Meet 9 Meat-Free Alternatives You'll Love

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Alternatives. We all want them. Whether you want to figure out a different way to work out that keeps pressure off your knees or are looking for a lightened-up version of your favorite restaurant food, you want to be able to tweak things to your needs. For those on special diets, that might mean finding alternatives to carbs, sugar or saturated fats. If you are a soda addict, you might be looking for alternative ways to hydrate. And, if you're a vegetarian, vegan or are simply looking to eat less meat, you want to find alternative meat products that look and taste good, yet are still nutritious.
 
“Meat alternatives (also called meat analogues) can be a tasty and nutritious way to meet the body’s nutrient needs while incorporating more plant-based foods in your meal plan,” registered dietitian and certified health coach Becky Hand says. "Since the main role of meat is to provide the body with protein, this is the nutrient that should become your focus when selecting a meat alternative."
 
When working with her clients, Hand shares the following five selection tips:
  • Keep your eye on protein: Since a three-ounce portion of cooked meat contains about 20 grams of protein, make sure that three ounces of the meat alternative contains at least 10 grams of protein. Breakfast-type meats are often portioned in one-and-a-half-ounce servings, so make sure these contain at least five grams of protein.
  • Watch out for sodium. Meat alternatives often contain large amounts of sodium to enhance flavor. Aim for less than 450 milligrams in a three-ounce portion of meat or less than 250 milligrams in a one-and-a-half ounce portion of breakfast-type alternatives, such as sausage or bacon.
  • What’s the oil? Select varieties that list a healthy oil source in the ingredients, such as olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil or corn oil. All of these fats become liquid at room temperature. These polyunsaturated fats have been shown to help improve heart health and lower LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. Return to the shelf any product that contains highly saturated fats such as coconut oil, butter or lard. Overall, that three-ounce portion should contain no more than two grams of saturated fat.
  • Don’t fear the soy: While the internet is filled with "clickbait" regarding the dangers of soy, don’t be taken in by these scare tactics. There is no scientific evidence to support those claims. Soybeans are a great source of high-quality protein and work well for meat alternatives, along with other legumes and vegetables so do your research before ignoring soy as an option.
  • Buy and try. If you are new to the meat alternative arena, you may want to begin with a brand such as MorningStar Farms which is readily available in most markets. Then, become more adventurous by trying others that not only meet the nutritional recommendations provided here but also match your personal taste preferences.

A Better (Meatless) Burger
 

MorningStar Farms Grillers Original Burgers
 
If you're looking for a perfect burger substitute that meets nearly all of Hand's requirements, these grillers are a great place to start. With just 130 calories, five grams of fat, 16 grams of protein and 390 milligrams of sodium per patty, these veggie burgers deliver up plenty of that char-grilled burger flavor you crave, without any of the animal by-products.
 
Amy's Sonoma Veggie Burger
 
For more of that veggie flavor in every bite, consider Amy's veggie burgers. The Sonoma burger contains potatoes, mushrooms, celery, carrots, oats, quinoa, walnuts and other vegetable-based ingredients. One burger is just 140 calories with five grams of fat, five grams of protein and 450 milligrams of sodium. They are also certified gluten-free.
 
Gardein Chipotle Black Bean Burger
 
Meat-free and gluten-free, this delicious burger alternative from Gardein is great for your next grill out. Made with chipotle seasoning for a little kick of spice, these burgers also contain 140 calories, six grams of fat, 420 milligrams of sodium and six grams of protein.
 

Go Meatless in the Morning
 

Lightlife Smart Bacon
 
Often, vegetarians and vegans lament that they miss bacon the most when giving up meat. Luckily, there are many "fakin' bacon" substitutes available that can nearly pass for the real thing, starting with these veggie bacon strips by Lightlife. Add them to a side of toast for breakfast, eat them on their own or use them as a topping for your sandwiches or salads. One strip contains 20 calories, one gram of fat, 150 milligrams of sodium and two grams of protein.
 
MorningStar Farms Sausage Links
 
Add a meat-free protein to your breakfast with these veggie sausage links. In one serving (two links), you'll eat 80 calories, three grams of fat, 300 milligrams of sodium and nine grams of protein. Not a bad way to start your morning!
 
Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg
 
Just when you think there's no way you could find a suitable egg substitute, Follow Your Heart came up with one that gets rave reviews on Amazon. The egg mix is raw, vegan, gluten-free, kosher and more. All you have to do is whisk or blend the powder with ice water to use whenever an egg is called for, either in recipes or as a standalone meal or snack. Two tablespoons contain 35 calories, one gram of fat, 150 milligrams of sodium and three grams of protein.
 

Snacks & Crumbles
 

Primal Hot and Spicy Meatless Jerky
 
Made from shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, canola oil, seaweed extract and other vegetarian products, this meatless jerky is high on flavor, energy and protein. One package of jerky contains 108 calories, four grams of fat, 334 milligrams of sodium and six grams of protein. These snacks do not need refrigeration, making them great for on-the-go snacks to stash in your fanny pack or office drawer.
 
Lightlife Smart Ground Meatless Crumbles
 
If you're looking for a meat substitute that tastes like and has the texture of ground meat, these crumbles will make a great addition to a lot of recipes that call for ground meat. You can sprinkle them on top of your salads, cook them up in a chilli or use for Taco Tuesday. One-third of a cup contains 70 calories, zero fat, 320 milligrams of sodium and 11 grams of protein.
 
Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. Pete's Smoked Black Pepper
 
Take your jerky love up a notch with these gourmet flavors from the Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. The smoked black pepper is their most traditional flavor and was created with baseball great Pete Browning of the 1880's Louisville Colonels as inspiration. This jerky is salty, mild and contains just a tad of sweetness that will make you wonder if it's really vegan. Each one-ounce serving contains 70 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 500 milligrams of sodium and seven grams of protein. Keep in mind that it's a little over Hand's sodium recommendations, so you might want to eat a little less than a serving.
 
Which meat alternative products do you love?
 
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Comments

ROSSYFLOSSY 10/13/2018
Great alternatives! Report
SUNSET09 10/10/2018
Enjoy taking a meatless meal break every now and again. Thanx for some other alternatives, Sparkfriend. Report
JIACOLO 10/10/2018
I stay away from soy as research is unclear about the impact soy can have on menopause. Report
GABY1948 10/9/2018
Thank you! Report
_CYNDY55_ 10/8/2018
Thanks Report
BIKE4HEALTH 10/8/2018
thanks Report
CONTROUBLE 10/6/2018
I use the Lightlife Smart Ground Meatless Crumbles to make "beef"-a-roni for my son. He calls it fake-a-roni :) Report
KIATECH130 10/6/2018
Beyond Meat is also a good vegan brand Report
GABY1948 10/6/2018
Thanks! Report
NANCYPAT1 10/6/2018
Interesting ideas! Report
NELLJONES 10/6/2018
I don't eat fake meat. If I am skipping meat it's for real vegetarian food. Report
LIVINHEALTHY9 10/4/2018
Although they don't make burgers, I like the Quorn brand for Chick'n patties and Nuggets. They are really good. Report
MNABOY 10/3/2018
Good ideas Report
RHOOK20047 10/3/2018
interesting article. Report
DMEYER4 10/3/2018
thanks Report
KHALIA2 10/3/2018
Great article! Thanks! Report
ALUKOWSKY 10/3/2018
Boca Burgers are good too. Both Boca and Morningstar actually have about a half-dozen different varieties, some of which have as few as 70 calories/burger. Morningstar also makes crumbles that are less expensive than LightLife. Report
BABY_GIRL69 10/3/2018
I did enjoy meatless meals when I had them and was full afterwards too. Report
RAPUNZEL53 10/3/2018
Great. Report
FITWITHIN 10/3/2018
I'm a huge fan of the Black Bean Burger. Keep in the freezer all the time. I love adding it to my salad or even in my omelet for a little kick. Report
CHERYLHURT 10/3/2018
Great Report
ROBBIEY 10/3/2018
I have had a few veggie burgers for Aldi's that were good. The texture is off to me though. Report
LOTUS737 10/3/2018
The morningstar breakfast sausage patties are also great! We really like their buffalo chik'n and nuggets as well. Gardein's 7 grain chik'n tenders are amazing. Report
SPARKLED146 10/3/2018
I like the MorningStar products! Report
HEALTHYANDFIT27 10/3/2018
Thanks for the ideas! I have tried many Morningstar products. Their bacon satisfies my craving! Report
JANIEWWJD 10/3/2018
Awesome article!!! Report
MOONDRAGON29 10/3/2018
Great suggestions Report
KATHYJO56 10/3/2018
These are recipes worth trying Report
ZRIE014 10/3/2018
great Report