It’s quickly becoming common knowledge that one of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact and live a more sustainable life is to reduce or cut out your meat consumption. There are a number of ways the meat industry negatively affects the environment: Immense water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation … the list goes on and on. And many people are increasingly unwilling to support an industry that treats animals in such cruel, inhumane ways. Based on this, interest in veganism is on the rise. Even if committing 100% to veganism isn’t on the table, there’s been a rapid growth in high-quality vegan food products in recent years, recreating popular dishes like pizzas and burgers with vegan-friendly ingredients, showing that you can literally have your delicious vegan cake and eat it, too. Reducing meat consumption and replacing popular dishes with plant-based options is a great stepping stone to living a more sustainable, healthy life, for you and the planet, and these are the best vegan popular food products you should make sure to stock your fridge with.
- JUST Egg
- Beyond Meat
- Oatly Oak Milk
- Miyokos Cheese
- Amy’s Kitchen Frozen Pizzas
- Lightlife Smart Bacon
- Trader Joe’s Tofu
One of the biggest conundrums for non-vegans considering a switch is eggs: So many recipes require them, so many delicious dishes are egg-based, and yet vegans don’t eat eggs due to the exploitative nature in which mass-market eggs are produced. Well, JUST Egg has stepped up to fill that egg-shaped void in your fridge. The brand’s vegan eggs are made from 100% plant-based proteins like mung beans, as well as other vegetables and seasonings like turmeric and carrots to add flavor and natural coloring. Available as a liquid for scrambled eggs or as a folded patty that’s perfect for breakfast sandwiches, the taste and texture are pretty darn close to the real thing, feeling and tasting like actual eggs. And when combined with other ingredients for omelets, sandwiches, and other recipes, JUST Eggs proves that it really can fill that egg-shaped hole, in terms of utility, flavor, and enjoyment. And, since JUST Eggs is cholesterol-free, it’s also great for non-vegans looking to cut their cholesterol intake.
One of the first companies to wake the general public up to the fact that vegan replacements of their favorite meals could actually be good or even better than the real thing, Beyond Meat has continued growing and making an impact since its launch in 2009. The LA-based company focuses on creating vegan-meat products like burger patties, sausages, ground beef, and more, using plant-based “protein, fat, minerals, carbohydrates,” and water to make their faux-meats. Their proteins consist of mung beans, fava beans, peas, and brown rice; fats are sourced from the likes of coconut oil, cocoa butter, and canola oil; minerals like salt, iron, calcium, and potassium chloride are added; and then extracts of beet and apple juice and natural flavors re-create that meaty taste and look we love so much. It all comes together to create the ultimate vegan-friendly meat products.
In veganism, milk is a no-go. Almond milk is insanely bad for the environment. And does anyone actually like soy milk? So oak milk is up to bat as the next vegan-friendly dairy alternative and it looks like it’s gonna be around for a while. For one thing, it actually tastes good; silky, flavorful, balanced, and robust. And for another, it’s much better for the environment, requiring much less water to make than almond milk and producing fewer greenhouse gases during its production process. There are many oat milk brands out there, but Oatly is consistently touted as the best of the best and has even been given the unofficial-official stamp of approval from people who have to work with and worry about the taste of milk every day: Baristas. Baristas everywhere are so enamored with Oatly that they even made an Oatly Barista edition, so you know it’s the good stuff.
A common refrain you’ll hear from people asked about veganism is, “I could never give up cheese!” With Miyokos, you don’t have to, and you honestly won’t miss the real deal. There are many excellent plant-based creameries coming to market, but Miyokos rises about the competition with the impeccable flavor and mouthfeel of its imitation-dairy cheeses. The brand also has one of the most diverse product lines around, with the highlight being its line of artisan, European-inspired cheese wheels. Aesthetically pleasing for cheese plates and charcuterie boards alike, the line features classics like herbs de Provence, chive-encrusted, and aged, with the exact smell, taste, and appearance you’d expect from each. Miyokos also makes vegan mozzarella, cream cheese, and butter, and has new, upcoming products like cheddar and pepper jack. So fear not, cheese-lovers; Miyokos will make a convert out of you.
Who didn’t love chicken nuggets as a child and who doesn’t still enjoy the occasional nugg-indulgence now? But it’s widely known that fast food and mass-produced chicken nuggets are just plain bad for you, and the poor chickens whose meat is used for chicken nuggets are often treated horribly. So how can you get your nugget fix without supporting such an awful industry? Now there’s Nuggs. These non-chicken nuggets are made using a pea-protein base, along with different ingredients and seasonings to create that perfect crispy coating and tender, chewy interior we all know and love. They certainly look as mouthwatering as any fast-food chain nugget, and the internet raves about the flavor and texture. So “don’t be chicken,” as the brand’s slogan says: If you’re a nugget lover, get on the Nuggs train.
Dedicated to elevating the simple frozen dinner to something that’s actually good for you and delicious, Amy’s Kitchen was one of the trailblazers of the organic food movement and began making food for the vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan crowds long before it was a thing. So the company really knows its stuff, especially in the frozen pizza department. So you’re looking for vegan frozen ‘zas to throw in the freezer, give one of its ten kinds of vegan pizzas a try. There are classics like plain cheese, margarita, and pepperoni, as well as more inventive ones that are loaded with veggies and vegan meats. And Amy’s also has tons of other products as well, like burritos, bowls, pastas, and more.
Just because you’re now a vegan (or trying to eat less meat) doesn’t mean that your breakfast plate has to be bacon-less. Making a worthy vegan-bacon that is comparable to the real thing is a lofty goal, but Lightlife, a plant-based meat company, has the formula down. Its Smart Bacon is fantastically crunchy and the bacon flavor is pretty much spot-on. Plus, as it’s plant-based, it’s so much better for you, with no nitrates and no cholesterol. Nothing will ever top real bacon, but we all gotta make sacrifices for a healthier us, a healthier planet, and healthier, happier pigs, so you can feel good about bringing home THIS bacon.
Tofu is a staple of any vegan or vegetarian diet; it doesn’t contain any animal products and it’s incredibly versatile, suitable for cooking in a lot of different dishes, so it’s a fantastic meat substitute. Trader Joe’s has tons of awesome vegan options (some intentionally vegan, others happy accidents), and its tofu selection is the tops. In addition to plain, the brand also has reheatable meals featuring tofu as the protein, and their Sriracha-flavored Tofu is a real kick in the pants, full of flavor and very filling. The flavor and texture of all its tofus are excellent, so it’s a great introduction to the world of tofu if you’re just diving in.
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