You’re not even a vegetarian or a vegan — but your doctor advised you to cut out the heavy red meats from your diet and heap up on the veggies. What to do?

 Relax, you don’t have to sacrifice your love of meat right now. In fact, you can make use of plant-based ingredients, particularly vegetables and fruits, to replace the meat ingredients in meatballs, burgers, and your favorite roast pork dish.

All you need is a bit of creativity and an open mind – and stomach – to taste something new and find it also as appetizing and delicious as your fav pot roast dish – but a lot healthier for the body.

Here are a few vegetables – and fruits — that can substitute for meat:


Many a dish using mushrooms had always fooled countless people to think they’re eating meat. Their flavor is rich, meaty, and earthy, particularly the Portobello or cremini mushrooms.

A great way to cook them is to saute them in vegan butter and add black pepper, balsamic vinegar, and thyme. Then you can serve them over vegan spaghetti or any vegan pasta. You can also serve them sautéed with nuts or included in a vegan hamburger with leafy greens. Just make sure your mushrooms are grown organically or are harvested in wild areas of the country where pesticides and herbicides do not abound.


Eggplant has a rich, meaty taste which makes it very versatile in making into burger patties or as stuffed eggplant meatballs, or even as eggplant noodles. Try cooking them as fries with a tangy lemon-based sauce.


Jackfruit is actually a fruit but can also be used to substitute meat in meat-based dishes. In certain parts of the Philippines, jackfruit or “langka” in Tagalog, is cooked as a viand dish with coconut milk. Its seeds are also boiled with a little salt and taste meaty too.

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes abound in the Philippines, and can be easily and cheaply obtained. Filling to the core, these black beans, mung beans, kidney beans, chickpeas and black-eyed beans (for our traditional mungo dish) can be made into flavorful stews, soups, and chilis.

Beans and legumes are amazing. They are inexpensive, healthy, filling, and there are so many to choose from: black beans, kidney beans, white beans, pinto beans, aduki beans, chickpeas and black-eyed peas, to name just a few. Beans make for hearty soups, stews, sausage fillings, and chilis. Sprinkle them over a tuna and greens salad and you have a heartening dish for lunch or dinner.


Lentils can always replace ground beef or pork anytime. It has a range of colors – red, brown, black, or green – and can be purchased cheaply. They can also be made into burgers, meatballs, and as fillings for vegan tacos. My particular favorite is when it is used as a stew with turmeric and dahl.


You can slice the cauliflower into steak-sized portions, brown on each side on a hot plate, and served with other greens and sauces. All you need to do is to season it and it will taste like meat.


Beets are sweet and perfect for salads, but do you know they can also taste meaty and used in savory dishes? Roasted, they can taste like meat when included in roast burgers and salad dishes. Yummy!


Nuts are not actually vegetables but you can make them into vegan cheese and replace meat in dishes. They can also be included with other greens and made into a “meatloaf”. Nuts taste meaty enough to be included in vegan burgers.


Potatoes – the Western-sourced potatoes — are great to boil, bake, fry, or mash. They taste like meat but they are a no-no to cancer patients because of the high carbohydrates/glucose content. If you’re not a cancer patient and you have a way to source organic potatoes, try making potatoes into potato steaks or burgers. In fact, some time ago, the American fast food chain Wendy’s used to serve baked potatoes – and they taste very much like meat. You can make a potato cake as well.

So, there are a lot of vegetables and fruits you can use to replace your meat-based dishes. All you need to do is look and maintain an open mind for new explorations.