Vegetarian “Meat” Alternatives

Beyond Meat vs. Simple Truth.

By Kevin RR Williams

VEGAN The tastelessness of tofu can be masked through marinades and sauces. Texture ranges from smooth silk to extra firm. But eating tofu every day can get boring. Yet vegetarians and vegans require protein three times a day just like their carnivorous descendants. So beans, lentils, and protein powders may be used as supplements.

Soy, however, continues to provide significantly higher amounts of plant-based protein. So less as a craving for meat and more as source of variety and nutrition, herbivores may consume meat-like substitutes such as textured vegetable protein or seitan. Recognizing the growing niche market, manufacturers are attempting to perfect methods of simulating meat.

One meat substitute that has garnered much attention is called Beyond Meat. After a successful trial, Chipotle restaurants began offering it as a non-meat alternative rebranded “Sofritas.” Simple Truth produces a more economical option. Each brand offers various flavor coatings with less strips. For the purposes of comparison, I tasted basic versions, not expecting much difference. But I was quite surprised at the results.

Beyond Meat and Simple Truth Veggie Comparison

Beyond Meat

Simple Truth

Flavor: Southwest Style Meatless Griller Strips
Protein Source: Soy and Pea Soy
Package Size: 9 oz. 16 oz.
Serving Size: 6 strips 12 strips
Servings per Bag: 3 5
Sodium per Serving: 350 mg 500 mg
Protein per Serving: 20 g 23 g
Gluten: Gluten-free Wheat gluten
GMO: GMO-free Undeclared
Cholesterol: None None
Texture: Meaty Rubbery

Each product contains as much protein as chicken. On the surface, Griller Strips look more like the faux foul because of significant size variance among pieces. Beyond Meat Southwest Style have a more uniform rectangular appearance with grill marks. When thawed, Beyond Meat flakes (tears) more like real chicken though.

Vegetarian “Meat” Alternatives

For my initial taste test, I wanted to try the meat substitutes without modification. I just thawed them according to the instructions (microwave on high 40 seconds), tore a piece off and took a bite. Beyond Meat won hands down both in texture and flavor virtually right out of the bag!

Simple Truth Griller Strips may still have a place because if its value (if you are not gluten intolerant). I find that the flavor can be improved by drizzling Brags Liquid Aminos over them before thawing. (This raises the sodium content.) It also helps to slice them into thinner strips so they aren’t as rubbery.

Either can be quickly sautéed in oil, onions, and bell peppers for fajitas or tacos. Paired with Vegannaise, chopped small, you could have a great chicken salad alternative. These meat substitutes are a good source of protein within marinera or Alfredo sauce. The lack of fat content (like real meat), causes them to dry out if fried with or without batter so keep them moving in the skillet and keep an eye on them. They only take 2 to 3 minutes to cook. Refrigerated leftovers can be kept for up to 7 days.

Blog: How Much Is Enough Protein?

Comparably priced at about 4 bucks, whenever possible, I recommend Beyond Meat Southwest Style (Whole Foods, Sprouts Markets) but you get about 40 percent less per package by comparison. As a staple or for larger vegetarian families, you may wish to stock up on Simple Truth Griller Strips (Ralph’s Supermarket) and bury them well within sauces with small or thin pieces.

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