21 Meat Alternatives You Should Be Cooking With

And 84 ideas on how to use them!

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Why use it: Cauliflower is fibrous and provides a complex texture to give a dish substance, and soaks up marinades and spices to give your meal a full and hearty flavour.

What to do with it: Grill it, bake it, or sauté it in curry spices and marinades. You can opt to leave it in its original shape or mash it into a patty.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Farro Salad

General Tsao's Cauliflower

Curry Roasted Cauliflower

Christmas Cauliflower Steaks

Why use it: A serving of Naosap wild rice offers 7g of protein and 12% of your daily fibre, and when used as stuffing or to create meat-like cakes adds a filling consistency to your meal.

What do with it: Create fillings for casseroles, stuffed vegetables, and wraps, or use it as the base for a dough to create burger patties, balls for pastas and subs, and loaves.

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No-Meat Balls

Naosap Burgers

Wild Rice No-Meat Loaf

Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Pistachio Stuffing

Why use it: It's high in fibre and detoxifying – the benefits of using a beetroot-based sandwich filling will provide rich nutrients for your system.

What to do with it: Use slices on pizzas and sandwiches, combine with other veg into patties, or create elegant Beet Tartare appetisers. Combine your beetroot with a serving of protein to get the most out of your meal.

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Goat Cheese and Beet Pizza

Veggie Sliders

Beet Tartare

Golden Beet and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

Why use it: Avocados are rich in the proteins, fats, and enzymes supplied by meat, and will satisfy your cravings and your tastebuds.

What to do with it: Use large bites in salads, and slice or spread for sandwiches. They also make great additions to chilli, pizza, and savoury pies.

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Open-Faced Power Breakfast Sandwich

Veggie Sushi Bowl

Avocado Veggie Panini

30-Minute Avocado Skillet Pizza

Why use it: With a variety of textures and flavours to choose from, nuts provide many beneficial nutrients comparable to meat, including proteins and healthy fats.

What to do with them: Marinate them overnight in sauce for a soft and meaty texture in stir fries and stews, grind them into mince for tacos, crush and pack them into loaves, or roast and use them to top soups and salads.

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Spicy Cashew Lettuce Wraps

Vegetarian Nut Loaves

Raw Vegan Walnut-Chorizo Tacos

Peanut Noodles with Napa Cabbage

Why use it: Aubergine aka eggplant has a consistency that has seen it used as a convincing an natural meat substitute for centuries.

What to do with it: Mash it, fry it, sauté it, bake it; it makes an excellent filler for pastas, can be mashed for patties and balls, served up on its own, or sliced and fried to a crisp for a veggie BLT.

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Vegan Stuffed Shells with Roasted Eggplant

Crispy Eggplant Parmesan Subs

BLT with Eggplant Bacon

Sauteed Eggplant with Spicy Miso Sauce

Why use it: Beans give a grounding heartiness to your meal, are high in protein, and provide many different varieties, tastes, and textures to play with.

What to do with it: Mash them into veggie-burger patties, use them to fill burritos, sandwiches, salads, and pasta, turn them into a mean soup, or enjoy all on their own!

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Black Bean Burger Patties

Broccoli and White Bean Lasagna

Miso Kale and Black Bean Burritos

Spicy Edamame Burgers

Why use it: With protein, calcium, and healthy fats, cheese provides needed nutrients while also filling density to your meal.

What to do with it: Fry cutlets to go with your salad or use thick cheeses like halloumi or paneer to fill out any wrap or sandwich. Get creative by making cheese-based veggie sausages, or go more classic by using cheese as the main topping on pizzas and flatbreads.

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Grilled Cheese Chop Salad

Mushroom and Brie Sausages

Grilled Halloumi Tacos

Indian Style Paneer Pizza

Why use it:Quinoa is protein-rich and crazy-easy to cook. A versatile texture allows it to "beef" up any meal.

What to do with it: Make cakes to eat over salads or in wraps and burgers, combine it with your tomato sauce for a more textured and hearty spaghetti, or use it to add density to your veggie minces and casseroles.

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Quinoa Cakes with Lemon, Garlic, and Parmesan

Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

One Skillet Southwestern Quinoa

Mexican Quinoa Bake

Why use it: Lentils are a strong alternative protein source, and are also virtually fat-free, making them a great meat alternative for lean eaters. Texturally they can sub in well for minces.

What to do with it: Use lentils to create juicy fillings for tacos, pot pies, and dumpling, or use them to thicken up veggie chili.

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Ultimate Green Taco Wrap

Protein Packed Vegan Sloppy Joes

BBQ Lentil Boazi

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Why use it: Protein-rich, and with a mild natural flavour and absorbent texture, tofu soaks up all the good flavours of your dish and adds some filling bulk.

What to do with it: Mince it, crumble it, or use cubes or rods to add a melt-in-your-mouth element to any meal.

