my go-to meat free substitutes

Need more vegetarian recipes under your belt? Don't fret pet, I got you.

I love cooking and do every day. Most nights it's either me or me and the flatmate, that's T, she also features on here as Sh*t My SA Friend Says. Jay tends to make himself scarce around 6.30pm to avoid any chance of culinary involvement. He does wash dishes well, so I'm okay with that.

Some nights we'll wear our creative hats and dinner is all kinds of wonderful. Other nights, it's the tried and true favourites that make life a little easier. Simple, meat-free and bloody tasty. These recipes range in terms of their health factor and can be tailored as you wish to suit your nutrition needs.

Cooking vegetarian or plant-based doesn't mean you'll be eating over steamed broccoli and tomato pasta every day. Try these, and maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised. I know you will. 

Crispy Cajun Tofu / Vegan + Gluten Free


I can't claim this recipe as my own because it came from a friend of a friend, but I wish I could because it's seriously good. 

Prep time / 15 minutes
Cook time / 15 minutes
Serves / 2-3 


1 block tofu, make sure to buy organic & non-GMO. Will serve 3-4 people
1/4 C almond meal
2 Tbsp gluten free flour or rice flour
1/4 C coconut milk
2 Tbsp almond milk
1 Tbsp Sriracha
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp smoked paprika, optional
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
coconut oil, enough for frying


  1. Line a small baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

  2. Remove the tofu from it's wrapping and pat dry with a tea towel. Chop the block into even bite sized pieces and add them into a bowl.

  3. Take two bowls and have these in front of you. Add all of the dry ingredients into one and whisk together. Then add the wet ingredients aside from the coconut oil into the other and stir.

  4. Set up your dredging station so you use one hand for wet and one for dry. It makes things that much easier. Take a handful of tofu at a time and drop them into the wet bowl. Coat evenly then using your wet hand, drop them into the dry bowl. Using your dry hand, toss and coat evenly, making sure to press the coating into any patches that aren't covered. Dust of any excess and place them onto the lined baking tray. Once complete, place the tray into the freezer to firm up for 12-15 minutes. This part is optional but I think it makes for a crispier tofu bite.

  5. In a large pan over medium heat, add in the coconut oil. Once melted drop in some of the tofu, making sure the pan isn't over crowded. Fry until crispy on all sides. Remove and drain on a paper towel.

I have a big green salad with these bites. Topped wth avocado, toasted seeds and a lemon dressing.

Tempeh 'Bacon' BLATS / Vegetarian + Gluten free


Prep time / 10 minutes
Cook time / 5 minutes
Serves / 3-4


1 block tempeh, make sure to buy organic & non-GMO. This will serve 3-4 people
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
2 Tbsp tamari
1/2 tsp liquid smoke, this is optional, but it makes it taste that much better
gluten free bread of choice, enough for two pieces each
1 large tomato, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
cos lettuce leaves, as many, as you like
3-4 Tbsp mayo of choice
extra Himalayan salt and black pepper


  1. Slice tempeh into thin strips, roughly one-third of a cm thick and place in a large bowl or dish.
  2. In a bowl whisk together Himalayan salt, tamari, and liquid smoke then add to the tempeh. Make sure each piece is evenly coated.
  3. To a pan over medium heat add in coconut oil. Once melted place in the tempeh strips, you may need to do these in two batches. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until lightly crisp. Flip and repeat. Add in more coconut oil if too dry. Remove from the pan and lay on top of a paper towel to drain.
  4. Toast the bread then begin to layer the sandwich. Start with spreading each piece with mayo then top with cos, tempeh, tomato and avocado, season with salt and pepper then add on the top. Slice in half and serve.

Lunch or dinner or heck why not even breakfast, this sammy is gold.

Re-fried Black Bean Quesadillas / Vegan + Gluten + Dairy Free


Prep time / 10 minutes
Cook time / 15 minutes
Serves / 2-3 


1 can black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
6-8 vegan corn wraps
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp red onion, chopped into half moons
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 tsp coriander, ground
1 C vegetable stock
1/2 C vegan cheese, grated
1 tsp Himalayan salt


  1. Drain and rinse the beans then set aside.
  2. In a pan over medium heat, add in coconut oil and sliced onions. Sauté for a couple of minutes before adding in chopped garlic. Season with salt.
  3. To the pan, add the black beans and vegetable stock, then cook over low heat for five minutes.
  4. Using a fork, mash the beans until a thick mixture forms. There will be some whole and some mashed which helps create a chunky paste texture. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. In a separate pan, add a dash of extra coconut oil and place in three of the tortillas. Spoon 1 Tbsp of beans onto each tortilla and top evenly with the cheese and a pinch more salt. Place the remaining tortillas on top and press down gently. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes until done. Slice into half moons and eat hot.

I served mine with a spicy relish, but lashings of lime mayo with fresh coriander work a treat too.



things to think about

If you're interested, I've laid out some pretty hefty facts regarding the meat industry and animal welfare below, along with some links to a few documentaries that offer great insight. 

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. 
    "Livestock's Long Shadow: environmental issues and options". Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Rome 2006.

  • Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.
    "Livestock a major threat to environment. Remedies urgently needed". FAO Newsroom. 29 November 2006
    Walsh, Bryan. "The Triple Whopper Environmental Impact of Global Meat Production". Time. Dec. 16, 2013

  • 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.
    "Overfishing: a threat to marine biodiversity". United Nations Environment Programme "General situation of world fish stocks". United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.

  • 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries.
    Oppenlander, Dr. Richard. "The World Hunger-Food Choice Connection: A Summary". Comfortably Unaware Blog. August 2012"Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress". UNICEF. April 2013
    "Livestock production index". The World Bank
    "Global livestock production systems". Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Rome 2011

  • Research reveals that if a man avoids eating red meat, it improves the sex appeal of his body odour.
    Take what you will from this one.

Documentaries / I'd recommend doing your own research into these, some can be pretty heavy.

  • Cowspiracy
  • Forks Over Knives
  • Earthlings