Turns out those veggie eaters have been right the whole time, according to new findings from the World Health Organization that found eating processed meats like bacon or sausage to be as carcinogenic as cigarettes and asbestos — scary stuff! Not only is meat-eating deadly for the environment and contributes more global climate change gases than all transportation sources combined, it is also deadly for people to eat super-processed meat products. Even unadulterated red meat might be more carcinogenic than we thought — not as bad as the processed meat foods, but not great.
If you are a meat eater like me, that is some bad news. Meat is not only yummy, but it adds a great firm texture to foods. As a texture person, this is important to me. Luckily, there are some great vegan options that can add both flavor and texture to food.
I know tofu has gotten a really bad reputation for being disgusting, but it can be absolutely fantastic when spiced and cooked correctly. I like to slice it to about a 1/2 thickness, spray lightly with olive oil, spice liberally with the spice family of the rest of the meal — usually Mexican, Italian, or Indian in my household — and cook in a panini press. That last bit about cooking it in a counter-top grill that both cooks and presses it at the same time turns out to give the tofu an excellent texture that is so hearty that it is unrecognizable as the mushy and tasteless white goo people usually think of when they consider tofu.
Lesser known than tofu, textured vegetable protein (TVP) has become my new favorite because of its versatile flavor and great texture. We just had nachos with TVP done like ground beef, and they were great! I cheated and put real cheese (instead of vegan cheese) on mine, and they were great. My wife is a vegan and ate hers with vegan cheese and she loved it too. Some people think TVP is not great, but it is definitely better than red meat so if you are trying to find something that works better for your own health and the global environment than ground beef, TVP is a choice worth considering.