How is vegetarian meat made?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How is vegetarian meat made?” and will discuss how vegetarian meat is made.

How is vegetarian meat made?

Vegetarian meat is made by mixing many plant-based proteins, such as soy, potato, pea, mung bean, and even rice protein. These nutrients, along with other plant-derived ingredients, give vegetarian meat its ideal chewy and juicy texture.

Consumer acceptance is of particular interest to plant-based meat stakeholders who are looking to increase market share. A high consumer acceptance for plant-based meat products was recorded in China (95.6%) and India (94.5%), compared to the United States (74.7%) (1).

Typically, the production of plant-based meat includes three steps: (i) Protein isolation and functionalization—Target plant proteins are extracted from plants, some of which are subjected to hydrolysis in order to improve their functionalities such as solubility and cross-linking capacity; (ii) Formulation—The plant proteins are mixed with ingredients to develop meat texture such as food adhesives, plant-based fat and flour. Nutrients are added to match or exceed the nutrient profile of the meat. (iii) Processing—The mixture of plant proteins and other ingredients undergo protein reshaping processes (e.g., stretching, kneading, trimming, pressing, folding, extrusion, etc.) to form a meat-like texture (1).

What is vegetarian meat?

You’re planning to become vegetarian this year but can’t shake your desire for non-veg meals. There’s no need to worry about anything because vegetarian meat has your back. If you’re looking for meat replacements that have the same flavor, texture, and flavor as real meat, you’ll find them here. Veggie meat replacements are designed to provide you with the same nutritional benefits as meat. In this article, you’ll learn about the process of making it, as well as several popular vegetarian meat alternatives in India.

Plant-based-meat is constructed from proteins extracted from plants with the appropriate structuring processes. Plant- and fungi-based meat products encompass the flavor, texture, and/or nutritional aspects of meat but are different in composition; namely are made from non-animal sourced materials (1). Although soybeans are currently the largest global source of protein alternatives, other vegetable protein, such as glandless cottonseed flour, canola or rape seed concentrates, and defatted peanut flour, can be used as rawmaterials (2).

How are flavors, colors, and aromas reproduced in vegetarian meat?

Soy has a similar texture to chicken, but how well does it taste like chicken? Yeast extract is often used to provide a certain chicken flavor. Vegetarian chicken may benefit from the savory flavor of yeast extract. Some of the additives that have helped to create the impression of aromatic meat in plant-based meat analogue products include the vitamin thiamine, amino acids, and reducing sugars. In addition, chicken- and beef-like fragrances have been produced from soybean-hydrolyzed protein under specific reaction conditions (2). Salt and pepper are used to enhance the flavor of the meat while sugar helps to give it a darker color. Caramel colors and malt extracts are typical heat stable coloring ingredients that can provide the final product with a brown appearance. Additionally, reducing sugars can be added as browning agents as they are capable of forming brown substances during cooking through Maillard reaction with the amine groups in protein (2).

Beet extract is often used in vegetarian meat products to get the ideal shade of red. Coconut, sunflower, or canola oil are used as a source of fat in meat substitutes like ground beef.

Is it true that vegetarian meat is better for you?

The majority of nutrients may be synthesized from non-vegetarian ingredients. Vegetarian replacements reduce the high quantities of salt and cholesterol found in non-veg diets, making them healthier. To compensate for the lack of animal protein, they include soy and plant-based proteins like whey and pea protein powder. A breakthrough creation, vegetarian meat is also an excellent choice for those who want to avoid animal products but can’t give up their appetites since it gives a comparable flavor, texture, and scent.

Besides, the key plant-based proteins utilized in plant-based meat formulations (e.g., pea, soy, wheat) provide total protein content at levels on par with animal based meat. Factors that have been identified in plant proteins that may decrease nutrient bioavailability post-ingestion include: structures resistant to proteolysis, protein conformation, and antinutrients (e.g., tannins, phytates, lectins). However, certain processing techniques (e.g., soaking, heating, sprouting) have been shown to increase digestibility. In addition, most of the current plant-based meat products are added by vitamins and heme-iron (1).

Meat Substitutes in Demand

Bill Gates and the co-founders of Twitter have invested in the meat-alternative market as demand grows due to health, environmental, and animal welfare concerns.

