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Vegetarian Substitutes for Ground Beef

Fitday Editor
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Ground beef is the primary ingredient for a lot of popular American dishes: cheeseburgers, shepherd's pie, Hamburger Helper recipes, casseroles - the list goes on. But these days, lots of Americans are going toward a more meatless existence, slashing red meats like beef from their menu while trying to keep some of these authentic dishes in. For this, a lot of alternatives to ground beef have come out of the modern kitchen, with manufacturers jumping onto the bandwagon to provide meatless ground beef alternatives for a vegetarian audience or those who just want to limit the amount of red meat in their diet.

Vegetarian Ground Beef Crumbles

Some popular vegetarian food makers have started to offer foods with the protein values and textural presentation of ground beef. Companies like Morningstar offer "ground beef crumbles" largely dependent on soy proteins, while another company, Gimmelean, offers a tube of similar stuff with a slightly different, wetter texture that serves well as a ground beef substitution in recipes. Shoppers in most American supermarkets can easily find these vegetarian alternatives.


The food known as "seitan" was originally a Japanese food - made from wheat gluten, seitan is in some ways like ground beef, and can be made more texturally similar by frying or by other means. Some vegetarian dishes use this as a substitute for ground beef or other meats like chicken.

Textured Soy Proteins

A range of other vegetarian alternatives include different kinds of textured soy protein or TSP. This general type of nutrition serves in many of the new wave of meatless products on the market. Manufacturers can give it nearly limitless presentations. Look for it in the ground beef substitutes section of your local market.


Tempeh, a product made from barley, is a harder, drier food, but with some care, it can also be made to resemble ground beef. Tempeh stands up well to pressure and does well grilled or fried with spices.


Another meatless product, tofu is familiar to many who see it in various food markets. Tofu has been around for a while. It's available in different textures, from soft to extra-firm and can be made many different ways. Some consider it an able substitute for ground beef in some dishes.

As a general practice, vegetarians rely on soy proteins, wheat gluten, or other non-meat elements with nutritional content to get their favorite foods in a meat-free fashion. Whether you're in a restaurant, in the supermarket aisle or in the kitchen, look for these kinds of foods to continue becoming a part of what Americans eat on a daily basis. As stated before, many shoppers are turning away from the butcher's counter, whether it's for economic, health, or environmental/ecological reasons, or out of consideration for the animals and workers involved in the factory farming process. Some food makers have met these shoppers halfway as they rounded the corner, and the result is easy-to-find vegetarian choices for today's menu.

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