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Feature

July 29, 2021
14 Plant-Based Swaps That Actually Taste Good
It’s easier than ever to eat less meat and animal products.
Written by

It’s no secret that reducing the consumption of meat and animal products can be helpful to the environment. Still, I know how hard it is to completely remove all animal products from your diet (I’m literally typing this while my pint of dairy ice cream looks back at me with shame).

Thankfully, there are now more plant-based alternatives than ever. Want to reduce your consumption of red meat but still enjoy burgers or nachos? Brands like Impossible and Beyond can replicate those items’ meat-y taste to an almost scary degree. Rather go completely vegan? Dairy-free cream cheeses, butter, and more, which use nuts like cashews and almonds, make it easier to enjoy your favorites. Even picky eaters can have their “chicken” nuggets made out of soy or wheat.

If you’re ready to start incorporating more plant-based foods into your eating routine, these are our favorite meals, snacks, and sauces, all available to buy online.

We’re recommending these products because we actually use, and like, them. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.

A Celebrity Approved Sammy

I’m a simple woman, I see a picture of cheesesteaks, I click. However these cheesesteaks from Quest Loves Food and Goldbelly are more than meets the eye. They’re made with Impossible, for a plant-based alternative that’ll satisfy the most voracious meat lovers. Proceeds from each purchase go toward America’s Food Fund, which battles food insecurity.

Get Questlove’s Cheesesteak™️, 4-pack ($89)→

For A Mediterranean Flair

If you enjoy pieces of not-chicken in your salad, I’ve been liking these lemon-herb pieces from Daring. They’re light and zesty, and easily pair well with veggie kabobs or fresh greens.

Get Daring Lemon Herb Pieces ($9)→

A More “Meaty” Plant-Based Burger

If you’re a true carnivore that doesn’t want to give up the taste of meat in your plant based meals, substitutes like Beyond Meat come pretty close to replicating the real thing, all while remaining vegan and gluten free.

Get Beyond Meat Burger Plant-Based Patties , 8 Oz, 2-pack ($6)→

A Protein-Packed Base for Tacos and Sauces

Impossible first made a name for itself by creating plant-based burgers that “bleed” just like beef patties do. By using soy leghemoglobin to produce the reddish, juicy tinge in its not-meat, it easily translates into great flavor. My partner likes throwing together a last-minute tray of nachos with the plant based ground protein, or subbing out the meat in our favorite peanut noodle dishes with the cooked crumbles.

Get Impossible Plant-Based Burger Ground - 12oz ($7)→

Cream Cheese, Hold The Cream

If you’re looking for a plant-based dairy alternative for your favorites like cream cheese and butter, Monty’s makes some of the best plant-based spreads on the market. Made with cashews, sea salt, and live cultures, the spreads have a creamy texture and taste, but none of the animal products.

Get Monty’s Build Your Own 4-Pack ($27 - $33)→

A Vegan Snack That Isn’t Oreos

We’re also fans of these “no cheese” puffs that have all the savory goodness that you’d find in your favorite gas station convenience store but doesn’t leave you with a night-long tummy ache after you’ve eaten a whole bag.

Get Lesser Evil Paleo Puffs “No Cheese” Cheesiness ($11)→

A Party-Ready App

Cauliflower is a great substitute for chicken, because it can easily be fried and sauced just like its poultry counterpart. This P.F. Chang’s Kung Pao Cauliflower would be great for serving guests during a dinner party, or for yourself, while you watch six non-stop hours of Olympics content on your couch.

Get P.F. CHANG’S Home Menu Frozen Appetizer, Kung Pao Tempura-Battered Cauliflower, 24 oz ($7)→

A Better-For-You Pasta

Not all plant-based foods have to be meat substitutes. Banza’s chickpea-based pastas have fans with all types of dietary restrictions and concerns, since they pack plenty of protein. They're a solid gluten-free choice that won’t turn into mush.

Get Banza Chickpea Pasta, Rotini, 8 oz ($4) →

And A Veggie Based Rice

I’m also a fan of these packs of Right Rice. They cook and taste very similar to your standard rice, but they have more protein, fiber, and less carbs. Made with lentils, chickpeas, and peas, you’re also getting plenty of vegetables when you add this to your meal.

Get RightRice Variety 6-pack ($25)→

A Vegan Teriyaki Bowl

If you’re looking for an even easier plant-based food to have at home or at the office, this bowl replicates your favorite teriyaki beef bowl with soybean protein. Toss it in with some rice and call it a meal.

Get May Wah Vegan Teriyaki Beef ($5)→

For Easy Nachos or Dips

If you plan on hosting any sort of sports spectating events (Olympic or otherwise), you can swap out queso with this vegan and gluten free dip that vibes excellently with chips, veggie sticks, and more.

Get The Honest Stand Dip, Plant Based, Spicy Nacho ($6)→

A Fragrant, Versatile Sausage

Senior Staff Writer (and former vegetarian) Bryan Kim recommends these Tofurky italian sausages that have notes of basil and sun-dried tomatoes. They can be easily heated up and tossed into just about anything, from pasta dishes to soups and veggie sautés.

Get Tofurky Italian Sausage with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil ($6)→

A Nugget Simulation

Nuggs have a near cult-following on social media. The brand’s self described chicken nugget simulation also tastes great and doesn’t have the sponge-y texture common in many meat substitutes. They come in regular and spicy flavors, and you can even get plant-based patties so you can replicate your favorite chicken burger, sans the meat.

Get Simulate Nuggs, 2 boxes ($45)→

A Plant Based Classic

While many of the plant-based items on this list are pre-made and only need a few minutes to cook in an oven or airfryer, the best way to regularly incorporate plant-based meals into your routine is to learn how to cook tofu well. Experiment with a couple recipes to find what works best for you, and you’ll be able to whip up a quick dinner at a moment’s notice if you always keep a fresh block of tofu in your fridge.

Get Mori-Nu Silken Extra Firm Tofu 12.3oz x 12 Pack ($19)→

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