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    21 Meat Alternatives You Should Be Cooking With

    And 84 ideas on how to use them!

    1. Cauliflower

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Roasted Cauliflower and Farro Salad

    General Tsao's Cauliflower

    Curry Roasted Cauliflower

    Christmas Cauliflower Steaks

    2. Wild rice

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    No-Meat Balls

    Naosap Burgers

    Wild Rice No-Meat Loaf

    Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Pistachio Stuffing

    3. Beetroot

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Goat Cheese and Beet Pizza

    Veggie Sliders

    Beet Tartare

    Golden Beet and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

    4. Avocado

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Open-Faced Power Breakfast Sandwich

    Veggie Sushi Bowl

    Avocado Veggie Panini

    30-Minute Avocado Skillet Pizza

    5. Nuts

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Spicy Cashew Lettuce Wraps

    Vegetarian Nut Loaves

    Raw Vegan Walnut-Chorizo Tacos

    Peanut Noodles with Napa Cabbage

    6. Aubergine

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Vegan Stuffed Shells with Roasted Eggplant

    Crispy Eggplant Parmesan Subs

    BLT with Eggplant Bacon

    Sauteed Eggplant with Spicy Miso Sauce

    7. Beans

    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!

    Get the recipes:

    Black Bean Burger Patties

    Broccoli and White Bean Lasagna

    Miso Kale and Black Bean Burritos

    Spicy Edamame Burgers

    8. Cheese

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Grilled Cheese Chop Salad

    Mushroom and Brie Sausages

    Grilled Halloumi Tacos

    Indian Style Paneer Pizza

    9. Quinoa

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Quinoa Cakes with Lemon, Garlic, and Parmesan

    Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

    One Skillet Southwestern Quinoa

    Mexican Quinoa Bake

    10. Lentils

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Ultimate Green Taco Wrap

    Protein Packed Vegan Sloppy Joes

    BBQ Lentil Boazi

    Lentil Shepherd's Pie

    11. Tofu

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Simple Tofu Chilaquiles

    Superfood Green Collard Wraps

    Sesame Tempura Tofu Stir Fry

    Zucchini Wrapped Mini Vegan Quiches

    12. Sweet potato

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Sweet Potato and Asparagus Cakes

    Sweet Potato and Feta Dinner Skillet

    Sweet Potato and Feta Galette

    Curried Sweet Potato and Farro Salad

    13. Egg

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Loaded Huevos Rancheros Tacos

    Egg Fu Yung

    White Pizza with Pecorino, Scallions, and Egg

    Asparagus Spaghetti with a Fried Egg

    14. Tempeh

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Lentil and Tempeh Lettuce Wrap

    Buffalo Tempeh Wings

    Vegan BLT

    Tempeh Fricase

    15. Polenta

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Baked Polenta and Tomato Salad

    Grilled Polenta with White Beans and Tomatoes

    Mini Polenta Pizzas

    Peppered Polenta Stacks

    16. Artichokes

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Artichoke and Green Olive Sausages

    Artichoke Gratinata

    Spring Pizza with Artichoke, Leek, and Fennel

    Quick Linguini with Artichoke

    17. Chickpeas

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Tomato, Olive and Chickpea Quesadillas with Dill Yogurt Dip

    Curried Chickpea Pot Pie

    Zucchini Noodles with Arrabatia Chickpeas

    Chickpea Ratatoulli

    18. Squash

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili

    Savoury Squash Crepes

    Kale and Roasted Red Kuri Squash Salad

    Grilled Vegetable and Hummus Tart

    19. Cabbage

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    Kohlrabi Scallops

    Kimchi Grilled Cheese

    Simple Vegetable Paella


    20. Mushrooms

    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!

    Get the recipes:

    Vegan Portobello Pizza

    Mushroom Spring Rolls

    Shittake Bacon

    Mushroom Tacos

    21. Jackfruit

    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.

    Get the recipes:

    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.