Vegetarian for Life

Meat the alternatives

Posted by Ollie on 08/02/22 in Recipes

Seitan wrap with vegan mayo

With the increase in veganism there are more and more vegan meat alternatives on the market. They’re often referred to by various names: mock meats, fake meats, faux meats, meat analogues and plant proteins.

They are foods that mimic the qualities of animal meat products in appearance, texture, and even taste. They are made from ingredients such as textured soy protein, wheat gluten, and pea protein, among others.

It’s also worth noting that some meat alternatives are labelled ‘meatless’ but may contain animal products or derivatives such as milk, whey, egg and casein. These wouldn’t be suitable for someone following a vegan diet so always check the label and ingredients list.

So, if vegans don’t want to eat meat, why would they want to eat something that resembles meat? This is a good question and there are a number of reasons. Some vegans choose to eliminate animal-based meats from their diets not because they don’t enjoy the taste, but for ethical, environmental, or health-related reasons.

For others who are new to veganism and transitioning to this new diet, mock meats can help to replace the products that they are already familiar with, making them easy to integrate into their favourite dishes. Some people may simply enjoy the taste of these products. Lots of vegan meats taste really good! I know plenty of non-vegans who also enjoy mock meat products.

Another reason is the important role that food plays in people’s family and social lives. This may be of particular significance in care environments. Food is powerful in the way it brings people together. Having vegan options that replicate a more traditional animal-based dish will allow everyone to participate in the same celebration without anyone feeling excluded. For example, ‘fish’ and chip Friday or a traditional roast dinner. Also, as part of Vegetarian for Life's Memory Care Pledge – five fundamentals when supporting an older veg*n experiencing capacity issues or cognitive losses – mock meats can play an important part in ensuring that ethical beliefs are respected.

One thing is worth noting. Although many vegans do enjoy mock meats, some do not – again for various reasons. So always double check with the individual and find out their personal preferences.

The food industry is now saturated with various mock meat products; burgers, sausages, chicken pieces, mince, bacon pieces, even steaks and pulled pork. Check out your catering supplier to see what products they have. Many, including Anglia Crown, Brakes, Bidfood and Thomas Ridley have an extensive vegan range.

Looking for gluten- and soya-free meat alternatives? Click here.

If your vegetarian and vegan residents do enjoy mock meats there are many convenient, time-saving products you could introduce to your menus to easily increase your veggie options.

  • Why not add veggie sausages to your breakfast menu or serve with mash and gravy for a new dinner option?
  • Stock up on mock meat burgers when hosting a BBQ.
  • Try using faux mince to create a number of veggie versions of dishes such as chilli, lasagne, Bolognese or Shepherd’s pie.
  • Use vegan ‘fish’ fillets or make your own with tofu so vegan residents can enjoy ‘fish’ and chips.
  • Introduce faux chicken or ham slices for some new sandwich fillings.

BBQ burgers hot dogs

If you feel like making things from scratch you could try seitan (a wheat gluten full of protein) or some jackfruit. Both are super cheap, versatile and texturally brilliant.

Here’s a great recipe to try making your own seitan.

Have a look at our recipe section for some inspiration, like these fake steaks and this BBQ jackfruit.

And for a few more traditional recipes check out our guide, Veganising Classic Dishes.

If you’d like any further support with new recipe ideas or planning vegetarian- and vegan-friendly menus for your home, get in touch with

cottage pie


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