Here Are 5 Meat Alternatives For The Lenten Season
Meat has always been an integral part of the human diet. That is, until Lent rolls in and then suddenly everyone’s self-sacrifice manifests in the form of a plate of greens. But vegan jokes and vegetarian fad diets aside, science has shown that a plant-based diet is nothing to laugh at. So this Lent, get healthy (and holy!) with some of these plant-based alternatives that won’t leave you craving a cheeseburger!
As the universal meat substitute, we’ve given tofu (soybean curd) the number one spot on this list. Aside from its neutral flavour, the best thing about tofu is the fact that it comes in varying degrees of firmness and its texture changes as one cooks or freezes it. When cooked or dried, tofu becomes tougher, making it a more believable alternative to meat patties. It can be blended into a shake, frozen into a pop, or chopped into cubes and eaten as its own.
Tofu is also full of protein, iron, and potassium, which makes it a great meat alternative especially when paired with spices (or arnibal!).
While many enjoy jackfruit (langka) as a sweet treat or dessert ingredient, many more are beginning to see its potential as a meat substitute. Chefs claim that its versatility is key. While a ripe jackfruit has a “banana-pineapple hybrid texture”, an unripe jackfruit has the ability to provide a meatier texture that makes its taste and feel substantially similar to meat. And while a ripe jackfruit tastes sweet or sour, its unripe counterpart is starchy and somewhat savoury, allowing it to absorb the tastes of various spices.
Nowadays, jackfruit is being used in a range of dishes — most notably pork dishes — such as pulled “pork” barbecue sandwiches, tacos, enchiladas, and various curries. Its high fibre content is another point towards adding jackfruit to more mainstream diets and although jackfruit can be uncooperative during preparation, plenty of supermarkets nowadays it pre-packaged to make it easier for consumers.
Lentils are a type of legume that are high in protein and fibre but low in fat. Research shows that they’re also full of phosphorus, potassium, and folate, vitamins which help regulate blood pressure and muscle health. While there are many kinds of lentils, the most common ones come in brown, green, and red.
Brown lentils are the least expensive and usually work well as an additive in soups. Green lentils have a nuttier flavour and go great with salads while red lentils, milder and sweeter than green lentils, are usually used as purees. All are good meat substitutes that can be used to make vegan meatballs, burgers, and tacos.
Tempeh is an Indonesian food made from fermented whole soybeans. Although plenty of people think it similar to tofu, it actually contains less fat and has a firmer texture when compared. While plenty use it as an alternative to chicken (because its colour and texture is similar to that of chicken breast), it can also be barbecued or cooked with Italian sauces. Because of its neutral flavour and firm texture, it’s also the perfect complement to salad dressing and curry.
The scope of chickpeas extends beyond the boundaries of hummus, although that is one of its most famous recipes. A wonderful substitute for vegan burgers, chickpeas are also great as additives to salad, tossed along with feta or goat cheese. Its distinct texture and flavour are great for Middle Eastern and Indian recipes, which combine a melange of tastes to create rich depth and texture.
Chickpeas are also most famous for their high levels of folate, which is essential in cell division and absolutely necessary for pregnant women or women in their childbearing years.
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