Meet 9 Meat-Free Alternatives You'll Love

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Alternatives. We all want them. Whether you want to figure out a different way to work out that keeps pressure off your knees or are looking for a lightened-up version of your favorite restaurant food, you want to be able to tweak things to your needs. For those on special diets, that might mean finding alternatives to carbs, sugar or saturated fats. If you are a soda addict, you might be looking for alternative ways to hydrate. And, if you're a vegetarian, vegan or are simply looking to eat less meat, you want to find alternative meat products that look and taste good, yet are still nutritious.
“Meat alternatives (also called meat analogues) can be a tasty and nutritious way to meet the body’s nutrient needs while incorporating more plant-based foods in your meal plan,” registered dietitian and certified health coach Becky Hand says. "Since the main role of meat is to provide the body with protein, this is the nutrient that should become your focus when selecting a meat alternative."
When working with her clients, Hand shares the following five selection tips:
  • Keep your eye on protein: Since a three-ounce portion of cooked meat contains about 20 grams of protein, make sure that three ounces of the meat alternative contains at least 10 grams of protein. Breakfast-type meats are often portioned in one-and-a-half-ounce servings, so make sure these contain at least five grams of protein.
  • Watch out for sodium. Meat alternatives often contain large amounts of sodium to enhance flavor. Aim for less than 450 milligrams in a three-ounce portion of meat or less than 250 milligrams in a one-and-a-half ounce portion of breakfast-type alternatives, such as sausage or bacon.
  • What’s the oil? Select varieties that list a healthy oil source in the ingredients, such as olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil or corn oil. All of these fats become liquid at room temperature. These polyunsaturated fats have been shown to help improve heart health and lower LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. Return to the shelf any product that contains highly saturated fats such as coconut oil, butter or lard. Overall, that three-ounce portion should contain no more than two grams of saturated fat.
  • Don’t fear the soy: While the internet is filled with "clickbait" regarding the dangers of soy, don’t be taken in by these scare tactics. There is no scientific evidence to support those claims. Soybeans are a great source of high-quality protein and work well for meat alternatives, along with other legumes and vegetables so do your research before ignoring soy as an option.
  • Buy and try. If you are new to the meat alternative arena, you may want to begin with a brand such as MorningStar Farms which is readily available in most markets. Then, become more adventurous by trying others that not only meet the nutritional recommendations provided here but also match your personal taste preferences.

A Better (Meatless) Burger

MorningStar Farms Grillers Original Burgers
If you're looking for a perfect burger substitute that meets nearly all of Hand's requirements, these grillers are a great place to start. With just 130 calories, five grams of fat, 16 grams of protein and 390 milligrams of sodium per patty, these veggie burgers deliver up plenty of that char-grilled burger flavor you crave, without any of the animal by-products.
Amy's Sonoma Veggie Burger
For more of that veggie flavor in every bite, consider Amy's veggie burgers. The Sonoma burger contains potatoes, mushrooms, celery, carrots, oats, quinoa, walnuts and other vegetable-based ingredients. One burger is just 140 calories with five grams of fat, five grams of protein and 450 milligrams of sodium. They are also certified gluten-free.
Gardein Chipotle Black Bean Burger
Meat-free and gluten-free, this delicious burger alternative from Gardein is great for your next grill out. Made with chipotle seasoning for a little kick of spice, these burgers also contain 140 calories, six grams of fat, 420 milligrams of sodium and six grams of protein.

Go Meatless in the Morning

Lightlife Smart Bacon
Often, vegetarians and vegans lament that they miss bacon the most when giving up meat. Luckily, there are many "fakin' bacon" substitutes available that can nearly pass for the real thing, starting with these veggie bacon strips by Lightlife. Add them to a side of toast for breakfast, eat them on their own or use them as a topping for your sandwiches or salads. One strip contains 20 calories, one gram of fat, 150 milligrams of sodium and two grams of protein.
MorningStar Farms Sausage Links
Add a meat-free protein to your breakfast with these veggie sausage links. In one serving (two links), you'll eat 80 calories, three grams of fat, 300 milligrams of sodium and nine grams of protein. Not a bad way to start your morning!
Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg
Just when you think there's no way you could find a suitable egg substitute, Follow Your Heart came up with one that gets rave reviews on Amazon. The egg mix is raw, vegan, gluten-free, kosher and more. All you have to do is whisk or blend the powder with ice water to use whenever an egg is called for, either in recipes or as a standalone meal or snack. Two tablespoons contain 35 calories, one gram of fat, 150 milligrams of sodium and three grams of protein.

Snacks & Crumbles

Primal Hot and Spicy Meatless Jerky
Made from shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, canola oil, seaweed extract and other vegetarian products, this meatless jerky is high on flavor, energy and protein. One package of jerky contains 108 calories, four grams of fat, 334 milligrams of sodium and six grams of protein. These snacks do not need refrigeration, making them great for on-the-go snacks to stash in your fanny pack or office drawer.
Lightlife Smart Ground Meatless Crumbles
If you're looking for a meat substitute that tastes like and has the texture of ground meat, these crumbles will make a great addition to a lot of recipes that call for ground meat. You can sprinkle them on top of your salads, cook them up in a chilli or use for Taco Tuesday. One-third of a cup contains 70 calories, zero fat, 320 milligrams of sodium and 11 grams of protein.
Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. Pete's Smoked Black Pepper
Take your jerky love up a notch with these gourmet flavors from the Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. The smoked black pepper is their most traditional flavor and was created with baseball great Pete Browning of the 1880's Louisville Colonels as inspiration. This jerky is salty, mild and contains just a tad of sweetness that will make you wonder if it's really vegan. Each one-ounce serving contains 70 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 500 milligrams of sodium and seven grams of protein. Keep in mind that it's a little over Hand's sodium recommendations, so you might want to eat a little less than a serving.
Which meat alternative products do you love?
We hope you love these products as much as we do. SparkPeople may collect a small percentage of revenue from the links on this page. Prices subject to change.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


