Best Vegan Meat Alternatives Thumbnail Image
Best Vegan Meat Alternatives (Top Plant-Based Picks for 2024)
Let’s settle the debate about the best vegan meat alternatives once and for all
Published:
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Best Vegan Meat Alternatives Thumbnail Image
Best Vegan Meat Alternatives (Top Plant-Based Picks for 2024)
Let’s settle the debate about the best vegan meat alternatives once and for all
Published:
Loading reading time...
Best Vegan Meat Alternatives Thumbnail Image
Best Vegan Meat Alternatives (Top Plant-Based Picks for 2024)
Let’s settle the debate about the best vegan meat alternatives once and for all
Published:
Loading reading time...

Meat consumption is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Thankfully,  veganism has soared in popularity, increasing demand for plant-based alternatives to traditional meat.

This has catalysed the creation of a diverse range of plant-based meat substitutes that provide the same meaty texture and nutritional value as their animal-based counterparts.

These vegan meat alternatives come in various forms, from burgers and sausages to mince and deli slices. They are designed to imitate the taste, texture, and cooking experience of meat.

Brands have harnessed ingredients like soy, wheat gluten, and peas to create a flavoursome source of protein that even meat-eaters find enticing.

We have spent hours thoroughly examining and tasting the best vegan meat alternatives, aiming to identify those that satisfy in both flavour and texture, just like the real deal.

Each has a unique taste and nutritional profile, making it great for various dishes, from plant-based burgers to healthy stir-fries.

Best plant-based meat alternatives

We’ve compiled a sterling list of the top vegan meat alternatives. These plant-based delights are perfect for anyone looking to reduce their meat intake.

Join us as we explore these cruelty-free and environmentally conscious options.

Beyond Meat Sausage

If you’re aiming for that meaty bite with a conscience, these sausages won’t disappoint.

Pros

  • Meaty taste that’s spot on
  • Packed with protein
  • Less saturated fat than pork

Cons

  • May contain soy for those with allergies
  • Texture may be softer than expected
  • Some might find them a bit spicy

Grilling up Beyond Sausage is a breeze, and the sizzle on the pan is music to any barbecue lover’s ears. The aroma? Just like a traditional sizzler. We’ve tossed them into everything from a hearty Italian pasta to a robust Sunday fry-up and the outcome has been delicious every time.

The texture is king when tasting vegan meat substitutes, and this one impresses. While not quite as firm as your butcher’s special, it’s close enough that even our carnivore buddies were fooled until we told them it was fake meat!

Their spicy kick brought warmth to our dishes, pairing perfectly with robust flavours. We’ve found that adding a bit of char on the grill really heightens the experience, giving it that authentic touch. So, if you’re looking to spice up your meal—and your meat-free lifestyle—these sausages are a go-to.

Beyond Meat Classic Burgers

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We recommend these burgers for anyone craving a meaty experience but want to avoid animal products.

Pros

  • Rich in protein and devoid of cholesterol
  • Easy to prepare, with a convincing meat-like texture like a regular beef burger
  • Environmentally friendly with fully recyclable packaging

Cons

  • Pricier than other vegan alternatives
  • Can be a bit bland without additional seasonings
  • Limited to beef flavour, which may not suit all palettes

Beyond Meat’s Classic Burgers really hit the spot when our team fancies a plant-based barbecue. The texture feels just like a traditional beef burger, which is quite a pleasant surprise. We find each patty to be a hearty and satisfying source of protein, especially when piled with our favourite toppings.

Having these burgers thaw correctly is crucial by leaving them in the fridge overnight. Cooking them on a non-stick pan as per the instructions on the box ensures we get that perfect sear every time.

However, they could do with a bit more flavour variety. I often added to the taste with spices and vegan cheeses. Despite this, they’re a brilliant choice for anyone looking to reduce their meat intake without losing out on taste.

High time foods plant based chicken

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If you’re seeking a versatile and satisfying plant-based chicken, High Time Foods’ easy-to-prepare meat substitute is for you.

Pros

  • Excellent taste comparable to conventional chicken
  • High versatility for various dishes
  • Healthy content with low fat and rich in protein

Cons

  • May not mimic chicken texture perfectly for every palate
  • Limited availability in some areas
  • Preparation might be more involved than ready-to-eat options

Tucking into the High Time Foods plant-based chicken, we’re reminded of how much flavour can be packed into a vegan substitute. It’s delightful to have the option to mould the product into shapes that suit our cravings, whether it’s burgers or meatballs.

