When you’re following a vegan or plant-based diet, finding good meat substitutes can often be a task. While there are many meat substitutes available today, most of them contain wheat — which is a major problem if you have celiac or just want to avoid gluten.
But don’t worry! There are plenty of plant-based proteins that will help you make the transition to a vegan diet safely. Here’s our pick of some incredible gluten-free meat substitutes that are healthy, easy to cook with, and super delicious!
1. Black Beans
Black beans, also known as turtle beans, are a type of legume. These beans are rich in protein and dietary fiber and offer a generous dose of antioxidants like anthocyanins, which makes them an excellent substitute for meat. They are widely available in ready-to-eat products for your convenience. Hilary’s Eat Well, for example, offers an irresistible black bean burger that is allergy-friendly.
You can also use black beans to make a mock meat or imitation meat burger at home. Just follow this recipe, and make sure to cook it in an air fryer for the best results. Or, you can use cooked black beans in burritos to enjoy a load of good-for-you nutrients on hectic weekdays.
2. Portobello Mushrooms (+ Various Veggies)
Did you know that many vegetables, which are naturally gluten-free, can replace meat? Portobello mushrooms, for example, can act as a good substitute for meat. These mushrooms have a satisfying chewy, meat-like texture and soak up flavors from any other spices and herbs you cook with. They’re also low in fat and contain nutrients like potassium, vitamin D, and fiber.
To use it as a substitute, simply grill or bake the mushroom with spices, then add it to your burgers, meat plates, and pasta dishes. Apart from mushrooms, there are many other fruit and vegetables, like jackfruit and cauliflower, you can use to replace meat. Get creative with your recipes to explore endless possibilities!
3. Lupin Protein
Lupin is another protein-rich legume that can work as a delicious stand-in for meat. This plant protein has a good dietary fiber content and is naturally gluten-free. And because it is suitable to cultivate, you can easily find it in organic food stores and vegan supermarkets as well as online.
Lupins are versatile, so you can use them to make patties, sausages, and more. However, keep in mind that lupins belong to the same plant family as peanuts. So, if you or someone you’re dining with has a peanut allergy, it’s best to explore other options to minimize the risk of life-threatening reactions.
4. Oat Flakes
You can use protein-rich oat flakes to prepare a variety of dishes that call for meat. Oat flakes are rich in iron and zinc and can provide you with carbohydrates and a decent amount of dietary fiber. This means they can keep you feeling satiated for longer, which can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy digestive system.
You can use oat flakes by themselves or combine them with other ingredients like vegetable broth, carrots, and other vegetable proteins to produce delicious cutlets. It’s an affordable and easily accessible alternative to meat.
Tempeh is an Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans. The soybeans are soaked and boiled with special bacterial cultures to produce a firm texture and fermented flavor. This soy-based product is rich in protein, has a high fiber content, and can hold its shape well when cooked, making it an excellent gluten-free alternative to meat.
You can use the firm, high-protein tempeh in almost any recipe that calls for meat. It is super versatile, but be sure to fry or steam it before slathering it with flavor-packed marinades, as it can have a bitter, unpleasant flavor. However, it’s important to remember that tempeh is typically gluten-free, but some companies add grains like wheat or added flavor to it. So, be sure to check the fine print or the ingredient list on the packaged food before purchasing.
6. Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is a popular and convenient substitute for meat. It is made with soy flour, which is defatted to remove the fat from the solvent, cooked, and then shaped into various shapes. It looks like flaky nuggets or chunks and has almost no flavor. So, you can season it with any of your favorite herbs, spices, and sauces to resemble the taste of just about any meat-based food!
You can use low-fat TVP nuggets to make irresistible recipes like meatless spaghetti sauce. Or get creative with any of these easy and delicious plant-based TVP recipes. Just be sure to use the right type (small or large chunks) of TVP for your recipe for the best results.
Tofu is a low-calorie source of plant-based protein that has been part of Asian cuisine for decades. It is made by blending soaked soya beans with water to form a puree, which is filtered and cooked to separate the soy milk from the pulp or fiber. The pulp is mixed with a coagulant to produce tofu. The resulting dish is practically flavorless and may not look or taste like meat.
However, you can still use it as a meat substitute. This is because tofu is incredibly versatile and absorbs the flavors of whatever you cook it with. So, you can easily use it as a stand-in for meat! You can marinate it, grill it, or fry it to golden brown perfection. You can even crumble it to make scrambled “eggs”!