8 Delicious, Healthy Alternatives To Eating Meat

by Brett Wolf

So want to jump on a vegan diet, or a whole-food, plant-based diet, but you aren’t ready to rid yourself of all your favorite burgers and steaks just yet. Well have no fear, we have eight delicious and healthy alternatives to meat that will satisfy your carnivore-tooth, as well as a plant-based lifestyle. The great news is that pretty much anything you used to love eating can be made with plant-based ingredients. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity and you’ll be building your own tasty vegan and plant-based recipes in no time.

If you’re looking for more information to help with your plant-based diet, check out Z Living’s original show, The Big Fat Truth, where host JD Roth addresses the real reasons people struggle with weight, and gives them the tools to help transform their lives. For more healthy, whole food-plant based recipes, tune in to The Big Fat Truth Sundays at 8pm, only on Z Living.

Enjoy These 8 Healthy Alternatives To Meat:


1. Tofu


While tofu or tempeh typically doesn’t seem plant-based, it’s actually made from soybeans and can be used in all plant-based recipes. If you are looking for similar options, TVP (texturized vegetable protein) is similarly made from soy, and seitan is made from wheat gluten. The meat from any recipe can be replaced with any of these healthy alternatives to meat. Tofu is great for chicken dishes, while tempeh’s texture is perfect for a fish dish. Seitan is the most similar to beef or pork so don’t skip out on those BBQ Seitan Ribs next time you’re cooking. 

2. Jackfruit


While I’m sure most of you haven’t heard of jackfruit, it’s actually a delicious alternative to meat in savory dishes. It is technically a fruit, but you wouldn’t know it based off the texture and taste. You can buy it raw or already cut up in a can. While the flavor is slightly sweet (it is a fruit of course), it is generally used to make barbecue sandwiches and stir-fries. If you really want to get creative, try using it to make a Philly Cheesesteak.

Also on Z Living: This Is The Easiest, Tastiest Plant-Based Stir Fry Recipe Ever

3. Eggplant


Eggplant may be the most obvious vegetable to use as a plant-based alternative to meat, and there’s a reason for that—it’s a pretty perfect substitute. While a lot of people use it in parmigiana dishes, it's versatility extends well beyond. Grilled, chopped, pan-seared, used as a main ingredient, or a complement—there's a place in every meal for some eggplant.  

4. Lentils


Lentils have been on the forefront since vegan diets and the plant-based diets came onto the scene over the past few decades. They serve as a healthy alternative to meat, working as a great ground-beef substitute for most recipes. The best part is they are inexpensive, easy to cook, and a small amount can go a long way. Lentil burgers are a great way to ween off McDonald's, while lentil soup warms the soul, and lentil pasta opens you up to countless Italian recipes. 

Also on Z Living: Make This 5-Ingredient Lentil Pasta In 10 Minutes, For Less Than $15, For 5 People!

5. Beans and Legumes


Much like lentils, beans and legumes are healthy, filling, come in a wide variety, and very affordable. One of the most popular legumes to cook with is the chickpea. It can be used to make falafel, risotto, burgers, the list goes on and on. Of course beans make for hearty soups, stews, and chilis. Don’t forget about those delicious black bean burgers everyone is talking about.

6. Quinoa


Quinoa is an extremely popular healthy alternative to meat, because of it’s high protein content and rich in nutrients. One cup of cooked quinoa has over eight grams of protein and comes with all the necessary amino acids our bodies cannot produce on their own. Make sure to rinse it well before you cook it and have fun experimenting with all the different dishes you can create from that tiny little seed.

Also on Z Living: Give Quinoa A Try With This Delicious Quinoa-Stuffed Pepper Recipe

7. Cauliflower


Cauliflower is not just that “white” and “bland” vegetable you are thinking of. When seasoned and cooked the right way, it can actually be the most exciting part of any dish. Some of your favorite unhealthy foods like buffalo wings and pizza can be made with cauliflower as a healthy meat alternative. Time to re-think everything you thought you knew about that “bland” vegetable and get to cooking.

Also on Z Living: 3 Vegan Recipes To Substitute Meat

8. Beets


For those of you who like beets, you already know they go great with so many dishes. They truly are nature’s candy— sweet and savory, but also very earthy, and gastronomically versatile. Beets are great as burgers, carpaccio, and can even finish off a great meal as chocolate frosted cupcakes

Now that we’ve given you a great list of healthy alternatives to meat, you can clearly see that when it comes to replacing meat, the possibilities are pretty much endless. Time to get rid of the mindset that vegetables are side dishes. Make them the star of your vegan and plant-based recipes and we promise your cravings for meat will soon be a distant memory.


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