We all want to make the world a better place. Whether you’ve realized it yet or not, there are very simple and effective ways we can have a positive impact on the environment around us and the wider planet on which we live. One of the best and most scientifically proven ways we can help the Earth, and each other, is to eat less meat. But, if you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to meaty textures and dishes, you may want to embrace the best plant-based meats, also known as vegan meat.
It’s easy to say a plant-based diet will improve the world, but what are the specific benefits of creating a population that eats less meat? And how should we go about convincing others to give up their hamburgers and steaks? There are five main benefits to plant-based meats which are undeniable. They are:
- Personal Health – It’s always important to put number one first. Removing meat from your meals and embracing a plant-based diet can improve health. It may also help prevent or manage food allergies. Plant-based meats are lower in calories, saturated fats and rarely contain cholesterol. The same most definitely cannot be said for animal meats.
- Global Warming – Without a doubt, adopting a plant-based diet and eating meat alternatives is one of the most influential ways you can adapt your own lifestyle to positively impact the trends of climate change. We won’t get into the science of it here, but a quick watch of Cowspiracy on Netflix will fill you in.
- Natural Resources – While plant-based meats are made from natural products, they’re made from natural products which can be produced in a sustainable way. The same cannot be said for meat, which puts huge constraints on the natural world and requires a damaging amount of unnatural resources to keep up with the world’s current demand.
- Animal Welfare – Do you know where your meat or leather clothing comes from? Think about it; how much do you really take an interest in the journey of your pork chop or chicken nuggets from birth to plate? To say some of the conditions in which animals are kept, to later be sold as meat, are horrifying would be an understatement. The best and most effective way to improve animal welfare is to stop eating meat. The lower the demand, the better off our animal friends will be.
- Cost-Effective – You may be able to find animal meats on the store shelf with a cheaper price tag than plant-based alternatives. However, these will undoubtedly be highly processed and of low quality. To match the taste, texture and overall better quality of plant-based meats, you’ll be looking at animal meat with a higher price tag. To do right by your health, the planet and your pocket, plant-based meats are the way forward.
So you want to consider a plant-based diet, or perhaps you’re already championing one. But which are the best plant-based meat brands, why, and where can you buy them?
How to Pick the Best Plant-Based Meat for You
With the rise in vegetarianism, plant-based meat is becoming more and more popular. Not only will you find dozens of brands to order online, but supermarket shelves also are stocked with options. So what should you look out for when choosing plant-based meat?
As with any other processed food, you’ll want to pay attention to the ingredients and the nutritional value. Both of these should be listed on the packaging or in the online details. Many plant-based meat brands can be more calorific than their real-meat counterparts. Plus, you’ll want to make sure there aren’t too many unidentifiable additives in the ingredient list. And, if you’re sensitive to soy or gluten, you’ll need to check for those additions as well.
We’ve given you next to no excuse to not give plant-based meat a try by compiling the below list of America’s 15 best plant-based meat brands and their best products.
1. Beyond Meat
True to their name and ethos, Beyond Meat pushes the boundaries of plant-based meat. They offer a huge range of non-GMO products focused on positively impacting health, negating climate change and lightening the load we humans put on animals and natural resources. By utilizing their team of experts to create new combinations of ingredients, Beyond Meat delivers mouthwatering tasty protein without any cholesterol, antibiotics or animals in the mix.
Beyond Meat Beyond Beef
The versatility, honest ingredients and generous sizing of the Beyond Meat Beyond Beef make it tasty plant-based meat for all. This one-pound package of pea, rice and mung bean protein is the right size for serving a group of four. As it’s suitable for freezing, you can split it down into four smaller portions ready for future use one by one. Beyond Beef is a healthy alternative to traditional ground beef, as it contains 35% less saturated fat. However, if it’s the look of meat that usually wakes your taste buds, no worries, this beef alternative will still marble and tenderize when cooked.
Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble
Being able to get your hands on one of the best brands in the plant-based meat world at such a bargain price seems a little too go to be true. Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles are completely meat-free but packed with protein. Unlike Beyond Beef which is meant primarily for burgers, you can cook with these crumbles as you would ground beef, so they’re a great addition to a vegan Mexican night for burritos, chilis and tacos. Arriba!
