Most of the world eats meat, and yet if we want to see a world where animals used for food are treated well, either the world has to go plant-based (or those that eat meat need to eat a lot less of it – even meat chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver say the same thing). The land needed to raise free-range animals is far larger, so if you don’t want most meat (as now) to come from factory-farming, then meat-free Mondays are not enough. We are talking about 90% or more plant-based. And even most carnivores agree that factory farming should be abolished. As these products look, smell and taste like real meat, keep them away from pets, as they will be tempting, but many contain toxic ingredients like mushrooms, onion, garlic, jackfruit etc.
This post looks beyond our shores to discover some of the other good brands of vegan meats worldwide. It’s always good to eat local, but it’s also good to sometimes look abroad to see what’s happening, for inspiration and other brands that are not available elsewhere. Although we have a few good brands of vegan meats, the choice is nothing like say in Germany (which has the highest ratio of vegans on earth – Berlin is the most vegan-friendly city on the planet). And Sweden, USA and Canada also are miles ahead in terms of innovation, taste, nutrition and eco packaging (and less likely to pack everything with palm oil, which many brands do here).
Many brands from abroad use alternative ingredients to soy like tempeh (a fermented bean from Indonesia), seitan (a ‘wheat meat’ popular in Buddhist cuisine), jackfruit (an Asian fruit that strangely resembles meat when cooked) and marinated tofu. There are even European companies that make ‘meat’ from peas or oats!
If you like these brands, then look for them in stores, or ask them to be stocked. The more the better brands start to get sold, the more likely it is that some of our inferior brands will pull their socks up – get rid of the palm oil and excess packaging, improve the nutrition and taste, and come up with something better for local shoppers! You can recycle any packaging with your household waste (most supermarket bag bins now accept all plastic packaging.
Abbot’s Plant-Based Butcher (US)
Abbot’s Plant-Based Butcher is a company that makes delicious proteins from GM-free plants (Kosher certification is pending). Using simple ingredients like golden peas, vegetables, herbs, spices, extra virgin olive oil and vinegars, you can enjoy real food, that you feel good about eating. These chef-driven artisan foods are named after the street in Venice (California) where a 19th century conservationist began his journey to heal the planet.
Deeply committed to animal welfare, the company donates a portion of sales to animal rescue and advocacy. Most items are used within 5 days of opening, or can be frozen for a few months (leave in the fridge overnight to thaw). The range includes:
Ground ‘Beef’ is crafted with onion, thyme and porcini mushrooms. Use the earthy umami taste for Shepherd’s Pie, Spaghetti Bolognese, Sloppy Joes and ‘Beef’ Enchiladas. To cook, crumble the ‘beef’ into a bowl and warm in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat until brown (8 to 10 minutes). Or top on a flatbread or pizza, and baked until cooked. Use it to make this plant-based beef bolognese.
Slow-Roasted Chick’n pairs a mild taste with robust meaty tenderness. It browns nicely in the pan and stays tender, when roasted. You can also marinate it with spices and seasonings to make plant-based versions of your favourite meals. To use, break apart with clean hands into a bowl, then add spices, seasonings or marinade. Saute in a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium heat until brown (12 to 14 minutes) for a nice crisp. To bake, use a prepared baking sheet in a pre-heated oven, drizzle with oil and seasonings and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until slightly browned and cooked throughout. Again, add with oil and seasonings on a pizza or flatbread, before baking.
Spanish Smoked ‘Chorizo’ is made with garlic, chipotle peppers and Spanish smoked paprika, for a zesty bright ‘meat’ with subtle smoky heat. Good for breakfast scrambles and burritos or empnadas/enchiladas, this is nicely browned over medium heat in a little oil for 8 to 10 minutes, or mix with cooking oil and spread in a thin layer, to bake at 10 minutes or so in the oven. You can also crumble it on pizza or flatbread and cook.
Other Good American Vegan Meats
- No Evil Foods is a fun range of plant-based meats. Mostly based on seitan wheat meat, the range includes Comrade Cluck ‘No Chicken’, an Italian sausage and pulled pork BBQ, along with a vegan chorizo.
