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5 Tasty Proteins to Replace Meat in Your Everyday Meals

Plant-based alternatives to eggs, beef, chicken and pork make a healthy addition to your diet

Mushroom vegetarian burger on a bun.

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En español | Healthy, hearty alternatives to meat are proliferating. The best part? These plant-based proteins absorb the flavor of whatever you cook them in, making them extremely versatile. Here's a guide to some options not concocted by modern food scientists in a laboratory. (I'm looking at you, fast-food veggie burgers!) These traditional ingredients are starring in trendy new dishes.

Mushrooms

Protein: Earthy, umami-rich fungi; white button and portobello are easy to find in markets

When to use: Grilled for sandwiches and salads, stuffed with cheese, sautéed for pastas

Pro tips: Instead of rinsing, clean with a damp paper towel; cook low and slow.

Tempeh

Protein: Cooked and fermented soybeans formed into a cake; nutty and chewy

When to use: Sliced, to replace bacon (in BLTs), or crumbled like ground beef (for tacos)

Pro tips: Cut into thin strips, then marinate before cooking.

plant-based meat alternative meals

JOHNNY AUTRY

Top: Caesar salad with marinated tempeh and barbecue jackfruit sandwiches. Bottom: Grilled portobello mushroom burgers, seitan fried “chicken” and southwest tofu scramble.

Seitan

Protein: Vegan protein made from wheat gluten and water

When to use: Marinated and baked in slices, breaded and fried in strips, or grilled on kebabs

Pro tip: Watch out for high sodium content in packaged versions — or make your own.

Jackfruit

Protein: A large green fruit with spiky skin, it adds a meaty texture

When to use: Barbecued like pulled pork for sandwiches; chili; Asian-inspired dishes

Pro tips: Buy it canned (packaged in water); the skin can be tough to cut.


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Tofu

Protein: Condensed soy milk pressed into white blocks; bland flavor on its own

When to use: In lieu of eggs in breakfast scrambles; in stir-fries or smoothies

Pro tips: First, press out water with paper towels; next, marinate tofu as called for in a recipe.