The 5 best alternatives for meat

Do you do Meatless Monday? Here are five Meatless Monday options to inspire your kitchen. Photo: Supplied

Self-proclaimed meat-lover and owner of Abundance Wholesome Foods, Siyabonga Mngoma looks into whole foods as a substitute for meat. She looks at veggies like mushrooms, aubergines, cauliflower, beans and plant-based foods like tofu, warning that cutting meat out of your diet without ensuring that you end up with a balanced diet could be detrimental for your health.

I make no secret of being a lover of meat, but I have slowly begun eating less and less meat in the past few years. However my body still has a yearning for meat, purely based on my health needs.

I believe it is good to cut down on meat, however, we need to be mindful of what we are substituting it with, as some meat substitutes are over-processed, full of saturated fat, and contain excessive amounts of salt.

Here are five meat alternatives to consider for meatless Mondays:

1. Mushroom

The wide variety of mushrooms available makes this veggie a favourite meat substitute. Many mushrooms are thick enough that they seem to have the same meatiness as beef. Easily seasoned with spices and herbs as a baked dish or sautéed in your favourite oil you may just be mistaken for thinking you’re eating meat. Mushrooms are generally grown chemical-free and are low in calories and fat, as well as cholesterol-free.

RECIPE: Vegan mfino with garlic mushrooms

Hearty umfino with rosemary garlic mushrooms. Photo: Anda Mtshemla

2. Aubergine

Brinjals have a meaty texture and can be consumed in different ways. Whether you smoke them, fry in oil or bake, you will enjoy the versatility of brinjals as a meat substitute. Eating the peel has added nutritional benefits too. Brinjals also easily absorb the flavours of herbs and spices giving them a delicious meaty flavour.

3. Cauliflower

Take a whole head of cauliflower, season well and put in the oven like a roast or slice and cook like you would a steak. Cauliflower can be a delicious substitute. Indulge in these beauties while they are still in season.

Braaied cauliflower, Photo: Dané Vermeulen

TRY THIS RECIPE: Plant-based braais are the new black

4. Beans

Beans are the key component of the treasured chakalaka. Photo: Pumla Brooke-Thomae

Beans are full of fibre, proteins and all kinds of vitamins and minerals, making them an excellent choice. Not to mention all the types of beans available! We are seriously spoiled for choice. Black beans are a favourite for us on meatless Mondays. You can have beans in wraps, stews, soups or with a veggie bowl or rice dishes. The creamy texture from slow-cooked beans gives a great meaty flavour.

TRY: Chakalaka tried and tested by Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey

5. Tofu

A favourite staple in Asian cuisine and high in protein and calcium, tofu makes for a delicious meat substitute in most meals. Another one that absorbs flavours easily, you can leave tofu to marinade for a while before you make a stir-fry or a grill. The extra firm tofu is the best for meaty sensations in your mouth. It can be overprocessed, so try to find a less processed type.

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