- Modern Meat is a new major Canadian brand, created by two entrepreneurs and a talented chef. The range includes mini burgers, ground round, meatballs and breakfast sausage. There is also a plant-based roast.
- Daring is a new brand of vegan chicken. This ‘daring is caring’ business offers natural ingredients and short ingredients lists, to produce original or breaded chicken pieces in lemon herb or Cajun.
- Hungry Planet Foods offers ground meats and burgers, along with ‘heat to eat ‘ Thai meatballs, Pork Gyoza, grilled chicken and Italian sausage. There are also ready-meals including Salisbury Steak with smashed potatoes, gravy and green beans.
American Vegan Butchers!
- Very Good Butchers began after the chef sold out of his bean-meats at farmers’ markets on Canada’s Denman Island. This led to him opening the west coast’s first plant-based butchery. The range includes vegan meat boxes, a bean-based steak, taco stuffers, pepperoni and a British banger!
- The Herbivorous Butcher (Minneapolis) was founded by a brother and sister, and offers vegan meats, with profits used to open a local animal sanctuary. Ambitious plans include weekend cabin rentals, vegan dinners and cooking classes on the farm with crop-share and workaway options, and jobs for people with disabilities. Their parents brought them up well!
- Real Fake Meats is a plant-based butcher based in Halifax, founded by a couple of talented chefs. These veggie meats include smoky maple ‘bacon’, veggie donair, rib meat, ground round, Tex Mex, veggie turkey, chicken and ham, seitan burger, steaks and chorizo sausages.
- Yam Chops is situated in the heart of Toronto’s Little Italy. The range includes vegan BBQ ribs, Montreal Style ‘steak’, Szechuan or Mongolian ‘Beef’, hickory-smoked pulled ‘pork’ and Chick*n Schnitzel.
Vegan Meats from Barcelona
Heura (Spain, images) is a brand of vegan meats that are made with natural ingredients, created in a co-working office in the beautiful city of Barcelona. Inspired by local heritage, these items live and breathe Mediterreanan cuisine using incredible tasting ingredients, for an authentic experience of meat, without the meat!
The company is named after a type of plant that spreads rapidly – filling the world with life, nature and colour. Sold across Europe, the GM-free legumes are high in protein, then ground to a vegetable flour and mixed with water at different levels of heat, pressure and humidity to achieve a similar texture to meat. Then in go Mediterranean spices (thyme, basil, cumin), olive oil and a few other ingredients including B12 (needed for vegans).
The main legumes used are soy (for ‘chicken’) and peas (for ‘beef’). Most items (not pizza) are gluten-free. Heuro does not recommend freezing chilled products as the original texture and juiciness would be lost, though you can freeze it, once cooked (once thawed in the fridge, use up within 24 hours).
So what about packaging? These days this is as important as the food. Heura is mostly packed in easy-to-recycle packaging, though you have to seperate the plastic film. The company is currently testing plastic-free packaging and is down to a tiny amount, with more innovations in the pipeline. The range can be used to make lots of tasty recipes (including this garlic rice with Heura and vegetables). Choose from:
- Vegan Chicken Chunks (including spiced)
- Vegan Chicken Strips
- Vegan Chicken Nuggets
- Vegan Burgers
- Vegan Meatballs
- Vegan Sausages
Meat from Peas (from Sweden)
Peas of Heaven produces ‘meat’ made from a combination of peas, beans, potatoes and brown rice. Free from antibiotics and hormones, these items are equal or higher in protein than animal meat. The ‘five building blocks’ found in meat are instead made with heat, then cooled and pressured to create the same fibrous consistency in plants, mixing in fats, minerals, vegetable colours, natural flavours and carbs. Orders contain cooling lamps, to remain at the correct temperature. If ordering online, let dry ice evaporate in a well-ventilated area away from pets and children, then recycle the packaging.
Sold as Boxes (Burger Box, Sausage Box, BBQ Box or Try Us Box), most items can be frozen, see site for details. There are 12 products in the range including:
- Cold Cuts
The company was founded by a family whose great grandfather produced a meat-based sausage over 100 years ago. Obviously times have moved on, so they have used his expertise and experience to recreate the same taste and texture, but from peas. Their grandfather would be proud.
