I’d say that 2023 is truly a bad year for anyone in camp ‘vegan food is boring’ because it is now just so incredibly easy to prove them wrong. Don’t get me wrong, vegan food was never boring, but the vegan meat substitutes on supermarket shelves never truly did it justice until recent years.
Not only do we have great substitutes for meat from chickens, cows, and pigs, but we also have a really good range of options to suit your dietary requirements. For instance, anyone looking for high-protein vegan foods will love the soy-based fake meats (which also include more natural alternatives like tempeh and tofu), whilst those looking to increase their veg intake will really enjoy all of the legume-based substitutes on offer.
On top of this, we have super realistic vegan meat substitutes to choose from, like those made from seitan and pea protein. And within each category of meat, there is plenty of variety of plant-based options. So you can get deli slices, full vegan chicken breasts, and juicy succulent burgers all made from plants.
In this article, I am going to take you through all of the popular animal-based meats and show you the best substitutes for each. If you are interested in discovering even more vegan alternatives then you can click through to the respective guides for each.
So, let’s tuck into the best vegan meat substitutes that you can buy in the UK!
1. The best vegan chicken substitutes
In my opinion, chicken is one of the easiest meats to replicate. It has a pretty subtle taste and the texture really isn’t too dissimilar to soya-based meats.
Not only are these meat substitutes very similar to chicken, but they also come without all of the horrible gristly bits you normally get in animal-based meats. So, it’s a win-win really.
THIS Isn’t Chicken
These plant-based chicken pieces from THIS are very realistic in both taste and texture. You can fry them off and add them to a stir fry (like this vegan pad thai), vegan curry (like this vegan massaman curry), or a pasta dish. Like everything THIS produces, these chicken pieces are high in protein and relatively low in calories.
Heura Chick’n Pieces
If you are after something a little bit more tender and stringy, then these soy-based chicken chunks will be right up your street. They have a lovely herby flavour that makes them well-suited to Mediterranean-style dishes. Try frying them until golden brown and sticking them inside a wrap with a dollop of vegan mayonnaise and lettuce.
There are many many more awesome vegan chicken substitutes that you can buy, so why not check out my full guide below:
2. The best vegan sausage substitutes
Vegan sausage sandwiches are back on the menu thanks to these awesome substitutes. There are now so many varieties of them made using different plant-based ingredients and protein sources, so there is a vegan sausage out there for everyone.
Here are my top picks of the best vegan sausages that have truly upped the fake meat game.
THIS Isn’t Pork Sausages
These sausages from THIS are just like pork sausages. The flavouring is pretty much spot on and the casing around the sausage crisps up really well. Oh, and there’s none of the horrible gristle that you may find in actual pork sausages.
To find out more about these sausages, read my full THIS Isn’t Pork Sausages review.
I find these work perfectly in a sausage sandwich, as part of a vegan fry-up (try them in my vegan breakfast bake recipe), and cooked in stews and sauces.
Heura Chorizo Sausages
Heura is truly showing off the possibilities of plant-based meats with these vegan chorizo-style sausages. They are wonderfully spiced and the texture is pretty spot on.
I like to use these in a sausage sandwich with a dollop of vegan garlic mayonnaise but I also find they cook well into Spanish dishes like vegan paella, as well as pasta dishes like in my vegan chorizo pasta recipe.
If you and interested in discovering even more tasty vegan sausage substitutes then you should take a look through my guide below:
3. The best vegan bacon substitutes
It’s time to silence the anti-vegan militia who feel the need to constantly remind you of how tasty bacon is, because well, we know. We have tonnes of really tasty vegan meat substitutes that are just as good as pork bacon. Seriously.
I love so many of the alternatives out there, I find they all bring something different to the table. But if I had to pick my favourites, these would be at the top of the list for being the best plant-based bacon all-rounders.
La Vie Plant-Based Bacon
You won’t believe just how well these crisp up when cooked. They are the perfect thickness, just like pork bacon rashers, and thanks to the plant-based fat strip in the middle they end up looking pretty realistic too.
Find out why these are my favourite vegan bacon substitute on my La Vie Bacon review
Their smoky flavour makes these a perfect substitute for your bacon sarnie. The taste and texture are just so similar you really won’t want to use any other vegan bacon for the job.
THIS Isn’t Bacon Rashers
These rashers from THIS come in as a close second thanks to their bacony flavour and crispy texture. They are a little bit thicker but also a lot more substantial. And to top it off, they are high in protein too!
Find out more about this vegan meat substitute in my THIS Isn’t Bacon review
Due to their thickness, I like to add these plant-based rashers to dishes. Slice them into small chunks and use them to make a vegan carbonara or use them as a filling for a vegan quiche.
The incredible vegan bacon products don’t end here, there are plenty more for you to discover in my full guide below:
4. The best vegan mince substitutes
As much as I love making my own whole foods versions of mince meat dishes, using lentils and grains, I also really enjoy using fake meat versions to achieve a much meatier result. There are plenty of high-protein options that look creepily like the real thing but are made from plants!
You can’t really go wrong when picking up a vegan mince substitute from the supermarket shelves, but some definitely stand apart from the rest. Let me take you through my favourites.
THIS Isn’t Beef Mince
It should come as no surprise that there is yet another THIS product being featured in my top vegan meat substitute lists because they are truly one of the best fake meat producers that exist in the UK. They produce consistently good vegan products and this vegan beef mince is no exception.
It cooks just like beef mince and has a great meaty umami flavour that works perfectly inside any dish calling for mince meat. Think chilli con carne, most Mexican food dishes, bolognese, and even a vegan ragu.
You could also use it effectively to create your own burgers and meatballs. The possibilities are truly endless!
Beyond Meat products are popular for a very good reason – they are really tasty! Their plant-based mince is really well flavoured, so much so, you can fry it on its own and you’ll have something really tasty to add to your dishes.
It looks less like mince meat in its ‘raw’ state, but you can separate it whilst it is cooking so that it forms smaller chunks. Because of this, I find it works really well in any dishes where you may want to have the fake meat in larger chunks, like inside a taco or vegan quesadilla.
There are many more vegan meat substitutes in the mince meat category, including some more natural options. So take a look through my full guide below to find out more:
5. The best vegan burger substitutes
You really can’t beat a good burger. I love having one every Friday night as a treat meal. The only issue is choosing from all of the incredible plant-based burgers on offer. You can get everything from a vegan chicken burger to a meaty plant-based beef burger.
With there being so many vegan burgers for you to choose from, I have put together a few of my favourite options to make your decision-making process easier.
Moving Mountains Burgers
These plant-based quarter-pounders from Moving Mountains come packaged inside cardboard, with no plastic in sight. Which is why I will always go out of my way to pick these. Thankfully, they are also really tasty and juicy!
These work perfectly as a replacement for beef burgers, so top them with a slice of vegan cheese, some lettuce, and a dollop of ketchup.
Heura Chorizo Burgers
If you are looking to mix things up a little with your next burger, then you’ll want to try out these vegan chorizo burgers by Heura. They are really well-spiced, just like chorizo.
They work really well with a smoked cheese slice, some gherkins and a dollop of vegan garlic mayonnaise. You may question why you’ve never tried a chorizo burger before, because now you’ll be eating them all the time!
The list of incredible vegan burger substitutes doesn’t end here. There are so many more that I want to share with you, so head on over to my full vegan burger guide below: