Veggie meat has been sold in grocery stores for many years, but it has only been recently that more people have been willing to give it a chance. The main reason for this is the new recipe formulas used to give it a better texture and flavor. However, since it now tastes more like the real thing, it makes those who try it a little suspicious of the ingredients. This article should help clear things up though, so more people will want to switch to a vegetable-based diet.
The main ingredient in most types of meat alternatives that are made is soybeans. They are ground up and processed into a thick paste. But since this paste wouldn’t make a very appealing meat substitute, the texture is changed with a natural ingredient, such as citric acid or lemon juice. It makes the soy paste thicken and have a chewy texture. Sometimes, just the thick skin that forms on top of heated soy milk is used instead of soy paste. This is called “soy isolates.”
Some forms of veggie meat use wheat instead of soy. It gets firm and thick when water is added to it. So it can be sliced and sauteed in a similar way to real meat.
Some of the best veggie meat products are made with legumes. Peas, lentils, and black beans are all high in fiber, and they easily bind together with other ingredients. Dishes made with legume-based veggie meat are very popular with those who are trying to watch their cholesterol or lower their calorie intake.
Since vegetable products don’t naturally bind well together, gelatin is added in as a coagulating agent. This shouldn’t alarm strict vegans and vegetarians that don’t eat regular animal-based gelatin though. The gelatinous substance that is used is also plant-based. One of the most common type of vegan and vegetarian gelatin added to veggie meat is agar powder. It comes from a special kind of algae, and it is very nutritious.
To add a nutty, cheesy flavor to veggie meat, a product called “yeast flakes” is mixed in with the other ingredients. It is an inactive type of yeast, which is different than the yeast that is used to leaven bread. These flakes are high in vitamins and minerals, so many vegans and vegetarians keep a bottle of them in their cabinet to use as a substitute for regular cheese.
This ancient grain has made a big comeback because it has so much nutrition and fiber. It is commonly added to veggie meat made with both soybeans and legumes to help make it a little heartier and more filling. Since it has a neutral flavor, spices are added in to season it up a bit.
It is important to mention that eggs are used in some types of veggie meat because not everyone wants them in their diet. Vegans and people who are watching their cholesterol should read the packaging to be sure that eggs aren’t in the list of ingredients. Their purpose in veggie meat is to help hold the ingredients together better. Vegan versions of veggie meat often use chia seeds as a replacement for eggs though.