4 Easy Vegan Substitutes for Ground Beef

So you finally decided to go vegan. Congratulations! It’s a wonderful journey – one that will reward you in so many ways. But now that you’ve exhausted all the vegan standards you know of (salad, probably), odds are you’re staring in the fridge wondering what in the world you’ll be able to make for dinner.

With meat, eggs and dairy off the table and little experience to go off of, it can be so easy to want to throw up your hands in exasperation and say, “It’s just not worth it! I don’t even know where to start!” Fortunately for you, Care2 has got your back.

We know that, sometimes, the best thing you can do to maintain a plant-based diet in the long term is to go back to the foods you know and love, just with a vegan twist. So grab those ground beef-centric comfort food recipes you know and love, because now they’re back on the table. Literally!

Go-To Ground Beef Substitutes

1. Good old fashioned tofu

Tofu has been a favorite of vegans for decades because of its flexible texture and ability to absorb whatever flavors it comes into contact with. Made from soybeans, it’s a fantastic source of protein and it crumbles nicely, making it an excellent ground beef substitute in casseroles, lasagna and tacos (yum!).

To get the most out of your tofu, purchase the firmest texture you can find (usually called extra-firm) and press out excess water for about 15 minutes using a dish towel and heavy pot or skillet.

Try this vegan ‘ground beef’ recipe using tofu.

2. Lentils

Lentils are a fabulous vegan ground beef substitute. Use in sloppy joes, shepherd’s pie, soups, burgers – basically any way you please! Mark this down for later: one cup of lentils (before cooking) roughly equals a pound of ground beef.

Seitan or tofu meat with tomato

Lentils also carry more moisture than ground beef and can water down your meal if you aren’t careful. To ensure the smoothest subbing possible, you’ll either want to reduce the amount of moisture in your recipe or cook the lentils ahead of time.

Try this green lentil burger recipe, these lentil almond burgers or any of these (totally not boring) lentil recipes.

3. Textured soy protein (or TSP)

Usually referred to as TSP, textured soy protein is, at a base level, defatted soy flour. It’s super inexpensive, rehydrates easily and takes on the texture of ground meat.

TSP is likely to hold its shape a little bit better than your standard-fare tofu, but it requires a little bit of extra prep before use. Typically, you’ll need to rehydrate the TSP granules with water, then drain before using in your recipe – sort of like pasta.

4. Seitan

Seitan is essentially wheat gluten. It has a certain chewiness that is reminiscent of ground beef and also has a super high protein content, making it an excellent substitute for the former.

Keep in mind that seitan has little flavor on its own, so you’ll need to load up on the seasonings (but who’s complaining?). Unfamiliar with this ingredient? Here are a few of our favorite seitan recipes!


Hannah A
Hannah A1 months ago

thank you for sharing

Chad A
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Thank you.

Elinor D
Elinor Dorrian2 months ago

All good.

Naomi B
Naomi B2 months ago

Thanks for sharing!

Jan S
Jan S2 months ago

thank you

Edgar Z
Edgar Zuim2 months ago

Thanks. Lentil is my favorite grain

Naomi D
Naomi D2 months ago

Thankk you

Paulo Reeson
Paulo R2 months ago


Linda Wallace
Linda W2 months ago

Thank you. I stopped eating ground beef years ago.

Val P
Val P2 months ago