8 Great Substitutes for Beef


Over the past few years, it has come to light that eat­ing copi­ous amounts of beef isn’t the best thing for your health. Over­con­sump­tion of beef can lead to obe­sity, can­cer, and Type 2 dia­betes. Mod­er­a­tion of beef intake can help avoid some the asso­ci­ated risks of a beef-rich diet.

That’s all well and good, but there’s a bit of a prob­lem: Beef is yummy. It’s also very ver­sa­tile, use­ful in many favorite dishes. Still, there’s no rea­son to stop using your favorite recipes if you’re look­ing to reduce your beef intake. Here are eight sub­sti­tutes will work in your favorite beef-based recipes.

  1. Veg­gie burger — Made from veg­eta­bles (corn), tex­tured veg­etable pro­tein, beans or grain, veg­gie burg­ers offer a tasty alter­na­tive to beef burger. Veg­gie burger is free of most of the fat, cho­les­terol, and sodium found in beef. It can also be crum­bled and used in recipes that call for ground beef.
  2. Turkey — In gen­eral, turkey con­tains less fat, sodium, and fewer calo­ries than beef. Ground turkey can be sub­sti­tuted in any recipe that calls for beef. How­ever, you need to be care­ful what kind or ground turkey you buy and where you get it from, as some ven­dor will mix in more fatty dark meat and negate some of the health value.
  3. Tofu — Tasty and ver­sa­tile, tofu is a soy­bean prod­uct that can be used in dishes like stir-fry, chef’s sal­ads, and faji­tas. If used as a meat sub­sti­tute, the firm style of tofu is recommended.
  4. Legumes — Beans are low in fat and high in fiber, vit­a­mins, min­er­als, and pro­tein. They make a good beef sub­sti­tute in chili, que­sadil­las, and tacos. Be sure you soak dried beans for at least sev­eral hours before cooking.
  5. Tem­peh — A nutty-tasting prod­uct made from cooked and fer­mented soy­beans, tem­peh is a good source of pro­tein, fiber, cal­cium, and vit­a­mins. It has a firmer con­sis­tency than tofu, and thus can be used in a greater vari­ety of dishes. It’s great for every­thing from shepherd’s pie to sloppy joes.
  6. Por­to­bello Mush­room Caps — Pos­sess­ing a strong fla­vor when mar­i­nated, these meaty veg­eta­bles are rich in vit­a­mins, and min­eral, like thi­amin, vit­a­min B6, and folate. They have a great tex­ture and are use­ful for burg­ers, sand­wiches, and wraps.
  7. Sei­tan — This wheat gluten prod­uct is high in pro­tein and can be fla­vored and molded into just about any­thing. Sei­tan is a great choice for meat­balls, casseroles, pas­tas, sand­wiches, stews, or kebabs. Sei­tan can be found in Asian gro­ceries or many health food stores.
  8. Egg­plant — This meaty pur­ple veg­etable is chock full of vit­a­mins and min­er­als like fiber, antiox­i­dant, B vit­a­mins, and potas­sium. It can be used for tasty lasagna and other pasta dishes.

So, if you’re look­ing to cut down on your beef con­sump­tion, give a few of these beef sub­sti­tutes a try and see what you like.