Whole Foods is predicting that faux meat products will continue to gain popularity in 2019 as more people look for meatless alternatives and companies make it delicious to dial down your meat consumption. Here are 10 must-tries.
Faux Meat: The Next Big Food Trend
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Whole Foods recently announced their food trend predictions for 2019 and—along with hemp food products and eco-conscious packaging—faux meat snacks made it on the list of what's going to be hot in the year ahead. Considering all the nutritional and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, it's no wonder more and more people are looking for meatless ways to round out their meals.
Rewind about a decade (or so) ago, and there were only a few widely available faux meat brands on the market. And, in terms of taste, texture, and ingredients, it was a very "love the one you're with" situation. Luckily, there's been a ton of innovation in that space since. (Read one writer's experience searching for the best meat alternatives money can buy.)
Disclaimer: There are tons of ways to make meatless meals satisfying and delicious without using fake meat products, but these products can be helpful when you're transitioning to eating more meatless meals, coping with a new allergy or dietary restriction, or just occasionally want a meat-free option that lets you have the same dining experience as the animal-based version.
But not all faux meats are created equal. This list is a product of my own research (and taste-testing) along with input from other dietitians, clients, and friends. Read on for 10 must-try faux meat products you can find at a grocery store near you or at your favorite online retailers.
Photo: Amazon // Amino / Shutterstock
Field Roast Apple Maple Breakfast Sausage
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The sweet-and-savory flavor combo in Field Roast Apple Maple Breakfast Sausages is adored by herbivores and omnivores alike. As a dietitian, I appreciate the short list of real-food ingredients like apples, ginger, maple syrup, and black pepper. The realistic texture comes from seitan, which is made of gluten, the main protein of wheat.
Just be mindful that if you're on a gluten-free diet, these aren't a good fit. Instead, try Hilary's Vegan Apple Maple Breakfast Sausage, which is made from millet and lentils.
Photo: Field Roast
Sweet Earth Foods Benevolent Bacon
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If you're missing pork bacon, Sweet Earth Foods Benevolent Bacon will fill the void. Enjoy this non-GMO, hickory- and sage-flavored protein with a tofu scramble, in a breakfast sandwich, or as an ingredient in other dishes like roasted veggies (you have to try it with Brussels sprouts), salads, or anywhere else you'd use regular bacon. Find it in your store's frozen or refrigerated meatless meats section. You can also find it at online retailers like Amazon.
Photo: Sweet Earth Foods
Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.
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If you're a jerky fan, you'll love the jerky from Louisville Vegan Jerky Co., which comes in flavors like Smoked Black Pepper, Smoked Chipotle, and Sriracha Maple. Each variety is made with locally sourced and organic ingredients. With 6 to 12 grams of soy-based protein per serving, you'll actually stay satisfied for a while. Bonus: They're also gluten-free.
If you want a soy-free jerky, try Pan's Mushroom Jerky, which is made from shiitake mushrooms. While it's lower in protein than soy-based jerky products, you'll get a good dose of fiber (about 7 grams) and about 50 percent of your daily vitamin D needs per 1/3-cup serving. (Related: Is Soy Actually Healthy?)
Photo: Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.
Lightlife's Vegan Bowls
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Lightlife's Vegan Bowls, found in the frozen food section at your local store or online, get their meaty texture from tempeh or textured soy protein. These vegan and non-GMO bowls are available in varieties like Mediterranean, Southwest, and Sweet Potato Shepherd's pie. They're great for busy weeknights or for making it easy AF to have a satisfying Meatless Monday lunch at work.
(Or meal-prep your own with these amazing vegan Buddha bowl recipes.)
Loma Linda Complete Meal Solutions
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If this list has you worrying about your fridge and freezer space, read on: Loma Linda's shelf-stable microwaveable plant-based meal solution packs are so "I can't even"-friendly for nights you come home exhausted and want a flavorful meal that's done in 60 seconds. Check out the Chipotle Bowl, Hearty (meatless) Beef Stew, Tikka Masala, or Italian Bolognese with Pasta when you need lightened-up comfort food that's also affordable.
Wary of the instant-meal life? Rest assured: Compared to a lot of other heat-and-eat items, these gluten-free, non-GMO, soy-based sustainable protein packs feature shorter ingredients lists made up of things you can actually recognize and pronounce.
Photo: Atlantic Natural Foods
MorningStar Farms Chik'n Nuggets
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Chicken nuggets are a classic comfort food, but MorningStar Farms Chik'n Nuggets give you plenty of reasons to skip the drive-through. This soy-based version has 12 grams of protein in each 200-calorie serving and has a satisfying taste and texture that both plant-based people and meat-eaters love. You can make them in the oven or in the microwave. Enjoy them on their own or as an ingredient in other dishes. They're widely available in grocery stores and from online retailers.
Photo: Morningstar Farms
Beyond Meat's The Beyond Burger
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My clients and fellow dietitians love Beyond Meat's The Beyond Burger. These plant-based patties (first launched in 2015) provide more than 20 grams of protein that comes primarily from peas (great news for people who suffer from soy allergies). To make it feel even more like a real burger, they also contain beet juice so the burger "bleeds" when you bite it, so to speak. (Yes, way!) They're also soy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO. Find it in the meat aisle at your local grocery store or on Amazon.
Beyond Meat's Beefy Beef-Free Crumbles
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If you're looking for a satisfying substitute for ground beef with an ingredients list that won't make your stomach turn, you'll love Beyond Meat's Beefy Beef-Free Crumbles. Like Beyond Meat's burgers, the protein (13 grams per serving!) comes from pea protein. Use them in veggie chili, meatballs, tacos, sauces, and more. You can find these in the frozen food aisle or online.
Photo: Beyond Meat
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These puffed vegetable snacks are essentially pork cracklings without the pork. Each variety of Snacklins is made from vegetables like yuca and mushrooms and spices. Aside from the savory taste and satisfying crunch, you'll also love that you can eat a whole bag for only 80 calories—a good choice to keep handy for those days you feel prone to stress snacking. (P.S. Steal these tips from vegan trainers for fueling your tough workouts.)
Daiya's Meatless Meat Lover's Pizza
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As a longtime fan of Daiya products, I started fangirling so hard over this pizza when I found out that in addition to being totally plant-based, it's also free of gluten, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts (not always easy to find in the vegan food world). When you just want a piece of pizza, Daiya's Meatless Meat Lover's Pizza is as close as it gets to the real deal. The cheese stretches and melts just like dairy-based cheese, and the meatless pepperoni and sausage crumbles satisfy your need for savory.
Photo: Daiya Foods