When I first started to phase out meat, I was intimidated by the massive amount of mock meat products about. I’d tried a vegetarian mince before and it was disgusting. I knew the best way forward was to gingerly dip my toes in and try one or two products a week, gradually building my veggie repertoire. Since I started cutting back on my meat consumption two years ago I’ve tried and tested many meat-like foods. These are my absolute favourites – my freezer is rarely without them and once you try them, yours won’t be either.
Why go vegetarian?
It’s said that one of the best decisions you can make for our planet is to phase out meat from your diet. Every meatless meal you have helps protect our planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving water, energy and land, and reducing antibiotic usage.
It’s also kinder to animals and better for your health – check out these pages from the Vegetarian Society for more information on what a vegetarian diet can do for the environment, your health and the animals.
Why mock meat? Why not just veggies?
Most people have a hard time changing their view on what a meal should look like – myself included. While some people may just be able to power through it and make all of the Vegetable Curries without batting an eyelid, I was not one of those people. My decision to change our diets was based on the health needs of my children – it was important that they felt able to eat what was in front of them.
Here are my favourite vegetarian and vegan mock meats – all of these are widely available from supermarkets and are affordable enough to eat regularly. I usually shop at Tesco but you will probably find similar own-brand products in your local supermarket.
Vegetarian meat-like staples you will absolutely love.
- Linda McCartney Red Onion & Rosemary sausages (pictured). This is my favourite out of the Linda McCartney sausages – lovely served with mash, veggies and some gravy. These are vegan friendly too!
- Tesco Vegetarian Lincolnshire style sausages. These are cheaper than the Linda McCartney sausages and aren’t as nice. However, they are passable and are a good all-rounder. Not vegan as far as I know.
- Tesco hot-dog style sausages taste almost exactly like regular hot-dogs. I’m using them for chilli dogs this week and they’re sure to please!
- Linda McCartney Pulled Pork burger (pictured). This is a super easy way to treat yourself to something familiar. It contains honey so is not friendly for vegans, but it is very tasty.
- Linda McCartney Mozzarella burger. Another top-notch burger offering from Linda McCartney. I first tried this in a greasy spoon cafe in Cardiff in my early meat-free days. I couldn’t believe how much I liked it!
- Tesco Vegetarian burgers. Cheap, cheerful and convincing. My kids liked them because of how much they looked like McDonalds patties. “Veggie McDonalds” nights were a fun feature on our meal plan for a few months.
Quorn are the royalty of the chicken substitute. I have yet to try another brand that measures up, so these are all from Quorn. You will not regret buying these!
- Quorn Vegan Hot & Spicy burgers. Lovely in a burger bun with a some salad and a slice of vegan Red Leicester.
- Quorn Southern Fried burgers and bites. Definitely a favourite with my little ones. Tastes so much like the real thing, my sons thought I was trying to trick them. I gave up arguing in the end!
- Quorn chicken style fillets and Thai chicken style fillets. Easy to cook and they go with just about anything. Win!
- Quorn Cheese & Broccoli Escalopes. If you are looking for comfort, look no further. This is one of the first meat substitutes I tried and I have had some in my freezer ever since.
Other mock meat goodness.
- Quorn roasts. We have a Quorn roast almost every week and last year had one with our Christmas dinner. Similar in taste and texture to the sort of roast turkey slices you got with your school meals. A thumbs up from the kids and a thumbs up from me!
- Quorn Vegan Fishless Fingers. Like other Quorn foods in my list, the children refused to believe there was no fish in these. It simply did not compute! We now have these almost every week.
- Quorn sandwich slices. Some of these don’t taste as close to their meat counterparts as you’d expect but I’ve yet to find one I don’t like. If they brought out a vegan range that would be even better!
- Quorn mini scotch eggs. I served these at my son’s birthday party last year. After proudly proclaiming that the whole buffet was vegetarian, my sister cried “Aha, but what about those scotch eggs?”. I smugly got the packet out of the recycling to show her. As if I’d lie. Really.
Are you hungry yet?
I sure am! Try one or two items from this list each week. I know you won’t regret it!
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Photos by Linda McCartney and Quorn.