This past week, I decided to try my hand and making a vegan meat substitute that would be comparable in texture to beef and still give me quite a bit of protein. There are a number of recipes out there for vegan burgers and meatloaf, and the ingredients used to mimic “meatiness” often include a mixture of quinoa, sweet potatoes, portabello mushrooms, oats, or beans, For this recipe, I decided to use a mixture of lentils and oats for protein, and throw in a bunch of leftover vegetables from another recipe I did to reduce food waste.
A note on protein: the average person requires .8g/kg of weight of protein per day, or 10-35% of their caloric intake, For someone like me, this amounts to a little less than 40 grams per day. A 3 oz serving of beef contains 22 grams of protein, while a cup of lentils contains only 18 grams. Even though the beef may be higher in protein, you can see that I could easily still reach about half my daily requirement for protein by having lentils. If I had cereal and soymilk for breakfast (12 g of protein), and a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread for lunch (13-16 grams of protein), that would give me (18+12+13) 43 grams of protein, not including snacks. Takeaway message from all this: While converting to a plant-based diet may result in you eating less protein than you did before, it is still very easy to meet your daily protein needs. Most meat-eaters probably consume way more protein than they need.
Recipe: Vegan Lentil Loaf
Adapted from The Simple Veganista
- 1 cup dry lentils
- 2 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons flax seed meal
- 1/3 cup water (6 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for sauteing
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced or grated
- 2 zucchini, finely diced or grated
- 1 cup oats (use GF oats if gluten-free)
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (or sub in GF flour of choice)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or garlic herb seasoning
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- Rinse lentils. Add to large pot with water or vegetable broth. Bring to boil and allow to simmer until lentils are soft, about 40 minutes.
- While lentils are cooking, saute garlic, onion, vegetables in a large pan with oil until soft, about 10 minutes.
- Mix flaxseed and 1/3 cup of water in small bowl. Allow to gel. This will be the “egg” binder in the meatloaf.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a fork, potato masher, or food processor, mash about 3/4 of the lentils.
- In a large bowl, mix together mashed lentils, remaining lentils, vegetable mixture, flaxseed egg, flour, oats, and seasonings. Taste (it’s eggless, so perfectly safe!) and add additional seasoning as desired.
- Spread mixture into oiled loaf pan. Mix glaze ingredients together and spread on top.
- Bake in oven for 45 minutes. Cool slightly before slicing.
My loaf pan is quite small, so after making the meat loaf recipe, I still had some of the mixture leftover. All I did was shape it into a patty, cook it in a pan with some oil, and put it on a whole-wheat sandwich thin to make a nice burger.