With the global rise in interest in vegan, or plant-based, diets, odds are that you have heard about some of the reasons to reduce meat intake, or that you have at least overheard conversations around the dinner table about someone trying out a vegan diet. With Covid-19 placing a spotlight on our personal health, and climate change doing the same for the health of the planet, it is not surprising that a diet that has health and environmental benefits would be getting so much attention. The thing that does come as a surprise to most of us though is that a plant-based diet no longer means giving up favourites like burgers, boerewors or biltong.
Advances in food innovation have made it possible to produce plant-based products that so closely mimic the taste and texture of meat that even the biggest meat eater will enjoy them. According to Donovan Will, the director of ProVeg South Africa, these meat replacements are a useful tool for anyone who wants to eat more plant-based but battles with the idea of cutting back on meat; “One of the primary reasons people battle to eat less meat is that they simply love the taste, so if we can offer them products that provides the same taste and texture as meat, just made from plants, then that really does make it easier”.
Will stresses that not all plant-based meat replacements are created equal, which is why ProVeg will be highlighting some of the options they believe South Africans should try as part of their campaign for Meatless May; “It’s important that people don’t try one average product and think that the rest all taste the same – there are so many truly amazing products available in South Africa, and it’s part of our job to point consumers in the right direction”.
The ProVeg top meat replacement list is surprisingly long, and features products from over 14 companies, and includes everything from chicken and beef replacements – with new options like On The Greenside Flamed Grilled Tender Fillets and Herbivore’s new pea protein burger – to more surprising options like Fish-Style Fillets and Boerewors from South Africa’s leading meat replacement brand Fry’s, and even vegan biltong from Joburg based Herbi Vohr.
Most of the products on the ProVeg list are widely available from leading retailers nationwide, as well food outlets like Hudsons, Spur and Steers, so even if the idea of a full month without meat sounds like too much of a challenge – trying a few new meat replacements in May is an easy way to start moving towards a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. As Will puts it; “If Meatless May sounds too daunting, you can go for a less-meat May by trying a few meat replacements, and maybe starting with Green Mondays”.