We’re also impressed with the ease of storage this vegan chicken offers. With no need to refrigerate, our cupboard space just got more valuable. Preparing meals quickly without compromising on taste has never been simpler.

Eating sustainably is important to us and this plant-based option checks that box as well. Yet it’s the health benefits that are the real cherry on top. We’re all about embracing that low fat, high protein content, and indulging guilt-free.

Verisoy TVP Beef

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We think you’ll love Verisoy’s Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) for its uncanny beef-like texture and versatility in cooking.

Pros

  • Mimics real beef remarkably well, both in texture and how it takes on flavours
  • High in protein and a great source of potassium – perfect for maintaining a balanced diet
  • Prepares in a flash, making it ideal for quick and easy vegan meals

Cons

  • The quantity may seem insufficient, considering the price point
  • Packaging warnings about reproductive harm can be unsettling for some
  • It might require a trip to a specialist or bulk store for better value

We’ve just whipped up a delicious stew using Verisoy’s Taiwanese Vegan Beef Slices, and the results were impressive. It rehydrates quickly and really soaks up all the savoury stew flavour. It feels almost like we’re tucking into a traditional beef dish.

Cooking a quick stir fry with these slices is a delight. The TVP not only adds a hearty feel to our veggie mixes, but the seasoning possibilities are endless. We found that a bit of soy sauce and a sprinkle of five-spice give it an authentic Asian twist.

We couldn’t help but notice that the pack seemed a tad small, especially when planning meals for the whole family. However, the high protein content and its authentic beef-like texture more than makeup for that. This is a must-try for anyone looking to enhance their vegan recipes.

Vegan bacon-less bits

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Savour the crunch and smokiness; these bacon-less bits add a punch to our favourite dishes, making them a must-have for plant-based foodies.

Pros

  • Mimics bacon taste superbly
  • Suitable for various dietary needs
  • Practical packaging keeps them fresh

Cons

  • Texture may differ from actual bacon
  • Could use a touch more saltiness for some
  • Not as tasty as fresh restaurant versions

Preparing a salad, we’re always looking for that extra zing. Enter the Vegan Bacon-less Bits — they bring a fantastically smoky note that’s just right. Whether atop our jacket potatoes or mixed into a warm soup, the flavour they impart is exquisite.

These bits are an absolute game-changer for our vegan friends missing that familiar salty kick in their meals. They crumble just fine over whatever we fancy, transforming a simple dish into something a tad more gourmet.

We’ve whisked these into scrambled tofu too, and they’ve added that sought-after crunch. Opening the resealable pack, we’re immediately greeted by that distinctive smoky aroma. It might not fool the most die-hard bacon lovers, but in our stir-fries and pastas, it’s hard to believe we’re not indulging in the real thing.

Primal Spirit vegan jerky

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We think you’ll love the variety and taste of Primal Spirit’s vegan jerky.

Pros

  • A flavor to match every craving
  • No preservatives or artificial ingredients
  • Each pack’s a good source of plant protein

Cons

  • Some flavors may not suit everyone
  • Slightly pricier than other snacks
  • Strong aftertaste on some options

Having just tried the Primal Spirit vegan jerky, we were impressed by the bold flavours. The classic taste in each bite felt like a treat for our taste buds without the guilt. It’s evident the brand has put thought into creating a snack that’s both healthy and indulgent.

Even during a busy day, grabbing a pack for a quick nibble gave us a much-needed protein boost. They were surprisingly filling, making them an ideal snack for on-the-go energy. Each pack’s convenience had us reaching for more.

We reckon you might find a favourite amongst the diverse selection. However, we didn’t adore every flavor, and the Mesquite Lime won’t be for everyone. Despite this, Primal Spirit’s jerky is a win for us, especially for keeping variety in our vegan diet. Give the sampler pack a go and decide which you fancy the most.

UnMEAT fish-free flakes

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We believe UnMEAT’s plant-based tuna is a tasty and convenient source of protein for plant-based diets.