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Simple Tofu Chilaquiles

Superfood Green Collard Wraps

Sesame Tempura Tofu Stir Fry

Zucchini Wrapped Mini Vegan Quiches

Why use it: Fibrous, hearty, and flavourful, sweet potato can save any flimsy dish.

What to do with it: Mash and bake it into savoury cakes, or use cubes or disks in scrambles, pies, and salads to add texture and substance.

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Sweet Potato and Asparagus Cakes

Sweet Potato and Feta Dinner Skillet

Sweet Potato and Feta Galette

Curried Sweet Potato and Farro Salad

Why use it: An egg or two adds a protein boost, calcium, healthy fats, and a juicy, savoury flavour to any dish.

What to do with it: An egg is good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Serve a fried egg over grains or in tacos and sandwiches; alternatively, boil and chop into salad or scramble them up for a filling meal.

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Loaded Huevos Rancheros Tacos

Egg Fu Yung

White Pizza with Pecorino, Scallions, and Egg

Asparagus Spaghetti with a Fried Egg

Why use it: Tempeh is a patty made from cooked and fermented soy beans, making it protein-rich and a slightly denser option than its relative tofu.

What to do with it: Fill wraps or sandwiches, or marinate, fry, bake, or sauté larger portions for a hearty skillet meal or finger food.

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Lentil and Tempeh Lettuce Wrap

Buffalo Tempeh Wings

Vegan BLT

Tempeh Fricase

Why use it: Polenta's main strength is its texture and versatility. It can sate cravings for meat or fill the hole on a plate where a steak might go.

What to do with it: Commonly served as a creamy mash, polenta can also be grilled, fried, or baked into a more solid form to create cutlets and rich bite-sized morsels to make your meal unique and hearty. Serve with protein-rich sides, like avocados, cheese, or eggs for a balanced plate, or use it as the main ingredient in savoury appetisers.

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Baked Polenta and Tomato Salad

Grilled Polenta with White Beans and Tomatoes

Mini Polenta Pizzas

Peppered Polenta Stacks

Why use it: Fibrous and flavour-packed, artichokes are a great main ingredient to sub in where some recipes call for chicken or pork.

What to do with it: Add roughly cut chunks to casseroles, pizzas, and pasta, or crush and create unique sausages and patties.

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Artichoke and Green Olive Sausages

Artichoke Gratinata

Spring Pizza with Artichoke, Leek, and Fennel

Quick Linguini with Artichoke

Why use it: Chickpeas are high in protein and have a full, meaty texture that makes them an easy substitute in almost any recipe.

What to do with it: Serve them cold in salads and wraps, or sauté or bake them for pastas, casseroles, curries, and pot pies. Get creative and pop them into quesadillas or breakfast scrambles, or go classic with a falafel or hummus spread for sandwiches, wraps, and salads.

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Tomato, Olive and Chickpea Quesadillas with Dill Yogurt Dip

Curried Chickpea Pot Pie

Zucchini Noodles with Arrabatia Chickpeas

Chickpea Ratatoulli

Why use it: With a fibrous texture and juicy flavour, squash adds a punch and is a good textural sub for meat in most cases.

What to do with it: Chop into cubes, disks, or rings to complete any salad, casserole, or stew.

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Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili

Savoury Squash Crepes

Kale and Roasted Red Kuri Squash Salad

Grilled Vegetable and Hummus Tart

Why use it: Tender and flavourful, cabbage will fibre and heartiness to your plate. And can be subbed where recipes call for chicken, pork, and fish.

What to do with it: Use kohlrabi for ingenious veggie scallops, shred and dress for a pulled-veggie sandwich, or roughly chop cabbage heads to add substantive bites to veggie paella or pasta.

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Kohlrabi Scallops

Kimchi Grilled Cheese

Simple Vegetable Paella


Why use it: Mushrooms take flavour with ease and provide a tender and hearty texture, plus a healthy dose of protein to sate your cravings.

What to do with it: Sauté or bake them for pizzas, sandwiches, and wraps. They can also be fried crisp and used for veggie BLTs and breakfast plates!

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Vegan Portobello Pizza

Mushroom Spring Rolls

Shittake Bacon

Mushroom Tacos

Why use it: Jackfruit is a fibrous miracle fruit from India that offers a shredded, tender consistency to give any dish fantastic texture.

What to do with it: Slow cook or toss it in your favourite sauces and seasonings and add to salads, sandwiches, and pastas, and be happy.

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BBQ Pulled "Pork"

BBQ Jackfruit Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

Buffalo "Chicken" Salad

Chipotle Jackfruit Carnitas

PRO TIP 1: Combine any number of these hearty meal-fillers to create your own unique patties, sausages, and loaves!

PRO TIP 2: It's not as versatile as the ingredients on our list, but coconut does make a mean bacon for salad and soup toppings.