Vegan Dinner: 5 Fruits to Substitute for Meat

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Author Name: Mia Barnes
Date: Thursday August 18, 2022

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Whether you’ve followed a vegan diet for a long time or are transitioning to plant-based eating, learning how to substitute meat with healthier, sustainable alternatives can be tricky. However, you can make delicious vegan meals using different fruits, some creativity and an open mind.

Here are five fruits to substitute for meat — with a few tasty recipes you can try.

1. Jackfruit

You may or may not have heard of jackfruit before, but this tropical delight is a versatile meat substitute you can cook, dice or shred like pork and chicken. Naturally, it’s pretty popular in vegan and vegetarian cuisine.

Unripe jackfruit is green with a neutral flavor, making it ideal for cooking plant-based dishes. As it ripens to a soft yellow, its sweet taste becomes more suitable for desserts. If you don’t want to cut jackfruit yourself, specialty and Asian supermarkets usually sell it canned.
Consider using shredded jackfruit for vegan Taco Tuesday with a delicious spice blend of smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cloves. For the best results, prepare the jackfruit the day before you plan to assemble your tacos.

2. Watermelon

Watermelon is high in antioxidants, which help the body remove harmful free radicals that can lead to heart disease or cancer. Just a cup of watermelon contains 12.6 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C — enough to get you on your way to the recommended daily intake.

Rather than a beef steak, consider trying a pan-seared watermelon steak instead. Cut the watermelon in half lengthwise, followed by 1.5 to 2-inch-thick rectangular slices — you don’t want them too thin for this recipe. Be sure to let the pieces dry out in the refrigerator for one or two hours before cooking. 

While this recipe calls for balsamic reduction, fresh mint and feta cheese, an easy vegan feta alternative uses firm tofu and nutritional yeast, which is high in protein. Nutritional yeast is the best vegan source of vitamin B12 to prevent pernicious anemia, a common condition for those whose diets exclude the nutrients found in meat.

3. Pineapple

Another steak-worthy meat substitute is pineapple. The Cleveland Clinic highlights some of the essential vitamins and minerals found in pineapple, including:

  • 100% of your daily manganese intake for healthier bones and immunity.
  • One-third of your daily intake of vitamin C for optimal tissue growth.
  • 10% of your daily fiber recommendation for a healthy gut microbiome.
  • B vitamins for healthier digestion and red blood cells.

You can make some delicious pineapple steaks on the grill or in a grill pan. Start by combining brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and vegan butter in a small bowl. Slice a medium pineapple and coat each piece with the mixture in a container, then cover and set aside for 15 to 30 minutes.

Grill your pineapple slices between 350° and 400° Fahrenheit or in a grill pan for 4-5 minutes on each side. Move the steaks to a plate and garnish with cinnamon and mint leaves.

4. Mango

Individuals with digestive problems may want to increase their mango consumption. Recent clinical studies suggest this fruit improves gut microbiota diversity and may relieve several associated conditions. Mango also contains digestive enzymes that help break down your food for easier absorption.

Typically, you can find mango in several traditional curry dishes. Instead of a meat-based stew, use mango to make curry you can top over rice.

Along with other ingredients like coconut milk, red chilies, mustard seeds, asafetida, turmeric, sugar and curry leaves, you can enjoy a hearty, spicy dish that’ll become your new plant-based favorite.

The easiest way to cut a mango is to slice along both sides of the seed, making criss-cross cuts in each slice and sliding them off the skin with a fork.

5. Avocado

In case you didn’t know, avocados are actually berry fruits with a pit from an avocado tree. They’re also an excellent source of fiber and potassium and are a versatile substitute for meat.

Stuffed avocados don’t require getting any pots or pans dirty. Slice avocado into two halves and remove the pit. If your avocado isn’t ripe, placing it in a bag with a banana for 1-3 days will release the ethylene gases more quickly.

Combine chopped cucumber, jalapeno, onion, bell pepper, tomato and garlic in a bowl and add hummus or vegan mayo to bind. You might also want to use quinoa, olives or other herbs and ingredients for the filling. Add a dollop of mixture to the center of each avocado slice and add lemon juice, salt, pepper and parsley on top.

See Dinner in a Different Way With These Fruit Substitutes

Eating vegan doesn’t have to be challenging with so many incredible alternatives for meat. Enjoy these fruit-based meals for a fresh and satisfying vegan dinner.

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