As omnivores, humans are designed to eat meat. It’s one of the precious few things that can legitimately be classified as a food group, but, let’s face it, the meat we eat today is not what it used to be. Processed meat is filled with additives, preservatives, and other unnatural ingredients, not to mention the amount of land it takes to produce it. So, next time you reach for a burger, consider swapping it out for one of the following options. Chances are, they taste better and are just as satisfying—and healthier. Take a look below at some of the foods that can make it easier to cut meat from your life.
If you eat meat, meatless meat is a great plant-based swap. It’s high in protein, low in calories, and very versatile. 10 years ago, meatless meat was not widely available, but nowadays there are many brands, from Quorn and Linda McCartney to Beyond Meat and Meatless Farm. Many of these meatless meats are made of plant proteins such as pea, soy, and mushroom, and bound together by plant-based oils such as coconut and shea.
You can slowly ease into the switch to veganism by making a few simple swaps to your meat-centric meals. Meatless meat is a nutritional powerhouse (it’s high in protein, vitamins, and minerals) and can be used in just about any recipe calling for meat. Of course, you can’t expect it to taste or feel exactly like meat, but advances in recent years have made meatless meat almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
Plant-based eating isn’t for everyone, but for those meat-eaters who want to move away from anything remotely meaty at all, halloumi is a great alternative. Halloumi is a traditional Cypriot cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, but it can sometimes also be made of cow’s milk. This makes it unsuitable for vegans, but it’s perfect if you’re a meat-eater looking to cut down on meat.
Affectionately known as squeaky cheese, halloumi has a uniquely squeaky texture. It has a high melting point, meaning it doesn’t turn to liquid like other cheeses when heated. This means it can easily be fried or grilled, perfect for making kebabs or placing in a burger. Be aware that if you’re aiming to be a vegetarian, some halloumi is curdled using rennet (the stomach acid of cows, which can only be obtained by killing the cow), so look for rennet-free halloumi.
Jackfruit may look strange, but open it up and you may be pleasantly surprised. Commonly described as having a sweet banana/pineapple aroma, this fruit native to India and southern Asia is now far more widely available than it used to be. However, it can take some preparation to use it as a meat-alternative, and the protein content of the fruit is not significant, so protein supplements may be needed.
As a quick and easy way to jazz up a salad, boiled young jackfruit can be used to add some texture. In Asian countries, it’s commonly used in curries and side dishes and as fillings for cutlets and chops, but in the rest of the world, it’s commonly used as a pulled-pork alternative. Pulled pork is a difficult texture to replicate using meat alternatives, but jackfruit has a unique pulp that holds its structure even when cooked, making it uncannily similar to the texture of pulled pork.
It’s easier than you think to introduce more plants into your life, and even if you’ve been eating a meat-heavy diet for years, these simple swaps can make a real difference. Eating less meat is good for you, and switching up your diet is well worth the time. People have different preferences for nutrition, and vegetarianism is a healthy choice for some people due to the high nutritional content of vegetables. Switching to a meatless diet is easy, and switching to a plant-based diet is easier than ever before.