Meat Substitutes: What’s the Deal With Tofu, Tempeh and Seitan?

vegan and vegetarian meat substitutes

There’s more to meat substitutes than tofu and tempeh. You don’t have to be a vegan or vegetarian to try some of our meat alternatives – maybe you’ll find a new favorite dish!

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You might love beef and broccoli or chicken fajitas, but there’s more to making a favorite meal than meat! In fact, from tofu to tempeh there are plenty of meat substitutes for vegetarians and vegans with added health benefits. Whether it’s meatless meat or plant-based protein, try one of these alternatives for your favorite meal. Be sure to share your own creations with other chefs on your favorite family app!

What Are Meat Alternatives for Vegetarians?

  • Eggplant – It may not be the most common veggie out there, but eggplant has versatility. With a meaty texture that you can grill, bake, or roast, this might make for one of the best meat substitutes!
  • Mushrooms – Button mushrooms won’t do, but the earthy flavor of a portobello mushroom is an able replacement for meat. You can use it in meatless recipes as diverse as sandwiches, burgers, risottos, and casseroles.
  • Tofu – Nothing rises to the top of the meat substitutes list like the soy-based vegetable protein of tofu! This food also happens to be versatile, so you can use it in everything from stir-fries and casseroles to curries.
  • Seitan – This wheat gluten protein is commonly used in many of the imitation chicken products on the shelves. Luckily, that also means that you can use it in a wide variety of meals as a chicken replacement!
  • Lentils & Beans – If you’re looking for a meatless food that has a high protein content, look no further than lentils! With 9 grams per half cup of cooked legumes, they’re one of the best foods around. Black beans and chickpeas also pack a powerful protein punch.
  • Tempeh – This soybean protein has a similar reputation to tofu. However, it has a nuttier flavor and a firmer texture. It even has probiotics because it’s fermented! When it comes to grilled food, It’s one of the best meat substitutes for vegans out there.
vegetarian chickpea pot pie

Vegetarian Chickpea Pot Pie

Delicious and hearty vegetarian pot pie
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people
Calories 412 kcal


  • 1 egg
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 3 tbs olive oil divided into 2 tablespoons and 1 tablespoon
  • 2 medium/large yellow onions finely diced
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup carrots peeled and finely diced
  • 3 stalks celery finely diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas drained
  • 2 tsp kosher salt plus more to add for taste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust


Vegetarian Chickpea Pot Pie

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat and add the potatoes. Cook in gently boiling water for 10-15 minutes, until they are tender and can easily be pierced with a fork.
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander.
  • Divide the potatoes into two medium bowls and mash half of them. Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, celery, corn, peas, chickpeas, parsley, thyme, and rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir.
  • Stir and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but still slightly firm.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix well.
  • Pour in half of the vegetable broth and stir.
  • Pour in half of the remaining vegetable broth and cook for about 2 minutes while continuing to stir.
  • Add in the white miso paste and stir well.
  • Pour in half of the remaining vegetable stock and cook for about 2 minutes while continuing to stir.
  • Incorporate the mashed potatoes and enough of the remaining stock to reach your desired consistency.
  • Add the diced potatoes and stir.
  • Pour the vegetable mixture into a 9-inch (23-cm) baking dish.
  • Use remaining olive oil on the outside rim of the baking dish, so the edges of the pie crust do not stick.
  • Top with the refrigerated pie crust, pressing the crust against the outside edges.
  • Beat the egg and lightly brush over top of the pie crust.
  • Make a small X-shaped incision on the top of the crust.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes or until the pie crust is golden.


Calories: 412kcalCarbohydrates: 60gProtein: 10gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 1471mgPotassium: 985mgFiber: 8gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 4273IUVitamin C: 48mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Are Meat Substitutes Bad for You?

It can be easy to think that simply choosing alternatives will make for a much healthier meal. However, the sodium content of many vegetarian meat options can impact its health benefits. When using any plant-based substitute, it’s important to be aware of the sodium content.

meat substitutes

Instead of choosing meat substitutes like burgers, sausage, and bacon, choose less-processed foods. The American Heart Association suggests that people minimize their intake of foods high in saturated fat, which includes processed vegetarian foods. Whole foods like beans, tofu, tempeh, and eggplant are healthy ways to incorporate meat substitutes into your life. Be sure to share your favorite vegetarian foods on FamilyApp!

What Are Some Meat Substitutes Recipes From Around the World?

Eating meat substitutes is about more than just tofu hot dogs, stir-fries, and seasoning. In fact, you can go around the world on a culinary adventure while sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet! If you’re feeling Italian, try an eggplant caponata flatbread with ricotta cheese. Spaghetti with grilled green beans, mushrooms, and parmesan can also be a treat. You may have to forego Mexican chicken enchiladas, but pineapple and black bean fajitas can make up for it! For those who love Asian food, vegetarian fried rice with mushrooms or Soba noodles with Japanese eggplant offers an indulgence. Share your own international vegetarian recipes on your favorite family app!

It can be hard for many people to think of foregoing their favorite meat and chicken dishes. But alternatives like seitan, tempeh, and even mushrooms offer up a world of possibilities! Just be sure you’re choosing whole foods and all their health potential.

Do you have any favorite meat substitutes? Share them with others in our comments! There’s no favorite dish you can’t make a little healthier with a replacement!

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