5 Indian mock meat products that will help you break up with butter chicken for good
Dadi was right, give kathal a chance
The first time I heard about plant-based meat was about two years ago. The concept seemed like an oxymoron for a lifelong meat-eater like myself. Even though a friend kept pushing, I wasn’t very interested in trying it out. I laughed it off, more than I should have because a few weeks later, I found myself filling up on chilli chicken she’d made only to be told later that it was mock meat. I had noticed a slightly difference in taste, but I wouldn’t have guessed it was the ‘meat’.
For lifelong vegetarians (they make up close to 30% of India’s population is vegetarian), ‘fake meat’ seems ridiculous. But for non-vegetarians who have decided to transition to vegetarian or vegan eating habits, mock meat and other plant-based substitutes make the process a little easier. Even if it’s just to fill the seekh kebab-shaped hole in our lives.
Mock meat once again became the talk of the town when Genelia and Riteish Deshmukh announced the launch their company, Imagine Meats.
Mock meat substitutes come primarily from soya, whey protein and jackfruit. However, soya comes with its own health cautions. While you may have removed red meat from your diet, too much of soya can can affect hormone levels due to high presence of phytoestrogen, explained Dr Rekha Sharma, former chief dietician with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.
Since a lot of mock meats are processed, we need to keep a check on the high sodium content and reduce our salt intake to balance it out.
It gets a bit tricky for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Diksha Chhabra, a fitness trainer and sports nutritionist, says that vegan protein is not a very popular choice due to its “incomplete amino acid profile”.
“Although it’s difficult to say which one is better with long-term health benefits as non-vegetarian and veganism is a personal choice and has a lot to do with one’s emotional makeup,” she adds. Mock meat is also not the most accessible ingredient. “It’s still an upcoming trend and resources are still limited to metro cities and branded departmental stores.”
Whether you’re making the switch to a vegan diet for health purposes, environmental or ethical, we’ve rounded up some of the best mock meat options available in the Indian market. Will they provide a seamless proxy for the flavours of an utterly butterly butter chicken? Probably not.
But if you’ve decided to take that step towards a cruelty-free diet, this is a good place to start.
Best mock meat and plant-based replacements you should try
Good Dot is a leader among the mock meat pack. A group of friends came together to make the world, and our diets, a little more cruelty-free. Their mission is to create plant-based products that are not just meat replacements in taste but take it a step further by being ethically sourced and environmentally sustainable as well.
Their most popular products include ready-to-eat Vegetarian Bytz which emulate strips of boneless mutton; Proteiz and Proteiz+ chunks which are made using oats, pea protein, gram flour and soy. They also have their version of vegan ‘biryani’, pulao, achari tikka and Thai green curry.
Vezlay makes a whole range of soya foods that are closer in texture and taste to animal meats, from seekh kebabs, burger patties, cutlets, samosas and more.
The consumption of soya has gone through a chain of controversies and confusions. Some claim that it’s great for heart health and reduces cholesterol, while other arguments state that it seriously messes with your thyroid.
Do your own research and seek professional guidance if you have any pre-existing conditions before making major changes in your diet.
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Established in 2008, Ahimsa Food was among the first in the country to venture into the mock meat market. Love for animals, activism and subsequent vegetarianism were important aspects of company director Yasmin Ahmad Jadwani’s life and these principles went into the creation of Veggie Champ products.
Their food items are primarily made with a blend of soya protein and oil, whey protein and wheat flour. And their selection is pretty incredible.
You’ve got your sausages (barbecue, tandoori style and more), patties and other charcuterie. They also offer plant-based alternatives for duck, and seafood like mock king prawns, fish fillets and fingers.
Chennai-based Vegeta Gold uses soya and mushroom to recreate the texture and tastes of meat in their food products.
Their goal is to provide alternative options for customers for fish, mutton and chicken while retaining taste, nutrition and palatability.
There are ready-made items like samosas and lollipop for your 4pm snacks and fillets and chunks when you want to try an experimental recipe. They’ve even got Soyato Liver for when you’re in the mood for some kaleji masala.
Unived is a fitness and wellness company that focuses on boosting nutrition and body health with their vegan products and supplements. They ventured into the mock meat market as one of the very few working with jackfruit as the plant-based replacement for animal meat.
The good ‘ol, slightly smelly Kathal is slowly becoming an ideal stand-in for former meat-eaters for its own meaty texture that is believed to come closest to resembling chicken.
Jackfruit-based mock meat is a healthier option for people who are intolerant of soya and live with thyroid issues.