Over the last few years, there’s been a huge increase in plant-based chicken alternatives available at grocery stores all over the country — and the world. Here are 12 brands for you to explore.
Many meat-eaters consider chicken as the healthier go-to option compared with red meat. While it’s true that it’s leaner and contains less cholesterol and saturated fat, this just isn’t good enough. Why bother, when there are so many great vegan chicken substitutes available? Here are a few good reasons to lose the bird:
Eating chicken can put you at risk for diseases. According to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers from Oxford University found that chicken consumption can heighten the risk of certain diseases. The Food and Drug Administration also admitted to chicken meat being filled with arsenic, a highly poisonous chemical.
Chicken is infested with bacteria. In 2013, Consumer Reports ran an analysis on raw chicken breasts from retailers all over the U.S. The analysis found that ninety-seven percent of the samples “harbored bacteria that could make you sick.” Based on their findings, they discovered that there were high traces of intestinal bacteria present on these samples, including E. coli, Enterococcus, and Salmonella.
Chickens have feelings. According to animal behaviorist Dr. Chris Evans, chickens can be just as intelligent as cats and dogs. He claims that they are “good at solving problems” and can comprehend that objects still exist after they are recently hidden. A study done by researcher Joanne Edgar found that chickens “have empathy and the motherly instinct of hens allows them to ‘feel’ the pain their chicks experience.”
The poultry industry is destroying the environment. The United Poultry Concerns reports that this industry kills fish and other wildlife. Also, poultry slaughtering heavily pollutes the land, air, and water with all kinds of things too gross to list here. This also causes issues with our drinking water as nitrate and pathogens transfer to groundwater.
Luckily, brands are stepping up to end cruelty ato chickens by coming up with plant-based chicken products in more varieties than you could imagine. Here are some plant-based chicken brands that you are sure to find, either in your local supermarket, natural foods store, or online, that will satisfy any chicken craving you may have!
Photo: Abbot’s Butcher
Abbot’s Butcher is a plant-based meat company founded in 2016 by Kerry Song. Song had a deep desire to live more authentically and believed that he could do so by building a more meaningful connection with food, which is how Abbot’s Butcher came to be. They are committed to sourcing responsibly and ethically with no plans of taking shortcuts or settling as they promise consumers to be rooted in purpose and integrity.
In addition to producing beef and chorizo alternatives, Abbot’s Butcher also offers a chicken alternative called “Chopped Chick’n”. Their chicken alternative is created in a “slow roast” style with a tender, juicy, and mild flavor. Thanks to its light flavor, consumers have the option to further season or marinate it if they desire.
According to vegan news and recipe site, LiveKindly, Abbot’s Butcher “has won over the stomachs of vegans and self-proclaimed carnivores alike.” At this time, Abbot’s Butcher products are primarily sold in natural food stores on the west coast. Here you can search for a location that carries their products closest to you.
Photo: Butler Soy Curls
Butler Soy Curls
Created in Oregon by Dan Butler, Butler Foods is an independent, family-owned business looking to end starvation and famine with the use of natural, whole foods, plant-based diet.
Butler Foods offers a selection of plant-based meats, including taco crumbles, harvest jerky, and soy curls – a general meat alternative. However, if you’re looking for a chicken alternative that contains zero chemicals, additives, or preservatives then consider trying out the brand’s soy curls. Butler Food even offers a “Chik-Style” seasoning to pair with their soy curls to achieve a rich and hearty chicken flavor. Here you can find some recipes by Butler Foods.
Butler’s Soy Curls come dehydrated but after a quick fifteen-minute soak, they plump up into meat-like strands. After soaking, you can prepare the soy curls as one would with real chicken.
Butler’s Soy Curls are sold in health food stores all over the state as well as internationally in Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe. Here you can find a local stores that carry Butler Food’s products near you. They’re available online as well.
Created in 2015 by Lunchables inventor, Dr. Rody Hawkins, Improved Nature aims to transform plant-based meat alternatives that provide the same similar taste and texture that consumers crave with just ONE ingredient: non-GMO soy protein.