According to market research company Mintel, sales of fake meat products were $553 million in 2012. Meat substitutes have improved in flavor, texture, and variety, and now customers can buy anything from veggie burgers to meat-free buffalo wings.

Making of vegetarian meat

Even though meat-eating families and even a New York Times food reviewer have been fooled by these meat substitutes, how are they created? Soy protein or textured vegetable protein (TVP) in powder form is the starting point for most imitation meat products.

When it comes to making a believable meat substitute, the texture is frequently the most difficult part. Unlike meat protein, which is fibrous, soy protein is globular. This means that food makers must modify the soy’s molecular structure to make it more like meat protein.

A food extruder is often used to form the soy protein mixture after it is heated, acidified, or dissolved in a solvent. Food science professor Barry Swanson tells that the molecules “open out and become more fibrous” when denatured. As a result, you end up with something that “resembles a chunk of flesh.” 

Extrusion is a well-developed technology in the food industry. This process involves the transformation and molding of food mixtures by driving them through a die, applying heat and pressure, and using a mechanical shear to obtain the desired sizing. The production of meat analogues can be achieved by high-moisture extrusion, a technique used to manufacture fibrous products with at least 50% moisture by hydrating the food mixture during the extrusion process. Compared to products manufactured by low-moisture extrusion, high moisture extruded plant-based protein can obtain well defined fiber structure and enhanced visual appearance and mouth feel (2).

However, soy isn’t the only option for making meat substitutes. Wheat gluten, which has a flexible feel, may be easily manipulated to imitate the chewiness of meat in certain products. A double-fermentation technique is used to develop a fungus physically similar to animal protein in certain products, such as Quorn’s meat substitutes.

The method for other “meats” is much simpler. To make Phoney Baloney’s bacon, the company uses coconut flakes that have been seasoned. Co-owner Andrea Dermos says the firm uses coconut since it’s a natural and healthful fat. Because it will crisp up and take on the texture of bacon, it will also absorb all of the flavors that we marinate it in.”

Vegetarian meat taste like chicken

Beyond Meat, the “chicken” featured in Whole Foods’ curried chicken salad, is one of the newest meat substitutes that even tricked New York Times food writer Mark Bittman.

Chicken has “always been the Holy Grail,” Seth Tibbott, founder of Tofurky, told Time in 2010.

Soy, yellow peas, mustard seeds, camelina, and yeast provide the protein in Beyond Meat.

A decade was spent developing the product, but food experts describe it as having the “correct chew,” which means it has the feel of flesh. Fu-Hung Hsieh and Harold Huff of the University of Missouri created Beyond Meat’s chicken strips, which shred just like genuine chicken.

When it comes to chicken, “it doesn’t taste much like chicken, but because most white flesh chicken doesn’t taste much anyway, that is hardly an issue; both are about texture, chew, and the stuff you put on them or mix with them.”

Unflavoured meat alternatives don’t taste like animal flesh, but after they’ve reached a lifelike texture, food makers may season the fake meat to replicate anything from hot dogs and ribs to steak and calamari.

However, to achieve the flavor and aroma of meat, meat-like aromas are added to the plant-based meat products, which are produced from soybean hydrolyzed proteins. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein has been used for more than 100 years to impart meat-like flavor to prepared foods and represents one of the earliest forms of process flavorings. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein produced by acid hydrolysis of vegetable protein consists predominantly of amino acids (3).

Other FAQs about Meat that you may be interested in.

How to preserve meat

Why can’t you eat meat on Christmas eve?

Can you eat spoiled meat?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “How is vegetarian meat made?” and discussed how vegetarian meat is made.


  1. Rubio, Natalie R., Ning Xiang, and David L. Kaplan. Plant-based and cell-based approaches to meat production. Nature Commun, 2020, 11, 1-11. 
  2. He, Jiang, et al. A review of research on plant‐based meat alternatives: Driving forces, history, manufacturing, and consumer attitudes. Comprehen Rev Food Sci Food Safe, 2020, 19, 2639-2656.  
  3. Wu, Y‐F., et al. Development of a meat‐like process flavoring from soybean‐based enzyme‐hydrolyzed vegetable protein (E‐HVP). J food sci, 2000, 65, 1220-1227.