One of the biggest challenges faced by vegetarians is getting enough protein in their diet. In the normal diets, meat products provide a large portion of the protein required by the body; but this is not possible in vegetarian diets. Most beans provide us with a similar quantity of protein and so do food products like seitan, tofu, tempeh and textured vegetable protein. Let’s look at these unusual forms of proteins:
The unusual sources of proteins
- Tofu – Also known as bean curd, Tofu is created when soymilk coagulates. The coagulated milk is then pressed into curd that has an appearance of white soft cheese. Tofu can be cooked in various ways like frying, grilling and baking.
- Textured vegetable protein or TVP – TVP is prepared by removing the fat from soy flour and is used as a replacement for meat in a lot of recipes. TVP has more protein per pound than most meat.
- Seitan – Also known as wheat meat or mock duck, Seitan is prepared by washing off the starch from the wheat flour, so that there is a brown colored substance left behind. It looks like meat and the texture of it also feels like meat. It can be fried, grilled and baked. People with gluten energy should not consume Seitan.
- Tempeh – Tempeh is a soy-based product that is prepared by fermenting cooked soya beans. Dissimilar to Tofu that has soft silken texture, Tempeh has a chewy texture that is squishier than tofu. Tempeh has a nutty flavor that makes it a delicious food to fry, stir fry, bake or grill.
All the aforementioned food sources can be used to add some much needed protein to a vegetarian diet. But, all of them have a very bland taste and cannot be eaten raw. They need to be marinated or cooked with other strong flavors to taste palatable. This is one of the main reasons why plant proteins are so versatile and can be adopted in a variety of recipes – they absorb the flavors they are cooked.
These sources of protein have a lower calorific value when compared to the meaty sources of proteins. They also have a lower amount of saturated fat in them.
Total Fat 6 g
Saturated fat 0.9 g
Polyunsaturated fat 3.3 g
Monounsaturated fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 9 mg
Potassium 150 mg
Carbohydrates 2.3 g
Dietary fiber 0.4 g
Protein 10 g
Total Fat 18 g
Saturated fat 3.7 g
Polyunsaturated fat 6 g
Monounsaturated fat 5 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 15 mg
Potassium 684 mg
Carbohydrates 16 g
Protein 31 g
1/2 Cup TVP
Calories from fat 0
Total Fat 0g
Dietary Fiber 8g
Calories from fat 5
Total Fat 1g
Sat. Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Dietary Fiber 0g
How are these products used?
These vegetarian substitutes for meat protein can be used in a large number of ways. For example, tempeh, Seitan and tofu can be cut into large cubes and can be stir fried with a variety of other vegetables and seasonings. These non-meat substitutes readily absorb the flavors of the seasoning as well as the vegetables and do not taste out of place.
Texture vegetable protein has a crumbly texture and can be used as a substitute in hamburger patties and an extender for dishes that require meat, like in a casserole or in a stir-fry with vegetables for added flavor.
Seitan and tempeh can be pretty much cooked like meat on the grill, especially when they have been marinated in spices and sauce to infuse them with flavor. Ready to grill teriyaki flavored and barbeque flavored tempeh and seitan are available in the market.
Seitan can be cut up and used to substitute chicken in the recipes that call for it, like stir-fries, casseroles and fajitas.
- All these substitutes have a high amount of protein, but a low amount of fat that makes them an excellent option for anyone trying to lose weight and diabetics.
- They have a higher quantity of phytoestrogens and other nutrients that are normally found in vegetarian foods.
- Cholesterol can block your arteries and lead to strokes or heart attacks. These protein substitutes contain no saturated fat, making them low cholesterol.
The high protein and carbohydrate content makes them an extremely good substitute for meats. Apart from the nutritional substitution, they also act as a textural substitute for meats, mimicking the chewy texture.