In recent years, plant-based meat alternatives have taken the culinary world by storm, offering a nutritious and sustainable alternative to traditional animal-based proteins.
Plant-based proteins are essential for maintaining overall health and well-being due to their nutrient-rich profile (packed with vitamins and minerals) and lower saturated fat content, helping to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Their fibre content supports digestive health, aids weight management, and promotes a feeling of satiety, keeping you fuller for longer and cravings at bay.
Opting for plant-based proteins offers a sustainable food choice with a significantly lower environmental impact compared to animal-based proteins. They are also abundant in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, supporting healthy ageing and cognitive function.
Here are 4 delicious plant-based proteins you can add to your diet as a meat alternative to boost your energy levels and overall vitality.
If you are cooking a dish that requires the use of holding shapes or complex flavours, walnuts (particularly ground walnuts) offer an excellent, mince-like effect. They are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, essential for brain health and function, and B vitamins, particularly B6, important for a healthy nervous system and mood.
Walnuts are extremely gut-friendly, thanks to a special subgroup of polyphenols called ellagitannins. As an excellent source of fibre, which plays an important role in cholesterol regulation, walnuts balance blood sugar and offer a sense of satiety, making them great for anyone wanting to feel fuller for longer after a meal.
Ground walnuts in particular are a great meat substitute as they hold their shape, absorb flavour well and blend nicely into a meal for a tasty, filling and nutritious, meat-free dish.
Mushrooms are another stellar meat substitute. Currently a focus of scientific investigation for their therapeutic effects on the immune system, particularly in cancer, they bring their own flavour and texture to foods and are also loaded with health benefits
Mushrooms are Vitamin D absorbers, making them a rare plant-based source of this vital nutrient. They are so efficient at absorbing Vitamin D from sunlight so if you leave mushrooms in the sun, their Vitamin D content increases as a result.
The earthy taste of mushrooms makes them easy to dress and you will find that their flavour complements a wide range of dishes.
They are great for creating pâtés, kebabs and vegan ‘burgers’.
3. Beans and Lentils
Beans, especially if they are pre-soaked or fermented, make excellent meat substitutes and tend to be a favourite amongst vegans – thanks to their high amino acid content. Bean combinations can create complete proteins.
Beans are also rich in fibre which, as mentioned before, is important for health digestion, blood sugar control and the maintenance of a healthy gut flora.
Beans are very versatile; you can use them hot or cold, in soups and purées. You will find they absorb flavour very well and add a nice amount of texture and colour to a dish, whilst delivering a healthy shot of nutrients.
Packed with proteins and essential amino acids, quinoa offers a wealth of nutrients in each serving. Being gluten-free and easy to digest, it caters to those with dietary restrictions and promotes a healthy gut. Its high fibre content aids digestion, regulates blood sugar levels, and supports heart health. This versatile grain is perfect for salads, soups and breakfast bowls. So, whether you’re a vegan, flexitarian, or someone keen on healthy choices, quinoa offers a tasty and sustainable way to enrich your diet.