I once brought my meat-lovin' grandma to famed New York City vegetarian restaurant Zen Palate. Since I knew the establishment well, she entrusted me to order something I thought she'd like. With steak being one of her faves, I ordered her some sort of crispy nut- and mushroom-based steak and barely heard a peep from her as she unknowingly enjoyed her meal. It was a victorious moment for someone who had dealt with grandma's snarky remarks about my own and my mom’s attempts at vegan/vegetarian recipes.
Sure, some over-processed mock meats are less than healthy, but there is something satisfying about tricking a hard-core meat eater into eating something flesh-free that they actually enjoy. Here's your guide to 10 mock meats.
Did someone say tofu satay? (Photo: Timmy [CC BY-SA 2.0]/Flickr)
Tofu is a more obvious meatless go-to but its feathery texture doesn’t always suffice for most meat-lovers. Better ways to serve the weary include deep frying it so it gets the golden, crispy skin akin to these delicious Thai-inspired chicken-less satay sticks.
Inrai sushi rolls
Craving sushi without the toxic side effects? Try veggie-friendly Inari rolls. The tasty deep-fried tofu is usually paired with flavorful pickled daikon, ginger, wasabi and soy sauce, so you won’t be missing the fishier picks.
If Duck a l’Orange is your thing, try seitan-based mock duck. Chewier than tofu, seitan (or wheat gluten) takes on a suspiciously real-like fowl texture. Popularized in Asia, you can find it on the vegetarian menus in Thai and Chinese restaurants but also in the supermarket.
A vegetarian’s heaven-sent edible, portobello mushrooms make a fabulous meat-substitute thanks to their thick and juicy texture. Grill ‘em to make burgers or sauté for a stir-fry.
Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
Textured vegetable protein's light crumbliness mimics ground beef or turkey to a tee. Brown it stovetop with your spices of choice to add to a mock meat spaghetti Bolognese, lasagna, tacos or chili.
Salad sometimes just ain’t the same without a dash of salty Bac-o’s. Vegans who hanker for the taste of pork, fear not — some bacon bits are meat-free.
Who can resist a burger? Make one minus the carbon emissions by making it with veggies — or pick up pre-made patties from a popular brand like Amy’s Kitchen or Sunshine Burger. With a wholesome bun, cheese and veggies to top, no one will notice it’s fake.
Thicker and firmer than tofu and seitan combined, tempeh makes for another excellent hearty, meat-mocking menu addition. It's bland by itself, but you can use the fermented soy structure as a base by adding more complex flavors to the mix like a grilled tempeh reuben sandwich on rye piled high with swiss cheese and sauerkraut. Mmm…
Made up of ground chickpeas or spiced fava beans and served with pita, tahini and hot sauce, Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern dish that’s hearty enough to fill even the hungriest of stomachs.
Quorn meat alternatives
If little Bobby or Jane (or let's face it — you) is missing tasty-yet-toxic McDonald's, give yourself a happier meal. Quorn mock chicken nuggets taste supremely similar to the real thing but are made with heart-healthy mycoprotein, the fungi found in mushrooms.
This story was originally written for TreeHugger by Jess Root and now lives on Mother Nature Network.