By Brittany Risher
Plant-based meats have arrived — big time. Sales skyrocketed during the pandemic, growing at a higher rate than animal meat sales and accelerating what was already an ongoing trend. No wonder some predict that the global plant-based meats market will soar from $3.3 billion in 2019 to $13.8 billion by 2027.
What that means for all of us: More options! However, more choices can also lead to more confusion. And just because a food is made from plants doesn’t mean it’s healthy. So we scoured the aisles to find the healthiest and best tasting plant-based meats.
We started by looking for products that are organic or non-GMO, have no added or artificial flavors (including no “natural flavors”), and are low in added sugars and sodium. We also gave preference to those with healthier sweeteners, like maple syrup or honey, and healthier oils, like extra-virgin olive oil over vegetable oil.
After all of that research, we narrowed down the list and conducted a taste test. Because as healthy as something may be, if it doesn’t taste good, why eat it?
Below are our top picks.
The Best Plant-Based Chorizo
For your next meatless Taco Tuesday, reach for No Evil Foods El Zapatista. It’s spicy, tomato-y, and has great texture — and almost all the seasonings are organic. You can crumble the non-GMO wheat gluten-based chorizo into large or smaller pieces to your liking.
Buy It: El Zapatista Chorizo Sausage, $9
For a softer yet just as perfectly-crumbly chorizo with a spice kick at the end, there’s Abbot’s Butcher Spanish Smoked Chorizo. Also non-GMO certified, this chorizo is made from a pea protein base that’s mixed with extra-virgin olive oil, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, and all the seasonings to create the flavor you crave.
But It: Spanish Smoked Chorizo, $10
Either chorizo you choose, we highly recommend making these vegan tacos from Two Spoons.
The Best Plant-Based Sausage
Want something with more of a firmer, more sausage-like texture, but that still brings the heat? Try Field Roast’s non-GMO Project-verified Mexican Chipotle Sausage. Perfect for breakfast scrambles, burrito bowls, dinner, and more, these hearty sausages are made from wheat gluten. Since the Mexican Chipotle flavor contains both chipotle and chili peppers, they can be too spicy some people. In that case, try the Italian Garlic and Fennel variety for a classic, don’t-burn-your-mouth sausage flavor.
Buy It: Field Roast Sausages, $7
The Best Plant-Based Bacon
If sweet is your thing, you’ll love Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon. Made from wheat gluten, organic adzuki beans, and organic buckwheat groats, this non-GMO Project-certified bacon is on the thicker size and crisps up nicely in the pan. However, if you prefer smoky bacon over sweet, this may not be your cup of tea.
Buy It: Benevolent Bacon, $5
Another great option, Hooray Foods Bacon doesn’t taste exactly like bacon, but the texture is spot-on and something about the umami seasoning made from mushrooms keeps you coming back for more. Since it’s made from coconut oil, the thin strips cook quickly—watch closely to get them exactly as limp or crisp as you like (and they definitely crisp!). One note: This bacon is salty, though; it has almost three times as much sodium as Sweet Earth.
Buy It: Plant-Based Bacon Strips, 10
The Best Plant-Based Pulled Pork
You may have tried using jackfruit to make your own barbecue. With Upton’s Naturals Shredded Bar-b-que Jackfruit, you can let someone else deal with the mess. The sauce is the perfect mix of sweet, spicy, and smoky, and there’s just enough of it to keep every piece flavorful. Be sure to break up larger chunks of jackfruit into smaller shreds as you heat it up so you really get the “pulled pork” effect.
Buy It: BBQ Jackfruit, $4