“Where’s the beef?” Not on my plate. A lot of people I know who don’t eat meat say they never really liked it anyway but that’s not my story. I loved the taste of meat. Given the choice between an ice cream sundae and a burger, I would always choose the meaty option. That is, until I learned the truth of how that meat got on my plate. Once I could no longer be in denial, I never touched another piece of meat. Instead, I have spent the better part of a decade learning how to make all my favorite meaty dishes without the meat. That’s right, it’s possible to make vegan versions of all your favorite beef dishes. Not only are these recipes more compassionate for the animals, they are healthier for our bodies and the planet. Oh, they are also incredibly delicious, so much so that once you taste them, you won’t be asking “Where’s the beef?”
1. Beefy Tips
Before you set out to veganize your favorite beef dishes, let me give you a few tips. When we eat beef, it’s not the actual animal muscle we love but the flavor and texture that gets developed through marinades, seasoning and cooking. We can replicate those qualities to make vegan ingredients taste beefy. Texture is all a matter of choosing the right substitute for the beef itself, whether that is tofu, seitan, mushrooms or jackfruit and prepping and shaping it appropriately for the dish. We can get beefy flavor from seasoning blends, vegan beefy-flavored broths and other ingredients that give us that salty, savory umami taste. We can also use ingredients, sauces, gravies and condiments that are classically associated with beef to further make a dish that is reminiscent of the original version. For all you need to know about making meatless meaty dishes, see Missing Meat? Here’s How to Satisfy Your Cravings in a Meat-Free Way, The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Meats and Meat Substitutes, and 10 Vegetables that can Substitute for Meat.
Burgers are probably the most popular dish made with beef. It was certainly one of mine. Saying no to meat doesn’t have to mean that burgers are a thing of the past. There are many brands of vegan burgers we can buy or we can make Healthy, Homemade Veggie Burgers out of ingredients we choose. Take a look at 10 Vegetables You Can Make Burgers With for just some of the options at our disposal. But when you are trying to replicate that beefy flavor, some ingredients work better than others. Seitan and texturized vegetable protein can both be flavored to taste “beefy” as in this Reuben Burger. Lentils, beans and mushrooms are the best choices for that “meaty” taste. Try these Lentil and Brown Rice Burgers, Black and White Bean Burgers, Kidney Bean-Walnut Burgers, Portobello Mushroom Burgers, and Mushroom Barley Grillers. Top your veggie burger in familiar ways with vegan cheese, vegan bacon, lettuce, tomato and onions or try 10 New and Different Ways to Top Your Burger. Don’t forget the sauces like ketchup, vegan mayo or BBQ sauce. Put it all together to make an unbelievable burger like this Black Bean Apple Burgers With Caramelized Onion Chipotle BBQ Sauce and Shiitake Bacon. Take advantage of these Tips for Making Veggie Burgers that Won’t Fall Apart.
3. Steaks and Ribs
Some beef dishes like steak and ribs appeal to those who want their food to have some chew and work their jaw muscles. While it’s possible to Eat Vegan at a Steakhouse, what happens when you want something heartier than a baked potato and salad? That’s when it’s time to make vegan steaks! Yes, you read that right. Remember, it’s all about texture and flavor. These Portobello Mushroom Steaks are cooked with all the flavors that are associated with beef steaks like onions, “beef” broth, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and tomato paste. Seitan matches the texture of beef best in so many forms. Learn How to Make the Perfect Seitan and then make this Seitan Steak in Beurre Blanc Sauce with Oven-Baked Fries for your own steakhouse meal right at home. Steak sandwiches were my favorites. Make this Portobello Philly Cheesesteak, Jackfruit Philly Cheesesteak, Pineapple Jack BBQ Sandwiches or Best Ever Vegan ‘Steak’ Sandwich on the Planet. Gluten-Free? No problem. You can make V-Meat, a vegan meat that is a gluten-free version of seitan.
While the idea of ribs is no longer as tempting as it used to be, we can make vegan “ribs” that have all the flavor and texture of the originals but none of the cruelty. For spicy, chewy, meaty vegan ribs, try these Balsamic BBQ Seitan and Tempeh Ribs. If, however, you prefer the softer texture of short ribs, you will love these Braised Seitan Ribs in Spicy Chile Sauce.