2. MorningStar Farms
Although they began with vegetarian plant-based meat, MorningStar Farms is now fully committed to being vegan. They have recently removed eggs from their products. They take inspiration from a variety of global cuisines to deliver their ‘incogmeato’ plant-based alternative range. From Italian sausages to German bratwursts, you’ll be wondering how your hot dog can be so deliciously meaty without any actual animal products.
MorningStar Farms Vegan Burgers
A quarter pounder is the best barbecue-sized burger option for all, and having burger patties made of all meat-free ingredients makes them even better. MorningStar Farm Vegan Burgers are made from non-GMO soy and do not contain any artificial colors. They’re an appetizing way to top up your daily dose of protein since each serving contains 30% of the recommended amount. Once cooked to your preference, sandwich your burger between buns and indulge in plant-based meaty goodness as you wonder whether it’s possible you’re not actually eating beef.
Neat plant-based meats are produced by Atlantic Natural Food Inc. who are committed to pioneering sustainable, nutritious foods and beverages with a convenience-focused edge. You’ll notice Neat meat alternatives are made in the USA and come in easy-to-open and recyclable packaging. Among their more meaty products, they also have an egg substitute that can be used in place of real eggs in all your favorite recipes.
Neat Southwest Mix
BEST GROUND BEEF ALTERNATIVE
Give your classic ground beef casserole a meat-free twist with Neat’s Southwest Mix. Each pouch is suitable for serving up to four people and requires half a cup of water to be added when cooking. This vegan meat is also ideal for making veggie burger patties or non-meat-balls. Additionally, this ground beef alternative is soy-free and gluten-free, unlike the beef-less beef produced by many competing brands.
4. Sophie’s Kitchen
Sophie’s Kitchen doesn’t shy away from making a statement with their plant-based seafood, which they claim is ‘tasty AF.’ We’re not sure what you’re thinking, but, of course, they mean ‘as fish.’ Most plant-based meat brands focus on the two or four-legged farm animals. However, Sophie’s Kitchen has opted for sea life and makes shrimp, crab and salmon a possible dish for those who don’t actually want to eat fish.
Sophie’s Kitchen Plant-Based Toona
BEST SEAFOOD ALTERNATIVE
Change your tune when it comes to meat and fish-eating and know you can still have your favorite tuna pasta or salad thanks to Sophie’s Kitchen Plant-Base Toona. Other than the spelling, the only major difference between this tuna and the fish tuna is … the fish. Presented in small, stackable tins and wrapped in sea-inspired labels, this tasty toona will make going plant-based an easy feat, even for a pescatarian.
Sophie’s Kitchen Plant-Based Shrimp
BEST AS AN APPETIZER
For seafood lovers, saying goodbye to appetizers of breaded shrimp or crab rangoon can be the hardest thing. Luckily, Sophie’s Kitchen has cooked up a way to keep vegetarians and vegans satisfied when it comes to their crustacean cravings. Each box of this frozen appetizer is packed full of gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO artificial shrimp, which can be used in everything from tacos to sushi.
5. Plantu Foods
Opting for the plant-based way of eating doesn’t have to be all about beans and tofu. Plantu Foods makes it possible to enjoy jackfruit as part of your diet without needing to travel to the Caribbean to source it. Jackfruit is most often found in recipes and dishes which require a texture similar to pulled pork. This meat substitute is a low-calorie, high-fiber meat alternative that Plantu Foods makes easy to incorporate into a huge variety of everyday meals, from tacos to pizza.
Plantu Foods Roasted Jackfruit
BEST JACKFRUIT BASED
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, eating a plant-based diet doesn’t mean missing out on meaty flavors, even BBQ! Plantu Foods Roasted Jackfruit comes marinated in a sweet barbecue sauce and is vacuum packed for delivery to preserve the flavors. Plus, Plantu Foods Jackfruit is sustainably sourced and designed for easy cooking. This roasted jackfruit only takes 10 minutes of prep before you can dig in.
6. Outstanding Foods
Chef Dave, the brain behind Beyond Meat, has done it again with Outstanding Foods. Their selection of plant-based nutritious snacks will have you pigging out before you know it. With pork rinds at the heart of what they do, Outstanding Foods has ensured their products are tasty to the point of being addictive, authentic to the point you’ll trust in them, and, of course, completely meat-free.
