As people are becoming more aware of the huge environmental impact that the meat industry is causing, as well as becoming more health-conscious in these uncertain times, we’re turning more towards plant-based food options as a solution. Vegan char siu buns? Plant-based bolognaise? Welcome to 2021.
What exactly are plant-based meat substitutes? To put it simply, it’s a food product designed to look, smell, feel, cook, and taste like meat — but is made completely out of plant-based proteins such as soy, pea, or quinoa protein. Basically, it’s meat that vegans approve of.
Why, you may ask, would you choose a burger patty made of soy or pea instead of real juicy beef? Not surprisingly, plant-based meat substitutes often contain no fat or cholesterol and are lower in calories. They’re more heart-friendly, can have just as high a protein content, and can taste just as good. We won’t leave out the fact that they’re completely cruelty-free too.
Finding plant-based meat substitutes in Bangkok has never been easier. Imitation meats are increasing in popularity, and the number of new brands landing in supermarkets in recent months prove it. There’s now a huge range of different tastes, textures, and ingredients to choose from. Vegan meat used to be rare. Now, you can get it medium-rare.
After trying and testing a good variety of plant-based meat substitutes in Bangkok, we’ve rounded up the brands worth making the switch for. Steaks, burgers, chicken nuggets — it’s time to meat(less) your match.
[Hero Image Credit: LikeMeat/Unsplash]
Developed by OmniFoods — a food tech company launched by Green Monday — OmniMeat uses Canada-based research to bring Western innovation to Asian application. Their all-purpose plant-based meat is highly nutritious (327% more calcium than real meat and 127% more iron), and is also specially designed for Asian cuisine and culinary practices. Their product range is varied and all very appetising — from mince and strips to Har Gao dumplings and luncheon-style meat.
Taste and texture: Chewy chunks that can be broken down to make finer mince. Soaks up flavours and sauces well. Perfect level of saltiness to imitate real meat.
Best for: Familiar Asian dishes like Pad Kra Pao or Pad Sie Ew.
Dubbed “Planet Friendly Food”, Phuture Meat is a Singaporean brand that took on scientists across the globe to develop the most environmentally-friendly meaty experience. Their friendly and customer-facing brand combines a wide range of plant-based ingredients – the protein content alone comprises rice, soy, pea, and chickpea protein which makes a complete protein profile that is actually better than animal-based protein. These guys are big on nutritional value, product range, and planet-saving.
Taste and texture: Full and satisfying mouthfeel, yet not too heavy or rich. Perfectly seasoned for various uses.
Best for: Their classic mince can be used for anything from pasta sauces to spring roll fillings. But Phuture also offers a wide range of ready-to-eat products worth trying, from KFC-style popcorn bites to samosas.
Developed in Thailand by Thais, Let’s Plant Meat provides a nutritional and tasty plant-based meat substitute that is especially suited to Thai tastes and cooking. Made clean and simple with natural ingredients such as rice and soy proteins, coconut oil, yeast extracts, and beetroot (for that juicy colour), this brand is a truly no-junk meat alternative that uses real herbs and spices to create their flavour and meaty aroma when cooking. Their product range is narrower than other brands with only minced meat or burger patties to choose from. However, these are very versatile and create a good simple meaty base for you to cook and flavour in anyway you want.
Taste and texture: Soft, melt-in-your-mouth mince texture. Flavours are subtle and not as strong as other brands, meaning you can season or flavour them more to your personal preference.
Best for: Those who want the most versatile type of meat substitute and wish to cook and flavour their dishes more personally.
One of the fastest growing companies in the US, Beyond Meat is now a household name when it comes to vegan meat substitutes. Their product range has distinctly “American barbecue” vibes — burgers, crumbles, sausage patties. Anyone who’s tried Beyond Meat will know that they have their own strong, distinctive, smoky flavour and aroma. But since it’s one of the most popular vegan meat brands in the world, you can bet the flavour must be pretty winning. Packing around 23g of protein per burger patty also makes these the most full-on meaty substitutes that could put actual meat to shame.
Taste and texture: Full-bodied and truly meaty. Perfect chewiness and never flaky. Medium-rare is their natural cooking state.
Best for: Vegan burgers. Put a Beyond Meat patty in two buns, slice up some avocado, and add a spot of ketchup. You’ll be blown away.
Apart from having our favourite name for meat substitute brand, this Thai-made company produces incredibly meat-identical foods. Even better, they’ve also adapted familiar Thai dishes we all love like crispy pork knuckle (Moo Krob) and made them plant-based instead. Don’t worry — that decadent chewy, crispy, salty bite is all still kept in. Definitely one of the more creative brands with their product lines, they’re also set to release a plant-based sunny side up fried egg too.
Taste and texture: Meat Avatar’s mince meat looks, tastes, and feels just like the kind of mince meat you’d find in Thai dishes like Pad Kra Pao. It’s actually quite confusing. Perfect for Thai tastes and cooking.
Best for: A quick, easy, ready-seasoned meat substitute for a range of Thai dishes.
Teaming up with not just scientists but chefs too, More Meat makes plant-based eating more accessible for everyone and easier for family and home-dining. Their products are simple, unflavoured, unseasoned and good for cooking various kinds of dishes and for several people at once. Versatile, unflavoured, and nutritionally sound, you can make anything from meatballs to Thai noodle dishes for every family dinner.
Taste and texture: More Meat’s minced meat cooks just like meat, meaning that any kind of recipe can be adapted to use this meat alternative instead. The texture is chewy, wholesome, and satisfying while remaining unflavoured so that you can personally customise how you want it to taste.
Best for: Family cooking and larger communal dishes like curries, soups, and stir-fries.
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok on 17 May 2021.