When transitioning into a vegetarian diet, it can be hard to figure out how to adjust to that diet to fit your needs. Going from a diet with meat as the center piece to most dishes, it's hard to navigate around this new lifestyle. That being in said, a common concern among all early vegetarians is "how can I get enough protein in my diet?"

Enter meat alternatives. Meat alternatives makes it easy for vegetarians and vegans alike to create dishes that seem complete and filling. Today, I'm rating 3 popular meat alternatives to help early vegetarians figure out what alternative will be the best for their taste buds.

In order to take as much variation out of the rating as possible, I created 3 stir fries with the same ingredients, the only variation being the "meats". The stir fry contains jasmine rice, green onion, peas, spinach, broccoli, and a teriyaki sauce made of soy sauce, agave/ maple syrup, garlic to marinate the protein in (store bought sauce will also do just fine).

Keep in mind, each of the meat alternatives chosen will absorb the taste of what it is cooked with. 

Emily Rice


Tofu is the most common protein thought of when the word "vegetarian" is brought up. Essentially mashed up soy beans, tofu comes in a variety of types, such as silken, soft, firm, and extra firm. The tofu chosen for this dish was extra firm since it is dense enough to hold its shape while sliced and fried.

The type of tofu you buy matters. For example, silken tofu is used in smoothies for a creamy texture, if I were to try and use that for a meat alternative in a dish it wouldn't be able to hold its shape. Extra firm is generally good for meat substitutes. Tofu also does an excellent job in retaining the flavor of what it is cooked with, it held the teriyaki flavor perfectly. Where tofu looses a lot of its appeal is the texture.

With meat alternatives, texture is everything, being that it is ideal for our alternative to still have a "meaty" texture. The best way to describe the texture of tofu is fluffy egg whites. While I have long since gotten used to the egg white feel of tofu, it is understandable that new vegetarians could be scared off by this protein.

I would rate this 3 out of 5 stars

Emily Rice


Tempeh is like tofu's more talented and mature sibling. The issue is tempeh is much lesser known! I've been a vegetarian for four years and just in the last 9 months I've been introduced to this meat alternative. Since tempeh is made from fermented soybeans verses mashed soybeans like tofu, the beans hold their shape and form and interesting texture. Tempeh's texture is, for lack of a better word, curdy. While it is still not a meaty texture necessarily, the texture makes it much more interesting in dishes and more enjoyable to eat. Tempeh retains the flavor of what it is cooked with, but to a lesser extent than tofu. Tempeh has earned a 4 out of 5 stars from me.

Emily Rice


Jackfruit is different than tofu and tempeh since it is not a soy product. Jackfruit is a fruit that, like most meat alternatives, soaks up the flavor of what it is cooked with. Jackfruit has a very tender and meaty texture, it's like if meat was cooked in a crockpot. If jackfruit was a real meat, it would be the "fall off the bone" and "melt in your mouth" type. While jackfruit does soak up the flavor of what it is cooked with, it has the same issue that tempeh has.

Because of how believably meaty jackfruit is, it has earned a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Meat alternatives makes the vegetarian and vegan diet that much easier to accomplish, and while it is important to not rely on these foods to leave our bodies completely nourished, a little meat alternative never hurt anybody.