Outstanding Foods Pigless Pork Rinds
Snacking as a vegan shouldn’t be any less enjoyable or less naughty than it is for a meat-eater. With a packet of Outstanding Foods Pigless Pork Rinds in your pocket, you’ll be chomping through the whole bag before you can say oink. Each portion is packed with 25 grams of protein and contains 75% less sodium and 67% less saturated fat than the real, pig type of pork rinds. So, while you won’t want to eat too many, you won’t feel too bad about it either.
Tofurky is so much more than the joke you make at Thanksgiving with all your vegetarian friends. With over 35 products in their portfolio, Tofurky is a major contender in the race to produce the best vegan meat. The brand covers culinary classics from chicken to burgers, sausages to slices, and the all-important roasts, too.
Tofurky Hickory Smoked Plant-Based Deli Slices
BEST FOR SANDWICHES
Just because you’ve gone vegetarian doesn’t mean you need to miss out on your deli sandwiches. Juicy slices of “turkey” can still be on the menu as part of your plant-based diet. Tofurky’s Hickory Smoked Plant-Based Deli Slices don’t contain any cholesterol and are both vegan and Kosher. These tasty tofurky slices are ready to be shared among several sandwiches.
Vejje began its journey as a meat-free brand on a mission to create the best plant-based burger mix. Since mastering the initial product, they have now expanded into Vejje chicken mix and sausage mix options, too. This brand is incredibly proud of the team behind its foods and is happy to shout about its plant-based products, which they consider to be ‘A Cut Above Meat.’
Vejje Meat-Free Mixes – Chicken
BEST CHICKEN ALTERNATIVE
Each order of Vejje Meat-Free Mixes – Chicken includes four individually sealed, eight-ounce bags of plant-based chicken mix. To cook the mix, simply add the recommended volume of water and heat in a skillet. This chicken mix is ideal as a meat replacement in salads, sandwiches and fajitas. Plus, each serving contains 23 grams of protein and absolutely no cholesterol.
9. Wholesome Provisions
Unlikely many of the plant-based meat brands listed so far, Wholesome Provisions produces a range of products that span further than simple meat alternatives. With pasta, chocolates, flour and cereals in their portfolio, this is an American brand completely committed to healthier, more sustainable eating in all directions.
Wholesome Provisions Textured Vegetable Protein
MADE IN THE USA
Wholesome Provisions Textured Vegetable Protein is just like chicken, but it’s not. This healthy poultry alternative is made in the USA from the best quality yellow soybeans. It comes vacuum packed to ensure a long shelf life, and once opened, this vegan meat only takes around eight minutes to cook. At the point of purchase, you can order in packs of one, two or three to suit your household demand, which we are sure will be high after the first time you taste this meat alternative.
10. jack & annie’s
You may never have tried fresh jackfruit, but trust us when we say that it’s one of the best meat alternatives. Yes, it’s a fruit, but it cooks just like pulled pork, making it a great ingredient for tacos and curries. jack & annie’s harvests the deliciousness of jackfruit in their plant-based meats. Jackfruit is always the first ingredient, meaning these “meats” are real food from a real plant.
jack & annie’s smoky pulled pork
BEST FOR MEXICAN DISHES
As jack & annie’s puts it, this pulled pork alternative is “pitmaster material.” The savory and smoky flavor perfectly compliments the texture of the jackfruit, which shreds just like pork. Topped with barbecue sauce, this dish can go straight from stovetop to tortilla. And the best part is that you won’t need to spend the whole day slow roasting pork to end up with a delectably meat-free dish.
jack & annie’s Frozen Crispy Jack Chicken Nuggets
BEST FOR KIDS
Kids and adults alike love chicken nuggets, but if you’re looking for a version for your kids that is a little less fatty and packed with nutritional value, try these Frozen Crispy Jack Chicken Nuggets from jack & annie’s. The main ingredient is jackfruit, but all of the other additions are also GMO-free. Plus, any purchase of a jack & annie’s product helps to support over 1,000 real farming families.
A favorite across Europe, Quorn is just starting to catch on in the USA. The mission of the brand is to provide affordable, healthy meat alternatives that even meat-lovers can enjoy from time to time, creating a healthier planet and population. All Quorn products contain mycoprotein, a natural superfood, and they taste just like the real thing. Plus, their line of artificial meats has just about every type of meat you could want, from ground beef to chicken nuggets.
