Top 9 Meat Replacements For Vegans To Satisfy Your Cravings

A plant-based method of enjoying the taste and sensation of eating meat, but without animal cruelty. 


The topic of meat replacements is often met with a bit of debate amongst the vegan community. Some argue that you shouldn’t try to replicate the taste and texture of meat, and non-vegans often use this as an argument against veganism. If that sounds like an absurd argument, that’s because it is. People think that this proves meat is tasty, so veganism is pointless. Clearly, the whole point of veganism is not to show that meat doesn’t taste nice, it’s to help save animals and the environment by adopting a plant-based diet. 

Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with craving meat as a vegan. After all, most vegans start adopting this diet after years - possibly even decades - of eating meat. So, it’s natural to crave things like burgers, steaks, fried chicken, duck, and everything else. This is where meat replacements come in; they provide you with a plant-based method of enjoying the taste and sensation of eating meat, but without animal cruelty. 

With that in mind, here’s a list of the top meat replacement options out there right now to satisfy your vegan cravings:


Jackfruit is one of the most interesting fruits to gain popularity in recent times. It has definitely wandered into the public eye because of the vegan movement, largely due to its role as a wonderful meat substitute. What makes this fruit interesting is that it can be shredded up and used to replicate a whole host of different meats. Plus, it takes on lots of different flavors and has a neutral taste on its own. So, it offers the perfect base for spices and marinades, further making it taste like meat. 

A few years ago, you’d have to search long and hard to find jackfruit. Now, it’s available in cans from most grocery stores. Buying the canned variation is recommended as it’s much easier for you to prepare. You can even buy some in pouches that are already shredded and seasoned, making your life even easier. If you want something to replicate pulled pork or shredded chicken, jackfruit is a brilliant option. 


Almost everyone that turns vegetarian or vegan will soon develop a love for mushrooms. They do get a lot of hate, particularly from younger generations. However, the more you have them - and the more you learn how to cook them - the tastier they become. Plus, the natural texture of mushrooms makes them an ideal replacement for various meats. 

Obviously, there are loads of different mushroom types out there for you to choose from. Typically, king oyster mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms are the best options. King oyster mushrooms are popular because of the way they shred apart and can replicate pulled pork or chicken extremely well. Shiitake mushrooms are often chosen because of the health benefits associated with them. Yes, they also pull apart well and can be a good replicate for bacon, shredded duck, or shredded beef. Primarily, shiitake mushrooms provide you with lots of nutrients to support your overall immune health. In fact, they are so effective that you can even buy shiitake capsules if you don’t enjoy mushrooms. Combine the health benefits with the taste and texture of these mushrooms and it’s easy to see why they’re a popular mean substitute. 


Lentils are wonderfully diverse and can be an excellent meat replacement for minced beef. The texture of lentils - particularly when combined with sauces and cooked down - can really give you the richness of a ragu. This is why it is commonly used in vegan bolognese or chili recipes. Again, you can buy lentils in basically every grocery store you’ll walk into. Canned versions exist and are pre-cooked so they just need to be warmed through, which is perfect if you’re in a rush. Dry lentils need a bit longer to cook and are probably better for your budget. 

Effectively, you can use lentils whenever you’re looking to cook something that has mince in it. Bolognese or ragus aren’t the only options - you can cook lovely vegan lasagne or pies using lentils as well. 

Pea or soy protein

No doubt you have seen the dramatic rise in vegan burgers, sausages, minced meats, chickens, and so on. Every shop will have a vegan section with loads of these options available for you to choose from. The majority of the time, these vegan meats will be made out of pea or soy protein. Other ingredients are also used - including mushrooms, lentils, beans, etc. - but pea or soy protein is the key thing that gives the food its meaty texture. 

The benefit of meat replacements including these ingredients is that they are extremely good at replicating the real thing. Have you ever been out and tried a vegan burger from a restaurant or street food vendor? If so, they will likely use a soy or pea protein patty, and you will barely be able to taste the difference between it and a regular burger. The great thing is, food companies are getting even better at creating the right texture from pea or soy protein, so the replacements are even more accurate. Some common brands that sell meat substitutes using pea or soy protein include Beyond Meat, Moving Mountains, Squeaky Bean, and many more. 


Tofu is one of the oldest meat replacements around and has been a staple in Asian cooking for generations. It’s made from congealed soy milk and is really good at picking up and adapting different flavors. The key is to get firm tofu as it has more bounce to it to provide a meaty texture. You can chop it up and use the cubes to replace chicken chunks in curries, stews, or anything else you can put your mind to. 

Tofu is also sometimes used as a fish replacement, largely thanks to the way it takes on flavors and can be infused with the tastes of the sea. These days, you will find so many different tofu products online and in shops, including breaded tofu ‘chicken’ nuggets, straight to wok tofu, and much more. 


Consider tempeh the cousin of tofu as both are made from soybeans. The difference here is that tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, which already provides a benefit as fermented products are good for your gut. Again, tempeh can adopt different flavors with ease, which is why it can be used to replace chicken, beef, and even a lot of roast meats. 

The most common uses for tempeh are definitely as bacon or beef/pork strips. For this reason, it’s often used in stir-fries or as part of a lovely vegan breakfast. Of course, you can get creative with it, and there are lots of tempeh products available as well. One brand sells flavored and pre-prepared tempeh that you can instantly add to your meals to give it that meaty texture and flavor. 


We mentioned soy and pea protein before, but seitan is basically wheat protein. It’s sometimes called vital wheat gluten, and you can make it yourself at home. However, if you prepare it incorrectly and don’t knead it thoroughly, it has a sponge-like texture instead of the meaty chew you’re looking for. So, buying already made seitan is the better option just to ensure you have the best meat replacement option. 

Seitan is used to substitute so many different types of meat, and it is commonly seen as a chicken substitute. Some restaurants, like popular Japanese eatery Wagamamas, will use tempeh to replace chicken in dishes like Katsu curry. It is incredibly versatile and you can do so much with it. 



Yes, believe it or not, watermelon can be used as a meat replacement. The video above showcases this perfectly, using a glazed watermelon on a BBQ grill to create something that’s sticky, meaty, and absolutely delicious. Also, watermelon has been used as a replacement for tuna in the past, which is excellent if you used to be a fish lover!

Why does watermelon work when it really shouldn’t? Experts think it’s for similar reasons that jackfruit works as a meat replacement. Both fruits are pretty fibrous, so they take on a meaty texture when cooked. Also, with watermelon, the nature of the fruit means it can soak up a lot of flavors, which further adds to the meatiness. 


Lastly, we have mycoprotein. This is a protein that’s actually made from fermented fungi spores! That doesn’t sound very appetizing, but it can create a very meaty product when combined with the right ingredients and flavors. You’re not likely to find mycoprotein on its own, ready for you to create your own meat replacement foods. Instead, it is typically sold by the brand Quorn, which does a range of different meat substitutes. 

As you can see, there are so many different meat substitutes to choose from! The best advice is to try as many of them as possible but to try and eat the natural ones more than the processed ones. Things like mushrooms, lentils, watermelon, and jackfruit will be better for you than the others as they don’t need to be processed to form a meat-like substitute.