DIAMONDGREEN680 4/8/2021
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstances. I give God all the glory for bringing Lord Zakuza into my life for helping me get my wife back that got me divorced for one year. I was the last person on earth to accept the fact that spells exist or work not until I was referred to Lord Zakuza online to who has helped so many people with his powerful spells. I had no other option than to give it a try because 3 months after the divorce, I was demoted at my place of work due to depression for I don't know what to do to get her back but thank God today for using Lord Zakuza to get my happiness and love life back within 48 hours. Just last week here, I was promoted back to my position and I'm here to share my own experience with this man called Lord Zakuza. I don't know what you are going through today but know that in all situation there's always a way out. Lord Zakuza also prepares spells like Lottery spell, job spell, spell to stop a divorce, spell cure for any diseases, protection spell, spell to become successful and wealthy E.T.C. Contact him now for any help via WHATSAPP MESSENGER OR TEXT on: +1 (740) 573 9483 and Email on: Report
SBSMOM1 1/30/2021
Tofu is usually my first choice, but every so often I crave a big juicy impossible burger. Report
RACHAEL2020 12/28/2020
Morning Star is great! Report
KELLY0226 9/20/2020
This article is great information for me as I developed a mammal meat allergy (beef, pork, venison, bison, elk) about 20 years ago. Learning to cook without using any mammal products (yes, I am one of the unlucky Alpha gal IgE allergy sufferers who also reacts to dairy) has been challenging, but achievable. Any suggestions for additional meat substitutes are very welcomed. Thanks! Report
Many great, handy alternatives. Report
Not for
Me Report
thanks for sharing Report
The Impossible Burger is my favorite and the Beyond Burger is amazing Report
Great article! Report
Great article! Report
Can't say I agree w/all these choices., Report
We like the Lifeline brand and Gardein is great too. Report
Great article. Thank you! Report
Restaurant veggie burgers often have nuts ir seeds. Report
thank you Report
some good ideas Report
Thanks so much for this article. I am trying to go meatless at least once or twice a week. Report
I can't eat legumes or grains of any kind, so this is a difficult option for me... Report
Thanks! Report
It would have been helpful to see ingredients for these meat analogues. Vegan foods can be a mine field for those with food sensitivities; nuts, legumes, and fungi are common triggers for migraine and IBS, for example.

Forget the sat-fat terror. More and more mainstream media are reporting that the base assumptions of the lipid-heart disease were flawed. https://

Butter is nutritionally rich, especially butter from grass-fed cows. It contains vitamins A,D, E, K, B12, and is also rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). It’s a mixture of long, medium, and short-chain fatty acids. Good butters include Kerry Gold and German Butter. I avoid hard white butters and choose those that are yellow and become soft very rapidly when out of the refrigerator. In comparison to butter, corn oil is a nutritional desert. Always look at the while food rather than picking out one element!

It is of concern that corn oil keeps bobbing up in the research literature as a carcinogen. It’s probation bly better to stick to cold-pressed oils packaged in dark glass, and then store them in a cool dark place. Light is a potentiator of rancidity. I confess that I do buy bulk olive oil in plastic from Costco; when we get home after shopping, we decant it into glass bottles. The best olive oils are cold-pressed extra virgin. The richer the colour and the higher the viscosity, the better. These oils have a bit of a bite. They’re rich in oleocanthol and other anti-inflammatory agents.

I’m unfortunately hypersensitive to legumes, nuts, and fungi, so I pay a fair amount of attention to my diet. Legumes and nuts trigger severe migraine attacks, while fungi set off IBS.
Very informative! Report
I’ll just stay with my usuals. Report
Interesting article. Report
Gardein is my favorite. and Beyond Burger is amazing! Report
There used to be a mushroom based "burger" for sale -tried it once couldn't find it since Report
Love, love, love seeing meatless suggestions. There should be lots more of these articles. It's great to have "instant" choices for days you don't feel like cooking from scratch.

I would love to see a "Meatless Monday" article added to the recipe emails we get. Report
Not worth it Report
These are very good:
Veggie-Burger-Vegan-4oz.pdf Report
I love almonds, unsalted of course. Report
I really love the Lightlife vegan hot dogs. Not exactly the same as a regular hot dog, but pretty darn close. and once you dress it up, you'll never taste the difference. Report
This blog cites a 12-year old article by Becky Hand about "the Science Behind Soy."

If you are going to use published information about a controversial topic - PLEASE USE CURRENT INFORMATION, NOT SOMETHING MORE THAN 10 YEARS OLD!!!!

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do some research on your topic - using any info that is this old is simply a lazy work ethic. Science is constantly discovering and/or proving theories. Why waste time on old information.

Another thing - much of the soy grown in the US is GENETICALLY MODIFIED.

/ Report
Beware of fake "food" Report
The Beyond Burger! Report
Items to consider. Report
Quorn products are great! Burgers, crumbles, chicken-like tenders, sausage....all great. Report
thank you Report
Thanks. Report
Thank you Report
Great alternatives! Report
Enjoy taking a meatless meal break every now and again. Thanx for some other alternatives, Sparkfriend. Report
I stay away from soy as research is unclear about the impact soy can have on menopause. Report
Thank you! Report
Thanks Report
I use the Lightlife Smart Ground Meatless Crumbles to make "beef"-a-roni for my son. He calls it fake-a-roni :) Report
Beyond Meat is also a good vegan brand Report
Thanks! Report
Interesting ideas! Report
I don't eat fake meat. If I am skipping meat it's for real vegetarian food. Report