The start of a new year is often used as a time to embrace something new. Vegan diets are becoming more popular and with more meat alternatives than ever available in the supermarkets, making a few switches to your diet has never been easier.
What is Veganuary?
Veganuary is a charity that encourages people to adopt a vegan diet in January and throughout the rest of the year. While the charity sets a challenge to go vegan for 31 days, you may want to simply try more vegan meals and see how they could fit into your lifestyle.
According to a poll, the number of Brits adopting a vegan diet has soared. It’s estimated that the number of vegans increased by around 40% in 2020, with around 1.5 million people following the strict diet. While vegans cut out all animal-derived products, from meat to dairy, there’s a growing trend of people dubbed “flexitarians”. A flexitarian refers to someone that has increased their plant-based meals but have decided not to eliminate meat or other animal products entirely from their diet.
There are many reasons why more people are adopting a vegan lifestyle or are actively choosing to reduce how many animal products they consume.
Animal welfare is a key reason why people become vegans, but others may choose a plant-based diet due to health reasons or to reduce their impact on the planet.
If you’re interested in a vegan diet, whether you want to try new foods or cut out all animal products, there are plenty of meat alternatives you can add to your dishes.
5 meat alternatives to try when cooking
If you’re new to trying vegan food, it can be hard to know what to replace meat with in your favourite recipes. There’s a whole host of vegan websites and recipes available online and these five alternatives can be used next time you cook.
Jackfruit has become a staple for meat-free diets. Its consistency is similar to shredded meat so it’s often seen on menus as a replacement for pulled pork. The flavour is subtle, so you can try using different spices and sauces when cooking. You can buy jackfruit fresh or tinned to suit your plans. This vegan pulled jackfruit recipe is a great place to start when trying this ingredient.
Tofu is made from soybeans and is one of the most common meat substitutes. It’s versatile, so you can bake, grill or fry it to make it part of a range of recipes. When you’re cooking with tofu, keep in mind it has a high water content. So, pressing the tofu before cooking to remove some of the moisture is a must if you want a crispy texture. This quick and easy sweet and sour tofu recipe delivers three of your five a day and tastes great.
Tempeh is similar to tofu and, while not as popular, it can give your meals a heartier taste. It has a nuttier flavour than tofu, so it can really add to your dishes, but it’s also more likely to overpower the spices and sauces you use. It can be grilled, fried or baked. If you want to give cooking with tempeh a try, these teriyaki canapés with a peanut dip are perfect.
Quorn is a meat substitute that originated in the UK and is a well-known brand. It’s derived from a natural micro-fungus – while that may not sound appealing, it’s a great substitute for meat in your meals. There are plenty of different Quorn options to choose from that you can directly substitute for meat. The chicken-style pieces or fillets, for example, can be directly swapped for chicken in a recipe, while Quorn mince is a great alternative when cooking family-friendly recipes like spaghetti bolognese or lasagne.
For many vegans, lentils are a staple part of their diet thanks to how versatile they are. They can add a deep flavour to dishes and complement many other vegetables you want to add, as well as mixing well with sauces. You can buy dried lentils in the supermarket or opt for a tin of them. This comforting spinach, sweet potato, and lentil dhal is a great option for winter nights.
These five options just scratch the surface of vegan cooking. There are plenty more substitutes and new ways to cook using vegetables to really enhance your dishes without using meat. As well as cooking from scratch with these ingredients, supermarkets offer an ever-growing selection of pre-prepared vegan meals that are great for seeing which flavours and produce suit you.