Pros

  • Great for a quick meal
  • Full of plant-based protein
  • Sustainable and environmentally kind

Cons

  • Packaging can be tricky to handle
  • Not everyone’s keen on sunflower oil
  • A couple of cans might arrive dented

There’s a certain satisfaction in finding a cupboard staple that’s both nutritious and quick to prepare. UnMEAT’s plant-based tuna flakes fit the bill wonderfully. Whether you’re rustling up a sandwich, tossing a salad, or crafting a moreish pasta dish, it brings heaps of flavor without the fuss.

For those who aim to eat cleaner, the non-GMO ingredients and lack of cholesterol in this vegan tuna deserve a nod. It’s reassuring to know you’re biting into something that’s not just good for you but also kind to the planet. We tried it right out of the can, and it’s just as delectable warmed up—definitely a new favourite for on-the-go lunches.

It’s not all smooth sailing, though. Opening the can demands a bit of effort. Moreover, while we’re all for trying different oils in our food, not everyone may appreciate the taste of sunflower oil in their faux tuna.

Let’s face it: Receiving a dented can is a bit of a downer. However, given the overall quality and taste, these are minor blips in what is otherwise smooth sailing.

Beyond Beef plant-based ground

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If you’re seeking a tasty and versatile meat substitute, Beyond Beef is an excellent choice that’s good for the planet too.

Pros

  • Matches ground beef in recipes with ease
  • No cholesterol and less saturated fat than real beef
  • Free from GMOs, soy, and gluten

Cons

  • Can be more expensive than conventional beef
  • May not suit everyone’s taste
  • Some believe the ingredient list could be healthier

Cooking with Beyond Beef gave us a hearty, satisfying experience. The texture was spot-on, making it fantastic in lasagne and tacos alike.

You genuinely can’t tell the difference in recipes like shepherd’s pie.

Surprised by the rich, beefy taste, we found it to be a superb veggie burger. Grilling was a breeze, and it didn’t crumble apart—a win for any barbeque.

It’s clear Beyond Meat has put thought into their product. Substituting beef with Beyond Beef in our spaghetti sauce left us feeling nourished without compromising on taste.

However, some of us debated the health benefits of a few of the ingredients. A touch pricey compared to common ground beef, but for us, the environmental payoff tips the scales.

Vegan meat alternatives: buying guide

When making a purchase, it’s important to consider factors such as the quality of ingredients, protein content, and the nutritional label.

It’s essential to check if the product is fortified with vitamins and minerals, its sodium content, and whether it’s non-GMO or organic, if these aspects are important to your dietary choices. Texture and flavour also vary widely, so it’s worth sampling a few products to find your favourites.

Varieties

Vegan meat alternatives to look out for:

  • Soy-based: Tofu and tempeh are versatile and can be marinated to suit any dish.
  • Seitan: Made from wheat gluten and known for its chewy, meat-like texture.
  • Pea protein: Commonly found in vegan burgers, it can offer a succulent bite.
  • Mycoprotein: Derived from fungi, this offers a fibrous texture similar to chicken.
  • Jackfruit: Its pulled-meat consistency makes it a favourite in vegan pulled pork dishes.

Taste and texture

We want to find products that mimic the taste and texture of meat well. This can be subjective, so you may need to try a few to find your preference.

  • Taste: Look for a balance of savoury and umami flavours.
  • Texture: The product should have a satisfying chewiness without being overly tough.

Nutrition

It’s vital to check the nutritional content to ensure it fits into our diet.

  • Protein: A good alternative offers a high protein content. 
  • Vitamins and minerals: Some options are fortified with important nutrients like B12 and iron.

Ingredients

The shorter and more recognisable the ingredients list, the better.

  • Whole foods: We prefer products made with whole food ingredients like beans, lentils, and vegetables.
  • No additives: We avoid unnecessary additives and preservatives.

Price

Budget is a key factor in all diets so compare the cost per serving to estimate value. Unfortunately, plant-based products do tend to cost more than animal-based foods.

Environmental impact

As vegans, we often choose this lifestyle for its low environmental impact, so we look for:

  • Sustainable packaging: Eco-friendly packaging is a plus.
  • Company ethics: We appreciate brands that prioritise sustainability.

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Author

Rob Boyle
Rob built Emission Index to collect and share data, trends and opportunities to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and expedite the energy transition.

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