Quorn Meatless Nuggets
MOST MEAT-LIKE TEXTURE
If you stopped eating meat because you don’t like the taste and texture of meat, this isn’t the plant-based option for you. If you stopped because you wanted to make healthier choices for you and the planet, pick up a pack of the Quorn Meatless Nuggets. These soy-free bites are an excellent source of protein and are an easy snack that the whole family can enjoy, whether they eat meat or not.
12. Sweet Earth
Sweet Earth is one of the most easily found plant-based companies. They make both ready-made frozen plant-based meals and more general proteins to add to your favorite recipes. Their Cali-based ethos means that they strive to bring professional kitchen-standard flavors into your everyday meals while being kind to the environment and promoting a healthier lifestyle. Look for Sweet Earth at Target, Walmart and most supermarkets.
Sweet Earth Frozen Vegan Mindful Chik’n
BEST FOR STIR FRYS
Yes, stir-fry dishes are amazing when they are simply veggies and sauce over rice, but to kick it up a notch (as Emeril says), turn to the Sweet Earth Frozen Vegan Mindful Chik’n. This eight-ounce container contains dozens of “chicken” pieces, which can be used in any dish you usually use bits of chicken breast for. Each serving boasts 18 grams of protein and is a good source of fiber to boot.
13. The Very Good Butchers
The Very Good Butchers is all about making plant-based meat as “approachable, nutritious and delicious as possible.” This means that their ‘butchered beans’ taste almost as good as the real deal. The founders of the company were trained chefs that set out to make better choices for the planet and ended up with a faux meat company that blew away the competition. The Very Good Butchers produces everything from whole steaks to fake cheese.
The Very Good Steak
BEST WHOLE CUT
Most plant-based meat is cut into strips or ground. That’s because the products used usually can’t stick together enough to form anything larger than a burger patty. But, The Very Good Butchers uses a rare blend of beans, jackfruit and mushrooms as well as beets, herbs and spices to create The Very Good Steak, allowing vegetarians everyone to partake in a perfectly grilled bit of ‘meat.’
Gardein is one of the most established plant-based meat brands in supermarkets, making it one of the easier options to find during your weekly shop. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less worthy of a spot on our list of the best plant-based meats. The brand is all in on the #meatlessmondays movement, catering to both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Grab a back of their faux meat in the freezer section.
Gardein Plant-Based Frozen Meatballs
Just because you’ve pledged to eat less meat doesn’t mean you have to give up all that meaty goodness in your pasta thanks to the Gardein Plant-Based Frozen Meatballs. These vegan meatballs include all the Italian spices your grandma uses in her meatballs but without the artery-clogging, fatty meat. Each serving contains 15 grams of protein and clocks in at just 160 calories.
Gardein Ultimate Frozen Plant-Based Chick’n Tenders
MOST LIKE THE REAL THING
The nice thing about chicken is that it’s easy to imitate. With the right mix of soy and a breaded exterior, the Gardein Ultimate Frozen Plant-Based Chick’n Tenders look just like the stringy, white meat. While some may find this version of the childhood favorite a little bland, these chicken tenders are super versatile. Eat them alone with your favorite sauce or back them into a chicken parmesan or fry them up in a stir fry.
15. Trader Joe’s
Who doesn’t love a stop at Trader Joe’s? This supermarket was built on being different and providing shoppers the opportunities to change up their daily mealtimes. Thankfully that also means offering an enticing range of plant-based meats, which is always changing. We love that we find something new every time we log onto their website or stop in a Trader Joe’s store. And that’s because the more plant-based meats people buy, the more products Trader Joe’s can create and produce.
Spicy Porkless Plant-Based Snack Rinds
Meaty snacks certainly aren’t the norm, but for those who love jerky and pork rinds, giving them up would be hard to do. That is until they try the Spicy Porkless Plant-Based Snack Rinds from Trader Joe’s. These crispy, chip-like snacks will keep you happy until your next meal or during your next road trip. Plus, they are also much healthier and much better for the planet than real pork rinds.
Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast
Sunday dinners and holidays can be filled with tension if you’re entertaining a vegetarian guest or you have recently gone meat-free yourself. But you don’t need to sweat the details if you have a Trader Joe’s nearby. The Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast makes a brilliant stand-in for what would usually be the centerpiece of a big meal. The vegan entree even comes with its own vegan gravy. Bon appetit!