I’m just gonna be real, my husband and I did not go vegan for health reasons. Don’t get me wrong, the health benefits of veganism are nice but we went vegan for one reason alone: the animals. For us it was an ethical decision to stop supporting industries that exploit and kill animals.
So, that being said, when it comes to food, bring on the gluten, bring on the oil, and bring on the sugar! I mean, in moderation of course.
Truth be told, I’m the “healthier” eater in the family while my husband could literally eat pizza and Gardein wings every night for dinner. Sometimes when I travel, he actually texts me pics of the “naughty” dinners he makes for himself.
But we both enjoy processed foods that re-create the flavors and textures we grew up with. As a longtime vegan, one of the questions I’ve gotten asked a lot over the years is, “If you’re boycotting animal products, why do you eat ‘fake’ animal products?” I can’t stand when people use the word fake to describe my food – nothing I eat is fake, it’s all real. The answer is that neither me nor my husband (nor many vegans) stopped eating animal products because we didn’t like the taste of them, we stopped because we discovered the cruelty involved in producing these products. So if there’s a vegan version of something we used to love from our pre-vegan days, we’re all for it!
Here are some of our favorites of the moment.
1. Gardein Fishless Filet
This is probably my favorite meatless product on the market right now. It’s incredible! What’s so weird is that I was never a big fish eater before I went vegan. But there’s something about Gardein’s version of fried fish that is just so legit. Even my brother, an avid fisherman, eats these all the time and loves them! I pair this with some rice, a vegetable, and sprinkle lemon on top with some Follow Your Heart’s tartar sauce on the side. Alternatively, get a baguette and make sandwiches with these. This stuff is so amazing you seriously can’t go wrong.
2. Beyond Burgers
If the Gardein fish is my number one meatless product, Beyond Burgers are a very close second. My husband and I eat these at least once a week. This burger is so good I consciously try to eat it slowly because I’m so sad when it’s over. Pro tip: Instead of cooking these in a pan, bake them in the oven. They come out even better!
3. Tofurky Ham (Roast and Slices)
No joke, this shit is INSANE! The roast (pictured here) comes with a glaze and turns out so juicy and flavorful you might cry. Tofurky originally released this for the holidays but you can make it any time of year. They also have deli slices called “smoked ham” that I swear is just this sliced really thin. I love a lot of stuff Tofurky does, but the ham is their crowning achievement to date!
4. Louisville Jerky
I never ate beef jerky before I went vegan so I have nothing to compare this stuff to. All I know is that this is good as hell! I love all the unique flavors Louisville offers and the texture of this stuff is great. This is also the PERFECT snack for traveling since you don’t have to refrigerate it.
5. Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda
This is the best vegan sliced cheese on the market right now! The light smoky flavor and saltiness make this an excellent choice for any sandwich or burger. And this stuff melts too! But honestly, I’ll eat this shit right out of the package cause it’s that good.
6. Beyond Sausage
Look, Beyond Meat does not play. Their burgers are an A+ and so are their sausages. These even have a plant-based “casing” the way traditional sausage has. Gurl, put these in a pasta, a hot dog bun, slather some stoneground mustard on these with some sauerkraut. They are truly sensational!
7. Hodo Tofu
I don’t know what Hodo does to their tofu but it’s different than anything I’ve tried. These tofu nuggets are dense and have a meaty texture that I love! The flavor on these is great too. I put these in salad or use them in a quinoa/rice bowl.
8. Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon
I was never a big bacon person but my husband stans this product. (Yes, I guess we say “stan” now.) He usually cooks it up for lunch and puts it on his sandwiches and occasionally he’ll pair with his tofu scramble for breakfast. After you cook this product, your whole house will smell like hickory smoke for hours afterwards! I actually love it.
9. Gardein Pizza Pockets
This is another product my husband loves. I do not eat “pockets” of any sort — no judgments, it’s just not my thing. I do have to admit though that these are very tasty and if I did eat pockets, I’d eat these all the time! They’re also super quick and easy to make.
10. Follow Your Heart Parmesan Cheese
Another excellent product from Follow Your Heart! We always have this stuff in the house and put it on our pasta dishes. I also make my own vegan parmesan: 1 cup walnuts, 1 cup nutritional yeast, 1 tsp sea salt — put all that good shit in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Voilà!
11. Ikea’s Meatless Meatballs
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Ikea is a vegan treasure trove! But their meatless meatballs are my favorite vegan meatballs on the market! They’re packed with flavor and pair amazingly in pasta dishes or with mashed potatoes and gravy (that’s a Scandinavian thing according to my Finnish husband). Also, these are mostly made from pressed vegetables like kale and carrots so they’re kinda healthy too maybe??
12. Field Roast Frankfurters
Indisputably the best vegan hot dog on the market! Grill these on the barbeque or make them in pan and serve with mustard, ketchup, relish and the rest. The flavor on these is exceptional!