Once again I am delving into the world of veganism. I am fascinated by the vegan recipes I have seen recently- especially ones that mimic the taste and texture of meat. Although I appreciate how veganism is a step in the right direction, I still identify as a "reducatarian," or someone that is becoming more conscious of their consumption without eliminating it completely.  Now I must say not all of these six vegan swaps are completely vegan, but some modifications can be to make them 100% vegan. In my opinion, adding dairy into these recipes makes them a little more palatable. 

Meat Sauce

Meatless bolognese sauce has recently become one of my new favorite pasta dishes. As far as meaty "umami" flavor goes I can't say that the mixture of walnuts and mushrooms taste like red meat, but the texture is almost identical. If you are looking to up your spaghetti and meatball game I’d recommend trying out this vegetarian bolognese sauce the next time you’re cooking pasta.

Plant-Based Chicken

Deliciou is probably the most versatile meat swap I’ve ever tried. Similar to chicken, Deliciou can be used in a wide variety of meals from chicken pot pie to chicken nuggets. This substitute also has the most unique form; it comes in powdered shreds that you rehydrate with oil and water. Like many other meat substitutes, the flavor isn’t exactly the same as chicken but with the right seasonings it comes pretty darn close. Deliciou’s website has dozens of recipes to help you decide how to prepare this chicken substitute including my favorite way: butter chicken.

Meaghan Contois

Jackfruit

Jackfruit is, as the name suggests, a fruit that is typically eaten in Asian countries. When ripe the fruit is extremely sweet and has a powerful smell but when the fruit is unripe and canned it makes an awesome meat substitute. I tried making jackfruit tacos and was shocked at how similar the texture of the jackfruit is to shredded chicken. This substitute also makes a delicious pulled "pork" slider when you add barbecue sauce and toss it on a bun.

Bacon

For some people bacon in the morning is an essential part of their day, but is actually pretty easily replaced with a plant based alternative. In recent years many brands have come out with bacon alternatives that contain solely plant based protein, such as Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon. This alternative packs 10 grams of protein per serving and has 75% less fat than your average pork bacon. I tried out the hickory and sage flavor and while the texture doesn’t quite compare to the real thing, the smokey flavor that I look for in bacon is definitely present. The texture of this plant based bacon is similar to breakfast sausage and it doesn’t really fry up like normal bacon. But considering the environmental and health benefits associated with eating the plant-based vs normal bacon, I think that it’s a great swap.

Ground Beef

Meatless meat crumbles possibly rank number one in terms of looking the least appetizing but they are definitely one of the most seamless substitutes you can make. I tried Trader Joe’s beef-less crumbles. The brand was relatively inexpensive and they were extremely easy to cook with, and substitute well for real meat crumbles. I typically use ground beef in tacos, chili, and on nachos and when I used the beef-less crumbles for those recipes, I could hardly tell the difference. The texture is spot on and the crumbles themselves have a beanie sort of taste to them so they blend well into tacos, chili, and nachos. 

Burgers

Last and certainly not least the easiest meatless meat swap you can make is an Impossible Burger. If you are someone who appreciates the texture, taste, and smell of an old fashioned cheeseburger then look no further than this swap. Impossible Burgers have gained a lot of well deserved attention recently, in my opinion Impossible meat is as close as it comes to real meat. Slap a piece of cheese on top of an impossible burger and you'll hardly notice a difference. Of course, if the texture and taste of meat is not what you’re looking for I’d recommend the Morning Star veggie burgers. They have a wide variety of savory flavors that are sure to spice up your next barbecue. Impossible Burgers are readily available at many grocery stores so the next time you have a cookout, try swapping a red meat burger for an Impossible one.

Whether it's jackfruit on taco Tuesday or a veggie burger at a cookout, consider swapping meat for one of these substitutes; it'll help the environment and potentially your health!