4. Hot Dogs and Sausages
You know the joke about how no one knows what’s really in a hot dog? Well, it’s no joke. Hot dogs are really not healthy at all and may contain very questionable ingredients no matter what higher authority companies answer to. We are much better off filling our buns with vegan hot dogs and sausages that are kinder and healthier. You can buy veggie dogs and vegan sausages or try making your own. These Seitan Hot Dogs are juicy and have a definite frankfurter texture. If you prefer sausages, try these Spicy Italian Sausages that are vegan and gluten-free, The Vegan Gutbuster Sandwich with Homemade Vegan Italian Sausage made from seitan, Smokey Black Bean Sausages made with beans and seitan and these Spicy Sausage Sandwich Patties that are also made with vital wheat gluten. Read How to Make Vegan Sausages that Will Hold Up on the Grill to make sure they are strong enough to hold lots of toppings.
Speaking of toppings, enjoy both classic ones and some toppings that are new and different. Make your own ketchup, your own sauerkraut or turn ordinary condiments into extraordinary ones with a few twists. Make a Delicious and Healthy Vegan New York-Style Hot Dog or recreate an Italian favorite by sautéing sliced onions and bell peppers to put atop Italian sausages for a healthier version of the classic sausage and peppers dish.
4. Beefy Stews
Stew is so comforting. Whether you cook them on the stovetop, in the oven or in your slow cooker, a bowl of hearty stew will keep you warm and satisfied. If beef stew was one of the familiar dishes you grew up with, you can make vegan versions that are just as comforting and delicious. Seitan, tofu, tempeh and vegetables can be cooked with spices, herbs and gravies to make even a die-hard meat-eater ask fro a second bowl. Try this Seitan Pot Roast, Beef-Style Vegan Stew, Traditional “Beef” Stew, Greek Stew with Sausage and Peppers and Seitan Portobello Stew. For a vegan version of one of the most classic beef dishes, try this Seitan and Mushroom Bourguignon with the Boxer. Read How to Make Simple Veg Stews to Keep You Warm this Winter for tips and recipes.
5. Ground Beef Dishes
There are so many different dishes that are made with ground beef so of course, we have vegan versions of all of them. You can buy beefy crumbles in the store or you can make your own. Tempeh and TVP are excellent choices to mimic the texture of ground beef. Tempeh can be crumbled by hand or put in a food processor and its grainy texture is a great substitute for ground beef. TVP or texturized vegetable protein is an inexpensive, easy to use ingredient. It’s dehydrated soy, and once you rehydrate it, you can do just about anything with it. If you want to go soy-free, here is How to Make Soy-Free Vegan Meat Crumbles with nuts and cauliflower. Lentils are one of my favorite ways to emulate ground beef since they are rich, meaty and super-healthy.
Once you choose how to make your own beefy crumbles, you can start cooking. Turn them into vegan meatballs like these Gluten-Free Tempeh Meatballs, Lentil Meatballs, BBQ Lentil Meatballs, and Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls. Beets make up these Swedish Meatballs while beans and seeds create these Pumpkin Seed Cannellini Meatballs. Use your ground vegan meat for the filling for this Vegan Shepherd’s Pie, Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie and Tempeh Shepherd’s Pie. Meatloaf lovers will be ecstatic over this Diner-Style Vegan Meatloaf, Lentil Meatloaf with Smoked Paprika Glaze, and Country Meatloaf with Gravy. Celebrate “Taco Tuesdays” with these Lentil Taco Lettuce Wraps, Spicy Bean Chili and Rice Tacos, and this Super Star Lentil Taco Salad. Use the ground “beef” to make 5 Kinds of Vegan Chili, lasagna, or a “meaty” pasta sauce like this Vegan Bolognese.
Wow! Can you believe all this “beefy” goodness without an ounce of beef? This is just a sampling of all the familiar dishes you can make in vegan versions. If there is a favorite beef dish you’ve been missing, you won’t have to miss it much longer.
Lead Image Source: Seitan and Mushroom Bourguignon with the Boxer