8/23/2012 2:50:48 AM

FIT_ARTIST's SparkPage
TVP is a processed form of tofu. Leave it out of you're diet.


12/19/2011 9:00:10 AM

So glad you are featuring vegetarian/vegan options.


4/2/2010 8:09:57 PM

52DIANE's SparkPage
Having grown up on a cattle ranch we had some kind of meat daily and usually three times a day, however, since I became an adult I now affiliate with a specific religious group which encourages a vegetarian lifestyle (for health reasons and for the sake of the animals) I have grown to love not only the flavor of all vegetarian foods but also how I feel as a vegetarian. I never have that heavy sleepy feeling after having eatin a big T-bone steak but rather after I've consumed vegetarian foods, wether it be a vegetarian analog or just vegetables I feel recharged and ready to go again until the next meal. I love it.
I have only learned of the vegan vegetarian in the last 7 years; so I am attempting to move to the vegan life style because when you eat any meat or animal by product you are taking cholesterol in to your body and most of us know what cholesterol does to our arteries. I just want to live a long and healthy life and enjoy the good foods along the way. As I have said befor "I love food but I do not want to sacrifice my health for my taste buds." And may you too live a long and healthy life.


3/16/2010 12:20:31 AM

CARLARCO's SparkPage
very helpful


3/14/2010 1:22:07 PM

I agree with ILLINITEACHER52 as far as stretching the budget with beans and stuff!!! I have to say that I have swapped mostly to beans, legumes, lentils for non-meat protein... and since I have, I just haven't been as interested in meat, especially red meat... I realize too that I don't need as much protein as I thought sine using SP - I used to eat about 15-20 oz a day (which is hard on the pocket book)... After reading this, I might try TVP, but I have avoided a lot of soy... I have had 2 personal trainers and a RD tell me that Soy products can increase estrogen levels - and that's the last thing I need (especially when fat and estrogen are so finely linked)... I might even cross back over (was vegan for 1 year, vegetarian for 3 years) to the VEGGIE-side soon...


3/5/2010 7:25:47 PM

DAVVIK's SparkPage
i don't like most soy by products (most because of soy sauce, miso ext). It does not matter how it's prepared, I have tried it may ways at many places. I also have not liked any of the fake meats I have tried. People who are posting about how one should better prepare tofu ext in order to enjoy it please realize there must be a food you dislike and no matter how it is prepared you, or how many people tell you its good, you will still not like it.


3/5/2010 5:29:38 PM

I've been a vegan for 11 years, and I'd never go back. There are simply too many awesome reasons to make the switch.

Among them are the health and taste of vegan/vegetarian foods! Anyone who hasn't given meatless and dairy-free foods a chance is missing out on a whole new culinary experience.

And yes, there's the tofu controversy. I think it's important to get some of the water out of it first. Do this by wrapping it in clean paper towels or a clean dish towel for a little while so the water gets absorbed. Also be sure you're using the right tofu for the right thing. For example, silken tofu can be used in milkshakes and pudding, but not in stir-fry. Try firm or extra firm regular tofu for stir-fry.

Tofu is really an amazing wonder food. Even my omnivore husband loves tofu when I make it. The key is really to learn to make it right. It could take a few tries, but I'm sure anyone can get tofu to come out right. Even if it's just throwing it in the blender with some pudding mix, it's very doable to cook with tofu.


3/5/2010 9:11:54 AM

JULIA75's SparkPage
Very helpful, thanks! I didn't know about tempeh or TVP.


3/3/2010 8:56:30 PM

Ballroom16- It did say "religious OR..." The article covered three reasons. I believe that the reason you mentioned landed under "personal reasons" (which I agree with!), but if the article ere to say, "personal reasons" only, would that be leaving people out?


3/3/2010 5:26:31 PM

BALLROOM16's SparkPage
I wish you hadn't said "religious, health, or personal reasons." One can be compassionate--refusing to eat slaughtered and suffering animals--without being "religious."


3/3/2010 11:43:46 AM

JAYDEL15's SparkPage
I find I'm eating less and less meat simply as a matter of taste. And I feel better, too. I don't mean I have given up meat, just that an 8 ounce piece of meat can be used in three meals instead of one sitting.


3/3/2010 8:47:04 AM

Love it! I am not a big meat fan.

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