The Food & Wine Guide to Plant-Based Meat

How to buy, cook, and enjoy this innovative protein.
By Food & Wine Editors
February 16, 2021

Americans have never been more curious about plant-based diets, and a $20 billion plant-based meat industry—set to double in value in the next few years—is fueling its popularity. Whether you're looking to eat less meat (or none at all) for nutritional, environmental, or religious reasons, learning to navigate this meaty-yet-meatless new world can be a daunting task.

First off, this new world isn't so new. Mock meat has been enjoyed for thousands of years in China and surrounding regions as an important part of Buddhist observance, and for this series, writer Clarissa Wei explores that history—and the delicious cuisine that evolved because of it. As for more recent innovations, the F&W Test Kitchen tasted and cooked with many plant-based options to find the most delicious ones, and offers guidance on how to use them. Another terrific source for knowledge? Marve McClain, who's been serving plant-based meat to her son for years without him suspecting a thing.

As for restaurants, the continued rise of vegan soul food restaurants and plant-based burgers at fast-food joints point to a bright future for plant-based meat, and the technological innovations keep coming. The marketing of meatless meat continues to evolve as products, purveyors, and recipes do. This series will take you through all the delicious possibilities.

Taste Test: The Plant-Based Meat Products You Need to Try

Plant-Based Meat Taste Test
Credit: Emily Lundin

Our testers called in loads of different plant-based meat products and cooked their way through all of them. Read More.

How to Cook with Plant-Based Meats

How To Cook with Plant-Based Meat
Credit: Photo by Ellen Mary Cronin / Food and prop styling by Radin+Croney Collective

A few pointers ensure juicy, tender results every time. Read More.

Why Are There No Real Fast-Food Veggie Burgers?

McVeggie
Credit: McDonald's

While plant-based meat alternatives are taking over American menus, it's almost impossible to find veggie burgers made from actual veggies. Read More.

I Switched My Family to Plant-Based Meat and My Teenage Son Still Doesn't Know

Marve Frazier

And don't you dare tell him. Read More.

Get the Recipe: Vegetarian Lasagna "Bolognese" with Plant-Based Meat

This faux" lasagna Bolognese delivers all the comforting flavors of the Italian classic, thanks to layers of richly seasoned plant-based meat and a quickly simmered marinara. Cheesy spinach and tender zucchini pack in even more vegetables, which get an extra umami boost from plenty of parmesan.

Credit: Photo by Ellen Mary Cronin / Food and prop styling by Radin+Croney Collective

Seeking a Better Burger Through Technology

The Future of Plant-Based Foods
Credit: Emily Lundin

A burger-loving reporter is on a hunt for the best—and it may not be made of beef. Read More.

Compton Chef Lemel Durrah's Vegan Soul Food Mission

Lemel Durrah of Compton Vegan

What started as a 21-day diet turned into a drive toward a healthier community. Read More.

What Longtime Vegetarians Think About the Plant-Based Meat Boom

Fake meat is having a moment. but what do people who didn't eat meat in the first place think about it?
Credit: Julian Birchman

The rise of plant-based meat has been great for people who recently resolved to cut back on animal protein. But what if that's been your diet all along? Read More.

Get the Recipe: Spicy Eggplant and Zucchini Stir-Fry with Plant-Based Meat

Similar in texture to ground beef with a rich, meaty flavor, plant-based crumbles are a perfect addition to quick-cooking stir-fries. Here, the eggplant and zucchini cook quickly, absorbing plenty of flavor from the chile-garlic and soy sauces, without getting overly tender.

Credit: Photo by Ellen Mary Cronin / Food and prop styling by Radin+Croney Collective

Men, Meat, and Marketing

Marketing Plant-Based Meat to Boomers
Credit: Julian Birchman

The makers of plant-based meats are up against decades—if not centuries and millennia—of messaging tying meat eating to masculinity. Read More.

Plant-Based Meat Has Thrived in Asia for Centuries—and It's Still Going Strong 

A group of nuns moving about the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society in Taiwan
Credit: An Rong Xu

Whether you call it mock, faux, or plant-based meat, vegetarian substitutes for beef, pork, chicken (and even seafood) have a long history in the greater China region—and a delicious future. Read More.

An Invitation to Vegan Comfort Food

Pinky Cole
Credit: Will Sterling

Pinky Cole is the Founder and CEO of Slutty Vegan, an ultra-popular vegan burger chain based in Atlanta, Georgia. Read More.

Get the Recipe: Vegetarian Kofta Pitas with Plant-Based Meat and Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

Crispy lamb patties stuffed into pita have been pleasing eaters from the Mediterranean to the Middle East for centuries. This version trades lamb for plant-based "beef," seasoned with tangy pomegranate molasses, fresh mint, and hot paprika to evoke the flavors of the classic.

Credit: Photo by Ellen Mary Cronin / Food and prop styling by Radin+Croney Collective

Creative Direction by Jesse Blanner and Sarah Crowder
Art Direction and Design by Tyrel Stendahl
Illustration by Emily Lundin and Julian Birchman
Recipe Photography by Ellen Mary Cronin
Food and Prop Styling by Radin+Croney Collective
Location Photography by An Rong Xu