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Can You Substitute Lentils for Meat?

Can You Substitute Lentils for Meat?

One of the most common questions that omnivores face in our winter celebration of Veganuary is, but what can we use instead? Meat is such a focus of the British diet that just the idea of managing without it is enough to send most people into a tailspin. As regular readers of this blog (Hello, you two!) know the majority of Rafi’s Curry Packs are vegan, so anytime you have had a veggie curry you have already had a vegan meal; but what about when you have a hankering for a Kheema Madras or a Cottage Pie? Look no further, here is a quick guide to why you should swap lentils for beef and how to do it!

What most people fear when adopting a plant based diet is that that means high fibre, low protein food, and that they will be left feeling hungry.as a result. One way around this is to incorporate more lentils into your meals. We have waxed lyrical about the wonders of these legumes - yes, lentils are part of the legume family - before and it is easy to see why.

Why are lentils good for you?

Lentils provide protein, are very high in fibre, low in fat, and are packed with nutrients like iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc and folate. We need about 25 grams of fibre per day, but most don’t come close to that target. 150 grams of cooked lentils provides about 10 grams, including both soluble and insoluble fibre.

Insoluble fibre prevents constipation and decreases the risk of colon cancer. But it’s the soluble fibre in lentils that makes them a powerhouse for heart health, because it lowers LDL (or “lousy” cholesterol), which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Replacing beef with lentils also reduces the saturated fat content, which may help lower cholesterol.

As a source of complex carbohydrates, lentils are low on the glycemic index, meaning that as they’re digested, they cause a lower, slower rise in blood sugars than simple carbohydrates. This helps control appetite by making you feel full longer, and is helpful in managing blood glucose levels.

How to use lentils instead of minced meat

As well as being very, very good for you, lentils also add some much needed texture to vegan meals, which is one of the reasons that they make such a great beef substitute. For every 500g of ground beef, you can substitute 150g of dried, uncooked lentils; once cooked this will result in 500g of cooked lentils.

The best lentils to use as a beef substitute are black, brown or green lentils, preferably with their skins still on. Red lentils (the most common type sold in the UK) have a distinct flavour which can interfere with the taste of some dishes, although they make a good substitute for pork mince. Brown and green lentils also hold their shape better when cooked, so they are closer in texture to crumbled cooked ground beef, and are more adaptable, where as red lentils can quickly become mushy.

So go forth and enjoy Veganuary without sacrificing any of your favourite minced meat dishes!

Do you have any lentil dishes that you love? Feel free to share them with us on our Facebook page!