For many people, myself included, switching to a plant-based lifestyle is not always an easy one. Early on during my plant-based journey, I found myself missing the foods I could no longer eat. Unfortunately for me and other early plant-based dieters, the first vegan versions of the foods I missed most left a lot to be desired. This led me to seek out more recipes created by chefs who weren't just looking to create poor imitations of foods I could no longer eat, but more robust and flavorful alternatives that highlight the plant-based ingredients within them. Vegan imitations or replacement foods have improved quite a bit since then, so I've opened up to foods like plant-based burgers and other vegan meat, but my favorites are still plant-first foods.
When switching to a plant-based lifestyle, it's essential to reconsider your perspective on what really makes a meal. I think many people who eat meat don't consider a meal filling or satisfying without meat, but living plant-based has taught me that a vegan meal can surprise you with just how satisfied you feel by the end. My favorite recipe ingredients that ensure a delicious and filling meal are eggplant and mushrooms. Eggplant is loaded with nutrients and incredibly versatile as it can take on nearly any flavor and be prepared in a variety of ways, depending on your preference. Grilled eggplant is a great way to create a visually appealing and savory centerpiece for a meal. But when it comes to bringing that savory umami flavor to your dish, there's no better option than mushrooms. There are many types of mushrooms, making it easy to add an earthy or meaty flavor to just about any recipe. Whether it's cremini, shitake, or sliced oyster mushroom, the taste you can get with these tasty fungi may surprise you. By focusing your meals around more savory flavors and vegetables, you can also make it easier to avoid more processed foods.
For alternatives to meat that are closer in taste and texture, the most popular recommendation is often tofu. While I enjoy tofu, I much prefer some of the more recently popularized options like jackfruit or seitan. These are both great blank canvases like tofu and can take on a variety of flavors, but their textures are much closer to the texture of meat. Both jackfruit and seitan make excellent barbecue substitutes, too, which is great if you're looking for more plant-based summer grilling options.
While there are a number of exciting new vegan “meat” companies, let me recommend my number one vegan "meat" source: Modern Meat. This Vancouver-based company produces excellent vegan products that make great alternatives to foods like burgers, meatballs, and even crab cakes. Their products are available in PlantX's Meal Delivery Service, so you won't even have to trouble yourself cooking them. Although the development of meat alternatives has had some missteps, the menu for vegans and other plant-based lifestyles continues to add more and more delicious possibilities.