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I have a casserole dish that requires ground beef, which I don't want to use. What alternatives can I use which don't involve soy beans?

I'm not looking for something with the same taste as meat, just something with (fairly) the same consistency.

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closed as too broad by rumtscho Nov 8 '13 at 13:24

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Questions asking for a list of answers should be Community Wiki. I have converted this for you. –  hobodave Sep 15 '10 at 19:32
What's your reasoning for avoiding soy-based fake meat? –  Brendan Long Sep 15 '10 at 19:36
@Brendan: As far as avoiding products that taste like meat: I can't stand products that try to artificial replicate the taste of meat. I'd much rather have, for example, a burger like patty made of vegetables where I can actually taste the vegetables used. –  Senseful Sep 23 '10 at 5:16
@Brendan: As far as avoiding soy: I don't want to eat too many soy isoflavones, plus I already know that soy could be used as a substitute. –  Senseful Sep 23 '10 at 5:18
I went vegan because I don't like how meat tastes, so I can attest that most substitutes don't taste like meat, nor do they really try to. –  lemontwist Aug 3 '12 at 18:26

9 Answers 9


They're delicious, and you can get them dried in bulk if the local selection of fresh doesn't suit you. Chop 'em up (re-hydrate first if dried), saute 'em, and toss 'em in...

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Seitan could work for this. It's a meat-substitute made from wheat protein (i.e. gluten). It generally comes in lumps/patties, but can be easily minced/ground/chopped or whatever.

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And it's easy to make. I use this recipe for sausages, taco "steak" and lunch meat (changing the spices as needed): vegandad.blogspot.com/2008/03/homemade-sausages.html –  Brendan Long Sep 15 '10 at 19:34
There are also gluten free alternatives in case you don't like the taste or texture of seitan: cupcakekitteh.blogspot.com/2011/10/… –  lemontwist Aug 3 '12 at 18:35


They're best known for their delicious chicken-esque patties, but they also do a mince that's lovely. It's mushroom protein rather than soy, but it doesn't taste mushroomy.

Quorn products use egg white, so they are vegetarian but not vegan.


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It depends on the other flavors in your casserole, but you might find success with some other kinds of beans - for example, small "black beans" or cooked lentils (or a combination of the two). I would also suggest mushrooms (portobellos have a nice "meaty" texture that holds up when cooked), diced eggplant or some of the root veggies (maybe diced turnips and beets combined) with some chopped nuts thrown in for protein and a little more texture. Also, if you are vegetarian and not vegan, what about a nice cheese?

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Check the substitute meat products made by the Field Roast Company. All products are vegan and are non- soy based.

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A firm Polenta (corn) substitutes nicely for meat in some casseroles. Linked recipe calls for stovetop, but I usually use microwave, then let set overnight in fridge. Naturally if you make it yourself, you can add any spicing you like to make it match your casserole. If needed for recipe, polenta fries up nicely too.

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While they won't have the same texture as meat, there are a lot of vegetables which can give a nice consistency for your dishes. As far as I'm concerned, I've always found that ground meat-substitute (such as Quorn listed above) doesn't really add much to a dish anyway. (The fact that mushrooms is the best-voted answer so far tends to show I'm not alone in this line of reasoning.)

Depending on the dish, you may want to use for example:

  • lentils (for a spaghetti sauce, for example)
  • chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I've seen this recommended for a carbonara-style sauce)
  • beans (pretty much a given in a chili-type dish)
  • cashew nuts (I'd say to put them in anything, but I guess I just love them too much) - or any other nut, really, especially if you happen to like crunchy stuff.
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I was going to say Quorn, as I favor it myself ( I am also not a fan of too much soy tasting products) but somebody already beat me too it. But Quorn is not made with mushrooms, it is a mycoprotein food product. This is extracted from a fungus which is grown in large vats. But it is still delicious. And I love the way It cooks, you can substitute Quorn for almost anything meat, if you wish.

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Tempeh. We find it delicious in pasta sauce. Chop and saute.

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Tempeh is made with soy beans.. –  Brendan Long Sep 15 '10 at 19:35
+1, as it is possible to make tempeh with beans/grains other than soy. A few companies make such tempeh (e.g. Smilling Hara), but it is not too common to find in the market. –  shootingstars Jul 18 '13 at 9:56

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