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Just What is Vegetarian Meat? The Big 3
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Just What is Vegetarian Meat? The Big 3

Many new vegans and vegetarians have questions concerning the types of meat substitutes available at the grocery store or online. The following information is intended to present a general explanation of seitan, tempeh and tofu. Please be sure to read the warning/disclaimer at the end of the article.

SEITAN – Many cooks utilize seitan as a replacement for chicken. This food source is derived from wheat. Seitan is high in protein. Consider substituting seitan in a traditional chow mein or fajita recipe. Spices may be added or it can be cooked in a sauce reduction for flavor enhancement. Many people add tapioca starch, nutritional yeast, or a blend or tofu, rice milk and olive oil for texture and for additional carbs.

TEMPEH – Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and other grains. The whole soybeans results in a denser product compared to tofu. Like tofu, tempeh should also be marinated to add flavor before cooking. Tempeh can be floured or breaded and fried for a nice crust. Tempeh is excellent in gumbo, chilli and other flavorful foods.

TOFU - Tofu is created through a process of coagulating soymilk. The product is sold in soft white blocks. The origins of tofu date back prior to 122 BC in ancient China. The high protein, low fat food product contains a low calorie count and is high in iron, calcium and magnesium. Tofu is sold primarily packaged as fresh, silken, firm and sometimes frozen. Fresh tofu is packaged in water to maintain its moisture. Firm tofu has more of a consistency of raw meat. Silken tofu is primarily utilized for desserts. Most cooks marinate tofu, as it readily absorbs other flavors.

WARNING/DISCLAIMER - As with all food sources, one should avoid soy products that have been genetically manipulated. Some people are allergic to soy products. While soy is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, many studies caution against consumption by females due to negative hormonal side effects, which can result in irregular menstrual cycles, decreased fertility and even early onset of puberty. Tofu has also been blamed for possible thyroid problems and fetal developmental issues.

 

 

 

*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.

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  1. Carolyn
    Carolyn
    Please feel free to list your favorite uses for tempeh, tofu or seitan below. Thanks in advance for your comments and votes! I will be out of pocket for a good portion of the day.
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  2. pftsusan
    pftsusan
    This is good. Vote 2
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    1. Carolyn
      Carolyn
      Thanks Susan!
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  3. Akanksha
    Akanksha
    Great information Carolyn..I am a great fan of Soy..hope the lot we get here is not GM.
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    1. Carolyn
      Carolyn
      Akanksha, someone on The Flaming Vegan spoke about the benefits of organic produce recently...was it you? Thanks for the vote and comment!
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      1. Akanksha
        Akanksha
        Could be me..I talk about organic produce all the time!!
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        1. Carolyn
          Carolyn
          I was thinking that it might have been an article that you wrote.
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    2. Sheila Ray
      Akanksha, it is almost impossible to find non-GM soy or corn these days in the USA (unless you foot the bill for organic), unfortunately. I've heard many other countries are far beyond the US in banning GMO food, but I haven't heard where India falls on this.
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      1. Akanksha
        Akanksha
        Unfortunately, it is possible to sell GM food in India without even mentioning it..I will find out more now that I am alert. I learned how to make soy milk at home..and also to convert it into Tofu in the hopes to avoid adulteration at some level.
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        1. pftsusan
          pftsusan
          I would say outside of the soil, which the soy beans are grown in, that homemade is safer than enriched and than others ways of processing or GMing the soy. Do get the soil tested if you can.
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  4. Veganara
    Veganara
    Vote no 4. Fascinating what you say about tofu: I had heard something about soya products before, that we need to be a bit careful of them, as they can affect your hormones, etc.
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    1. Carolyn
      Carolyn
      Thanks Veganara for the vote and comment!
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  5. Sheila Ray
    voted :)
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    1. Carolyn
      Carolyn
      Thanks Sheila!
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  6. Teresa
    Teresa
    Thanks for the warning on the Tofu. I'm not sure, if I'd want to give any of those a try. I'm not much on trying new foods. Although, if I want to stay healthy and live longer, I need to change my eating habits. But, to be eating something like that, I"m not so sure. Will vote. Take care.
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    1. Carolyn
      Carolyn
      Thanks Teresa for the vote and the comment! Let me know if you try one of the vegetarian meats and what you think.
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  7. dianabart
    dianabart
    Thank you Carolyn.. I am not big on substitute meats.. it was easy for me to give up meat and I don't miss it at all, so I never needed to replace it.. however, I have family and friends I cook for on occasion and I like to cook them lentil meat balls and taco meat. I will share the recipes soon! subway to has a lentil meat sandwich that my husband loves. Great post- thanks for posting. I voted! :)
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    1. Veganara
      Veganara
      Yes, please do share your recipes for lentil meat balls and taco meat Diana, they sound wonderful!
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    2. Carolyn
      Carolyn
      Thanks Diana! So, you make the meat balls out yourself?
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  8. LRGross50
    whenever I try to cook with tofu, it disintegrates or gets soggier. Can someone suggest what I'm doing wrong.
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    1. Carolyn
      Carolyn
      LRGross50, you can freeze tofu before using it for a firmer product.
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  9. Virtually Homemade
    Virtually Homemade
    Great info and I love the discussion about soy it ignited below! Check out my pureed cauliflower recipe and vote if you like. Voted and shared!
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  10. evalovesbend
    Great information! Voted. Check out my post Fresh Grape Soda and vote if you like it:)
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