The Lowdown on Plant-Based ‘Meats’ and Where to Get them in Manila
Climate change and health are just some of the reasons why it could be a good decision to try plant-based meats!
The plant-based diet has taken off in a new and exciting way. Billion-Dollar companies with investors such as Bill Gates have launched successful IPOs , while meat alternatives are now available alongside animal meat in the grocery section in many countries. This way of eating has landed in the Philippines in a big way, with more and more vegan alternatives available in stores from small businesses and larger companies, such as Beyond. As of this writing, Shakey's has launched its plant-based "Goood Burger" and Burger King now has a plant-based, flame-grilled Whopper alongside its beloved classics.
But what of plant-based ‘meats’? How much do we know about them, and where are they available to try?
These new plant meats make use of less land and energy and emit a lower amount of green house gases compared to traditional animal farming, and could be the answer to the problem of over consumption of meat and the implications it has on the environment [and our health]. These plant-based meats do not have hormones, antibiotics and are cruelty free alternatives.
I’d like to break down the plant ‘meats’ into three categories; ultra-processed, processed, and whole food. The biomimicry approach is the ultra processed method of creating plant based products. These have ingredients are derived from plants , synthesized to achieve the same taste, texture, as animal protien such as Beyond Meat and the Impossible burger. These are by far, are the most realistic plant meat alternatives that even meat eaters have found satisfaction with.
Next are processed products; these are the mock meats that make up a majority of products locally made in the Philippines by small producers. They make use of soy, wheat proteins, plant starches and flours to create the ‘meat’ product.
Last but not least are whole food products which are minimally processed to not processed at all such as bean and mushroom burgers, that make use of the original plant source, but shaped into a patty or sausage. All have their own benefits and specific uses; the best part is, that those who want to try plant based meats have a large variety now available in the Philippines.
Beyond meat is the industry’s leading plant based meat substitute. Made from plant proteins from rice, fava bean and our very own monggo, combined with coconut oil, expeller pressed canola (not: not chemically-derived which most cheap canola oils are) beets for coloring and apple extract that lends to the perfect sweetness. Beyond meat does not have any GMO ingredients does not make use of soy, (quite a controversial ingredient) and is also gluten-free which makes it a superior choice.
Beyond meat has a range of products including Beyond sausage, which tastes like a European sausage. A favourite element in Beyond sausage is that it still has the ‘crunch and pop’ you get when biting into a sausage, but this time, instead of biting into pig intestine for the casing, the Beyond Sausage makes use of calcium alginate, made from sea weed.
Beyond Meat is distributed by Prime Pacific Food Corporation and is available at Wholemart.com.ph
Omni Pork is the first meat alternative targeted to Asians, as Asians were found to consume more pork and chicken compared to beef. Think about any beloved Filipino ‘vegetable’ dish such as Gising-Gising or Ginataang Gulay, with bits of pork smuggled in them. Omni Pork is a pork substitute made with shiitake mushrooms, peas, non-GMO soy and rice. It is the perfect ingredient to mix in dumplings, lumpia or with your favorite Filipino vegetable dish. Recently, Omni released its alternative to ‘Spam’; a plant based luncheon meat. Cooking tip: Since the product has no preservatives or extra binders, it is best cooked from the frozen state. (Note: Omni is not gluten-free as it contains Barley, a cereal with gluten)
Omni pork is available at Wholemart.com.ph
Alpha Foods: The New Chicken
Made with a variety of textured soy and wheat proteins, Alpha is the answer to the chicken nugget. Packed with flavour and with a crispy crunch, Alpha products include nuggets and patties perfect to make a variety of ‘chicken’ based recipes with. (Note: contains soy and gluten)
Alpha is available at Wholemart.com.ph
There are a whole host of home grown plant-based meat substitutes that capture the local favorites:
The Good Choices
Perhaps the best bet when you want your fix of tocino, longanisa, embotido, the Good Choices captures the sweet-savory Pinoy taste. Their ‘pork bbq’ is a favorite, made from soy protein, and even has the sticky sweet bbq sauce that gets stuck on the corners of your mouth when you bite into it! Their ‘bacon’ make from cassava starch has a smokey taste of Filipino crispy bacon (no other bacon in the West tastes like ours!) that we know and love. Other favourites include Tofu scramble (eggs), Sisig, Tapa, Tocino, Isaw, Embutido, Adobo and a whole lot of Filipino favourites!
The Good Choices delivers right to your doorstep. Also available at Real Food. The Good Choices is located at 1365 E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave., Quezon City. Real Food has branches in BGC and Molito, Alabang.
The Vegan Grocer
By far, the Vegan Grocer, as it names states, has the largest assortment of vegan meat replacements. They carry almost all the locally-produced brands as well as Taiwanese products which taste amazingly real. Their selection is so extensive, their product list is broken down into those that are gluten-free, casein-free, garlic and onion-free. My favorite items that make their way into my hot pot are the ‘Tilapia’ and ‘Shrimp’ and are made of a mix of gluten-free flours. The shrimp looks so realistic that my sister who is deathly allergic to shrimp was afraid to taste it. They also have an amazing selection of ‘squid ‘ and ‘fish’ balls as well as several dumplings and a killer ‘pork bagnet’ made of cassava flour which is completely gluten-free.
My favorite thing about The Vegan Grocer are the lovely people who run it and are so helpful and knowledgeable about products. If you are thinking of trying out vegan food, this is a safe place to start!
Contact The Vegan Grocer at (0917) 192 0346 or follow them on Instagram @thevegangrocerph. It is located at 201 Recto St. Brgy. Addition Hills, Manila.
The Good Seed
Local favourites such as tapa, longganisa, and callos are made from mushrooms and assorted vegetables, with all of the familiar tastes and textures. My favorite product here is the Vegan Bagoong which is a perfect compliment to any Pinoy dish! These meals are seasoned exactly like their original versions and are delicious.
Sift is a vegan and gluten-free brand you can trust. When I order anything from here, I know that it's clean and safe for me to eat! Now offering ready meals such as beefless bibimbap, their bean sausages are a favourite as owner Mikee Mauricio soaks the beans ( to reduce phytic acid and to be digested easier) for a few days before making them into sausages.
Follow @Siftlifestyle to place your order. Also available at Real Food BGC and Molito, Alabang.
The Daily Butlery
The vegan burger of the Daily Butlery is a large satisfying patty made with a variety of beans, rice and mushrooms, herbs and spices. Its one of the most filling and satisfying vegetable burgers on the market. Order their sundried tomato sauce (vegan!) to go with it! While you are on their page, order the vegan moussaka! This can be frozen and saved for a day when you don’t want to cook!
For orders, send a Viber message to (0917) 553 3493 or follow them on Instagram at @the_daily_butlery
Lead photos via Fuzzy Rescue from Pexels, @ the_daily_butlery, @siftlifestyle