With veganism on the rise for a number of reasons, a wide variety of meat substitutes have appeared on the market. Everything from vegan beef to plant meat chicken has become available for use among vegan and vegetarian communities. Though nearly everyone agrees that biting into a pulled vegan pork sandwich isn’t the same as the real thing, many companies, grocery stores, and restaurants have gotten pretty darn close; but just whatis their chicken substitute made out of?
The answer, as with any recipe, varies depending on where you are and what you’re buying. That being said, there are a few staples that most vegan foods rely on. If you’re chowing down a vegan chicken sandwich, or are making your own chicken substitute salad (complete with vegan mayo), you’ll probably find one of these in your not-meat meat.
- Soy: Since meat contains a lot of protein, it makes sense that the main replacement would also contain a lot of protein. Soy is a common vegetable protein and is considered a “complete protein” because it has all of the essential amino acids that are crucial for human growth and development. Tofu is made out of soybeans, and is one of the most recognizable forms of the product. However, it’s rather neutral and bland in flavor.
- Lipids: That’s why we need lipids, or fats. The liquid or semi-liquid glycerides come from both plants and animals, but plant sources include soybean oil, olive oil, and canola oil. They don’t help the structure of the chicken substitute, by they greatly increase the palatability and make it more enjoyable to eat.
- Mycoprotein: If soy is not used, mycoprotein — a protein made from fungi that has a texture somewhat similar to meat — may be used. The manufacturer Quorn relies heavily on the use of mycoproteins in their products.
Research has shown that plant-based diets can reduce angina attacks by 90% within a few weeks, in addition to a myriad of other health benefits. Whether you’re pursuing the vegan (or vegetarian) lifestyle for ethical or medical purposes, it’s worth giving meat substitutes a try. You never know — you just might love it!