Sustainble Soy Meats from Sweden
Oumph! makes vegan meats from soy. The difference is that this soy is not from the Amazon rainforest, but from the Danube region in Europe. Occasionally due to ‘the weather Gods’ they may soy from elsewhere but never buy from South America, and are an active part of a voluntary initiative in Sweden to look at more sustainable ways of producing soy beans.
From mince to kebabs to sticky steaks, there is also a famed Oumph! burger. Sold in nearly all major stores across Europe, including big UK supermarkets. The range includes:
- Mince – ideal for bolognese, lasagne or tacos
- Italian-style with tasty herbs
- Sticky smokehouse & Smoky bites
- Grilled Style for the BBQ
- Thyme & Garlic for herby-lovers
- Smoky & Salty
- Pulled Oomph!
- Kebab Special jam.
Turning Plants into Meat (in Switzerland)
Planted uses a process called wet extrusion to turn plants into the fibreous elongated shape of animal muscle fibre proteins. So far the company has saved almost half a million chickens! You can even visit the factory to discover how peas become ‘chicken’ and sunflowers become ‘pulled pork’. The range includes kebabs and schnitzels.
Germany’s Best-Selling Vegan Meat Brand
Like Meat is sold across Europe in 7 countries, made with soy and peas. What makes this company a real feelgood story is that it was founded by the son of a man who ran a real meat brand. Tim set up his company age just 28. Based in Düsseldorf, he has won the ‘Innovation of the Year’ award from the German meat industry magazine and also partnered with a pizza chain to launch a pie topped with its ‘pulled pork’. The range includes:
- BBQ or Grilled Chicken
- Spicy Chicken Wings
- Chicken Nuggets
- Like Schnitzel
- Like Kebab
Organic Vegan Meats from Berlin
If you thought Germans all ate bratwursts and frankfurters, you’d be wrong. It has the highest ratio of vegans on earth (followed by Israel and the USA) and Berlin is officially the most vegan-friendly city on earth. Terra Vegane (sold at The Vegan Kind and The Vegan Wholesaler) is an organic company based here. As well as making cheese and egg alternatives, it offers vegan meats made from black beans, lentils, oats, soy and wheat (lupins too but some people are allergic). These create protein-rich burgers, steaks and sausages include:
- Black Bean Burgers
- Berlin Bacon
- Not-Ham & Not-Beef Steaks
- Deli Slices
- Vegan Winter Roast
Meat Made from Oats (from Finland)
Gold & Green is a new plant protein made from Nordic oats, peas and faba beans. Using quality and locally sourced ingredients, this has more protein and fibre than meat (and a better fat composition). The ‘pulled oats’ have a firm tender texture to soak up flavour for a nice chewiness. It’s not a ‘vegan meat’ to mimic anything, but can be used to replace meat in any of favourite dish.
Made in a similar way to making bread, these are produced in the happiest country on earth, which has a strong history of protecting people from cradle-to-grave, and now is the doing the same for the animals! Unlike soy from rainforests, this ‘meat’ is made with locally-grown oats and beans (also from Sweden next door). All the items are responsibly made with good working practices and pay.
68% of the world’s oats are used to feed animals (often killed for meat), so in Finland they have decided to use oats to feed more humans, to save the animals! Although not yet organic, the company has researched into climate impact and found it has a marvellous carbon footprint, compared to meat. Not guaranteed to be gluten-free.
- Pulled Oats Nude is packed with protein and iron, ideal for you to spice to perfection. The oats are loaded with nutrition and refined by the harsh Nordic climate and short growing season, under the Midnight sun. Just replace mince in casseroles, tacos and pasta dishes. Store chilled – like the Nordic climate! To eat, pan-fry with a little oil and spices, or roast.
- Pulled Oat Tomato has a mild flavour, spiced with tomato, smoked bell pepper and parsley. It’s good for pasta, sauces and tacos.
- Pulled Oats Mexico contains a spice paste to use in fajitas or tacos.
- Deli Oatbites add flavour and nutrition to salads, pizza, tacos, sandwiches or stir-fries. Can be fried for a couple of minutes in the pan. Choose from chilli-ginger, smoke BBQ (good for pizza or toast) or mushroom-truffle (risotto, pasta, pies).