Vegan meat substitutes

In the last year the impact on personal health and the environment of continued large-scale meat eating has been in the news headlines quite a lot. This has stimulated an interest in vegetarian & vegan diets and large companies have responded with some innovative new meat substitutes to replace the older Quorn/Soya products. 

I decided about a year ago that I should probably reduce my meat intake and now seemed a good time to try out these new products to see how they really feel, to a confirmed meat-eater like myself. What follows is a highly unscientific review based just on my own opinions.

This is a “work in progress” article so I will keep updating it with new products and might convert it to a permanent post later 🙂 

Green Cuisine – meat-free sausage rolls

I was a bit skeptical about these because I really enjoy a good sausage roll every now and then. I wasn’t sure how they were going to make really good flakey pastry and also fill it with something that could even get close to good sausage meat. 

So, I should probably start by admitting that they aren’t quite as good as a Greggs sausage roll, but I was really impressed at how tasty they are and how the pastry really does feel like the real thing. The “meat” is not quite the same mouth feel as pork (a bit softer) but it is textured and tasty enough to pass for a sausage roll. I enjoyed them with a bit of pickle to spice them up. 

I’d give them a 7/10 and I continue to buy them.

Green Cuisine – meat-free burgers

These were cooked in the oven and, although they were a bit anemic when frozen, they did cook up nicely and they oozed a brown juice that looks meaty. 

I though they were impressive again because the texture was very meaty but they were quite firm – harder than a normal burger would feel. The taste is a bit like meat but you can’t actually put your finger on which animal you’re eating. It’s not beef or pork but a bit like a mix of all red meats, and none. 

Probably a 6/10 – good but a bit firm & dry with a flavour that isn’t great.

Plant Pioneers – ultimate plant burgers

These were oven baked again and were more impressive than the GC ones in that they really ooze a reddish juice, like a medium/rare burger but made from beetroot juice. Texture is excellent and taste is good – again hard to say that it is beefy but it does taste meaty. 

I’ll give them a strong 7/10 and I’d continue to buy them.

Plant Pioneers – chorizo shroomdogs

Very nice indeed! They are much softer than a normal chorizo but the taste was pretty close to the original so I have eaten these again, in “sausage butties” and as a side dish. 

I’ll give them a 7/10 – tasty, filling and pleasant to eat.

The Meatless Farm Co – meat free burgers

These really were a step up from the rest but that might be due to the cooking method. They only recommend frying so I cooked them that way – 7 minutes on medium heat, turning a few times. Anyway, down to the review, the texture was spot-on and the taste was excellent AND there was even a really nice BBQ/grilled component that was very pleasant. 

I’d give these an 8/10 – all in all these are my winners and I’ll definitely buy them again. I’m looking forward to trying more of the Meatless Farm products.

Green Cuisine meat free sausages

Sadly I have to say that these were a disappointment, after trying the other Green Cuisine products. They just didn’t seem to have the “upgrades” that the others have had in terms of new ways to make vegan food taste meaty. They reminded my strongly of the old-style vegetarian sausages and, while they didn’t have obvious lumps of vegetable in them, they were very “bready” and tasted a bit like a bland version of those old Paxo dried stuffing mixes. 

I’d give these a 3/10 – not as bad as the really old ones but needs much more work to make me want to buy them again. 

 

Fry’s sausage rolls

These were recommended by a vegan friend so I was very keen to try them. They were very nice and had a good meaty structure but were a bit dry after the recommended cooking time so I might try them for 5 minutes shorter next time. They tasted pretty good but perhaps not as good as the Green Cuisine ones. I’ve got another pack though so I’ll give them a try and report back.

I’ll start by giving them a 6/10 – I’d eat them again but I’d prefer Green Cuisine if I could get them.

The Meatless Farm Co – meatless sausages

After the excellent performance of their burgers I was really keen to try their sausages. Well, out of the packet they really look like normal sausages, even down to the “skin” and the colour of the “meat” – they look really good and I’d be hard-pushed to tell they didn’t contain meat. When cooked up they brown nicely too and although they are a bit uniform in colour there is texture there and signs of black pepper or herbs in there. 

I always taste test these products as they are, without sauces, first just to give a fair result. These are much better than the Green Cuisine sausages and the texture is good, like a cheap sausage, and the taste isn’t bad at all. It is still not as “meaty” as I would like and you’d instantly notice that it was a bit odd. It’s a little bit like a meaty sausage that has a lot of starch filler and not enough meat. But with a little sauce it’s very enjoyable and you certainly wouldn’t complain – it just doesn’t taste as good as a decent meat sausage. 

I’ll give it a 6.5/10 because it is genuinely “sausage-like” and tasty. I’d buy these again as they are definitely the best vegan sausage (as opposed to the Chorizo ‘shroomdogs which were not really sausages) and they’d be a useful standby vegan meal for the freezer.

Moving Mountains – plant-based 1/4lb sausage burgers

These are an unusual combination – trying to be both burgers and made out of sausages too. I was very interested to see how these would perform. I cooked a couple of burgers, as recommended, in the frying pan and then had them with bread & a bit of pickle. 

Well, they are really good – really meaty in texture and with a definite sausagy taste too. In many ways they taste like they have been made from the same “sausage” that is in the Green Cuisine sausage rolls because even at the first bite they have a taste of sausage. Not strong but really good. 

I’ll give them 8/10 and I’ve already added a few to my next supermarket order! 

Conclusions

While I can’t put my hand on my heart and say that any of these products are “exactly like” the things they are impersonating, I was very impressed with all of them. These next-gen vegan products are much better than anything that came before them and they are a very significant indicator that companies are investing heavily in new technologies to respond to the interest in vegan diets. 

In the past I have tried all kinds of supposed meat substitutes and been disappointed with all of them, bar perhaps “Gardein meatless meatballs”, which I’ve had a couple of times since. I don’t eat them regularly, just because meatballs have never been a big part of my diet. I found Quorn to be very tasteless and the bolognaise I made one evening (with an excellent sauce) just tasted like cardboard and was thrown away. Same goes for the old meat free sausages, which are sausage shaped but are clearly just a pale imitation. 

These new products might still not be a perfect copy of what they are trying to replace but they are very good and well-worth anyone trying. I’m going to work them into my diet and I look forward to more products coming on the market to test out! 

Green Cuisine – meat-free sausage rolls pea protein 7/10
Green Cuisine – meat-free burgers pea protein 6/10
Green Cuisine – meat free sausages pea protein 3/10
Plant Pioneers – ultimate plant burgers soya 7/10
Plant Pioneers – chorizo shroomdogs mushrooms 7/10
The Meatless Farm Co – meat free burgers pea protein 8/10
The Meatless Farm Co – meat free sausages pea protein 6.5/10
Fry’s sausage rolls soya & wheat 6/10
Moving Mountains – plant-based 1/4lb sausage burgers soya & pea protein 8/10

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