Vegan Mum Must-Haves: 5 Alternative Meat Products I Always Have In My Fridge
6 Mins Read
These are the tried and tested vegan meat products my toddler loves and will eat up with no argument. It’s an added bonus that the rest of the house loves them as well.
In an ideal world, we would all be eating a whole food plant-based diet with no processed products. That same world would probably see toddlers going to bed with little to no fuss and clean plates every mealtime. The reality is that as a busy working vegan mum, I’ve learned to shirk off the guilt of having go-to faux meat products in the fridge. That being said, I choose them carefully and with certain ethical and environmental parameters in mind.
1. Heura Chorizo
Starting strong right out of the gate, Heura Chorizo is a new but favourite addition to our weekly shop. It comes in sausage format, which is easy to chop into small bitesize pieces for a meaty and very flavourful bite. I found it very soft at first, but it soon cooks into a hefty chunk, so don’t be put off. Our daughter eyed the red food suspiciously on the first serving, sniffing it from a distance initially, before diving in. Now, she only has to see it to ask for “chotzo”. The first time I tried this product, I found myself reaching for the packet to triple-check it was vegan. Then I messaged my mum to tell her I would buy her some, so she can enjoy one of her favourite foods, guilt-free. It’s a real family affair now.
What it’s made from: Soy and extra virgin olive oil. It’s non-GMO and the soy is harvested from crops that do not encourage or support deforestation.
My favourite dish to use it in: I’m no professional chef, but I can whip up a surprisingly special dish with chorizo. I pan-fry some chunks, to get them firmed up and leeching their spicy oil into the pan, then throw in thickly sliced king oyster mushroom ‘scallops’. I let the two sear and almost caramelise together, before serving on top of a swirl of linguine. *chef’s kiss*
Bonus points for: The packaging that has been designed to allow super clean plastic liner removal, with everything else heading straight in the home recycling bin. Fantastic.
2. Future Farm Tuna
This is a product I snoozed on for much longer than I like to admit. I think I was just hesitant to try vegan tuna after a previously disappointing experience. Didn’t I feel foolish for waiting so long? The texture is not flaky like conventional tuna and almost reminds me more of a corned beef kind of firmness, but it works. Plus, its the taste that sells this product, thanks in large part to the microalgae oil. It reminds me of the upmarket glass jars of fish you get in the Mediterranean, just with none of the cruelty.
What it’s made from: Soy, pea protein and chickpeas. Also non-GMO and the packaging doesn’t feel like it is trying to hide any weird ingredients.
My favourite dish to use it in: A tough one. A simple tuna pasta bake never goes amiss, but equally, this is great served on its own as part of a sharing platter, with fresh bread and pickles.
Bonus points for: The funky space-age branding that makes me feel like an extra from Star Trek when I use it.
3. Greenforce Meatballs/Burgers/Sausages
Bear with me, because you might be skeptical about any powder-to-meat product tasting good and being appealing to children. I felt the same, but after testing the full Greenforce range (I was sent a box containing all products), our household is an independent supporter of the brand. Not everything was a resounding success. The fish cakes and mince weren’t liked by everyone (the former got a resounding “urghhhh, yuck” from the small one) but the meatball, sausage and burger mixes became firm favourites instantly. You just mix the contents of a packet with very cold water, leave for 30 minutes, then shape and cook. Top tip: make sure your hands are wet when you shape or they will get covered. Extra cool vegan mum points are on offer if you let your kids help with the shaping.
What it’s made from: Pea protein is the hero ingredient, giving a juicy and meaty texture to everything. All ingredients are sustainably sourced.
My favourite dish to use it in: The overwhelming favourite in our house is the meatballs, served with a simple tomato and basil sauce, spaghetti and a big helping of nooch on top. Our daughter skewering a huge meatball and trying to eat it in one go tells you how tasty the products are.
Bonus points for: A genuine commitment to zero waste initiatives. The packets can be easily recycled and food can be portioned out to guarantee no waste. Plus, as vegan protein goes, you get a big dose here, with no compromises or high fat levels. This is a protein-rich food without being calorific.
4. Better Nature Smoked Organic Tempeh
Not all kids will be keen to try tempeh, but as a tofu advocate from around six months old, our daughter has never feared fermented soybeans. Better Nature‘s tempeh hits a little different from other versions we have tried. There’s no bitterness, just an almost nutty note that feels earthy and natural. We’ve tried all the different flavours, with some not being well-received (sorry curry bites, nobody was a huge fan), but the smoked organic is the ultimate winner. We always have a packet in the fridge for those days when only a buddha bowl will do.
What it’s made from: Soy beans. All products are gluten-free.
My favourite dish to use it in: Easily a build-your-own-buddha-bowl. We like to have a fridge and cupboard clear out night, putting a host of veggies, nuts, seeds, cooked noodles and rice on the table, with everyone building the buddha bowl they fancy. Tempeh is the ideal protein addition because it only takes a few minutes to griddle on both sides and it soaks up any dressing.
Bonus points for: Being a great source of omega-3 and B2. It’s easy to overlook these, but I know our daughter is getting a healthy dose of both without overthinking things or having to meal plan.
5. Vivera chicken breasts
This is a tough one for me. Our household is an ethical vegan one, so when brands that we like get bought by less-than-ideal corporations, we tend to stop lending our support to them. Having been acquired by Brazilian meat giant JBS, Vivera caused me some headaches. On the one hand, our daughter loves the “chicky” and will eat it, unseasoned, as part of a snack plate whenever I put it out for her. This is a relief for any parent. On the other, it’s another big meat company cashing in and leveraging its massive profits. Ultimately, we decided to only buy the chicken breasts and no other products from Vivera, because they are a solid favourite and could be helping to disrupt the meat sector from within. Maybe.
What it’s made from: Soy, wheat and pea protein.
My favourite dish to use it in: We make a mean chicken sandwich. A vegan brioche bun, some homemade pesto mayo and slices of Vivera chicken make for a fast but insanely good meal.
Bonus points for: No bonus points here I’m afraid. Vivera is lucky to still be in my ethical vegan mum fridge at all!