What Is Your Favorite Meat Substitute? — Exclusive Survey

Beyond burgers, tofu scrambles, and jackfruit burritos — meat substitutes, much like dairy milk alternatives, have clearly carved out a unique place in everyday cuisine. Often better for you and better for the environment, plant-based options are on the rise, and have become increasingly present in American households. According to Forbes, 2020's vegan meat substitute market amounted to $1.4 billion, reflecting widespread enthusiasm for these delicious — and even, sometimes, meat-like — options.

It's not surprising that plant-based alternatives are doing well, given the sheer scope of the market. Vegetarian substitutes are all-encompassing, with bases ranging from lentils and cauliflower to walnuts and wheat gluten.

Yet while options are seemingly limitless — and increasingly creative — a few meat substitutes tend to have the widest appeal. Nearly half of the 615 people who responded to Tasting Table's latest survey resoundingly favored one kind of meat replacement ... and, based on its prevalence and popularity, you can probably guess the food.

Tofu takes the title of first-pick meat substitute

Tofu has been both a common meat substitute and standalone ingredient for years. However, its popularity surged during the pandemic; tofu sales increased by 40% in the first half of 2020, with Vox declaring the soy protein accessible, affordable, and versatile. Such affordability likely played a significant role in tofu's rise. Per The Washington Post, tofu stacks up as a less processed and far cheaper option against trends like the Impossible Burger and Beyond meat.

This increase in popularity reflects the results from Tasting Table's recent survey; roughly 42% of voters favored tofu, which accounted for 260 votes. To achieve a texture more akin to meat, try pressing, cubing, then freezing firm tofu before cooking it.

Following tofu was soy, which received 141 votes — or 22.94% of the favor. In third place, jackfruit appealed to 99 people, or 16.10% of the vote. Meanwhile, 11.38% of voters preferred tempeh, with 70 people in favor of the soybean-based option.

Rounding off the list, seitan enticed 45 people. More than 7% of voters favored this gluten-based meat substitute, proving that plant-based options truly run the gamut — and can run with your preferences.