Meat substitutes – more choice than ever

Meat substitutes – more choice than ever

In the United Kingdom, the average person consumes 80 kg of meat a year. Reducing our meat consumption would not only be better for our health, but also the environment. Nowadays, there are so many tasty alternatives. Read on to find out more about them...

A sausage intended to bring peace

It’s no secret that global meat consumption has a huge environmental impact, so it’s a good job that we now have a tasty and sometimes unusual selection of alternatives. These plant-based foods have the same protein content as meat products and can therefore cover our protein requirement. The taste and consistency of these products are also crucial, of course, but the challenge for many manufacturers is to make them look as similar as possible to their meat equivalents.

The soy sausage that you can now find as a classic meat substitute in many supermarkets looks particularly realistic. Did you know that this sausage actually made its début in Germany around a hundred years ago? The former German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, cooked up this soy-based ‘peace sausage’ with a high protein content to alleviate serious food shortages after the First World War. That way, many people could be fed despite the meat shortage.

Choosing and preparing meat substitutes

The history of tofu goes even further back. This firm soya curd has been an integral part of Japanese cuisine for centuries. Over here, you can usually find tofu in a block that can be cut into strips or cubes. It can be used plain, seasoned or marinated and added to soups, salads or sauces.

Shops frequently sell dried soya chunks, which are softened up in stock first and then fried. The chunks are great for making vegan mince, e.g. for burgers. You can also find pea protein burger patties that look just like hamburgers. They’re really juicy and by no means inferior to their meat-based equivalent.

Another alternative is jackfruit, which grows in tropical countries such as Brazil and has been used as a meat substitute in its unripe state for years. Its fibrous flesh makes it ideal for dishes that usually contain pulled meat, such as burgers or tacos. In contrast to tofu, jackfruit contains vitamins and minerals and fibre, but unlike soya products, it has a meagre protein content.

Something for everyone

Nowadays, there is a huge variety of foods for vegan meat fans. In addition to tofu, jackfruit and pea protein, there are also a few less-known alternatives:

  • Seitan is made from wheat protein and water. When seasoned with herbs or spices such as rosemary or paprika it tastes great as a meat substitute (in gyros, for example).
  • Tempeh is an Indonesian food made of cooked and fermented soybeans. It has a nutty, mushroom-like flavour.
  • Lupin protein is made from lupin hulls. It is very rich in protein and is therefore commonly used in protein shakes.
  • Unprocessed black beans make a tasty addition to vegetarian and vegan stews by providing a spicy/smoky flavour.


Now, it’s easier than ever to reduce our meat consumption thanks to the wide variety of alternatives. Many of the foods listed above contain just as much protein as their meat-based variants and are very similar in terms of taste and consistency. So, why not try a tofu burger sometime?