Improved Nature offers a wide variety of slices, fillets, nuggets, shreds, etc – all of which taste like chicken. Thanks to a process that requires heat, pressure, and steam, the company has also been able to recreate the texture of chicken. The best part of it all is that they have a two-year shelf life and are ready to prepare.
When the company first launched its products in 2017, they were only being used in the food service market (schools, hospitals, etc.) Soon after in 2019, Improved Nature made its official retail debut at Shop Rite.
If you don’t have a Shop Rite near you, don’t worry! The company also takes online orders and sends its products right to your doorstep.
In 2019, nineteen-year-old Australian technology entrepreneur Ben Pasternak founded NUGGS (AKA “The Tesla of Chicken”), an alternative-meat company that creates meatless “chicken” nuggets. After about a year since pitching his chicken-less nuggets, the company sold over one million pounds of its product and continues to grow in popularity.
NUGGS are created using advanced soy protein technology that produces a texture and flavor similar to an animal-based nugget. Not only do you get to enjoy a delicious nugget without the use of animal products, but you are also getting the protein you need. NUGGS have thirteen grams of protein, which is about twenty-five percent more than animal-based. Best of all, they are free of cholesterol.
According to Ari Solomon of Veganista, the nuggets “look closer to McNuggets than any other vegan nugget I’ve seen. Biting into them, they are super crispy on the outside and tender, and — I hate this word — moist on the inside. The texture and flavor were excellent. It’s a solid nugget.”
NUGGS is currently working on the launch of new products, including spicy nuggets, a “chicken burger product”, and hot dogs in the near future. Here you can place an order to have a box of NUGGS delivered to your home.
Sweet Earth Foods
Founded in 2012 by husband and wife duo Brian and Kelly Swette, Sweet Earth Foods has a goal to “nourish lives by making smart food choices that honor and sustain the land, cultivate a curious mind and palate, and sustain a healthy body.”
Inspired by their daughter who became a vegetarian in high school, the Swettes used their marketing and sales experience to launch Sweet Earth Foods. The company currently has about sixty products on the market, including burritos, bowls, pizza, and more.
Also, Sweet Earth Foods has a very wide selection of chik’n products, including chik’n fajita bowls, butter chick’n, Chinese chik’n, Filipino adobo chik’n, and many more. A majority of their chik’n meals are heat-and-go, making it perfect for those who are constantly on the run and need a convenient meal.
Earlier this summer, Sweet Earth Foods announced that they will be introducing eight new burritos and entree bowls. A handful of them are chik’n options, so be on the lookout soon! Their website offers a range of recipes along with information on locations that acquire Sweet Earth Foods products near you.
Founded in 1980 by Seth Tibbot, Tofurky started as a family-owned company with the intention to make vegans feel included on holidays like Thanksgiving with a “turkey” made from tofu and seasonings.
After a few trials and errors, Tibbot perfected his recipe in 1995. Ever since, vegans have been able to partake in Thanksgiving dinner rather than only sticking to side dishes. Sales continue to reflect the love that consumers have for Tofurky roasts as they sell between 350,000 and 400,000 per year.
Despite its name, Tofurky goes beyond making plant-based turkey alternatives. They also have a line of slow-roasted chick’n products in which there are four different flavors: lightly seasoned, thai basil, sesame garlic, and barbecue.
According to Sarah Von Alt of ChooseVeg, their chik’n products are “super easy to prepare” and vary in flavor. She backs up her testimony by providing easy and delicious recipe ideas that are ideal for each flavor. Find a store that carries Tofurky products near you here .
Viana is a German vegan and vegetarian brand of the company Tofutown that was founded in 1988 in Cologne, Viana. Their mission is to recreate traditional German flavors into vegan dishes as a way to promote sustainability and kindness to animals and the planet.
The main ingredients in Viana products are wheat, soybeans, and organic vegetables to create their meat alternatives, drinks, creams, and other products. Not only are they incredibly delicious, but they are also packed with protein, cholesterol-free, USDA organic, and non-GMO.
In addition to making plant-based jerky, steaks, sausages, etc., Viana also produces “chickin” nuggets and fillets. Their “chickin” products have a light breading with a dense, chicken-y flavor on the inside with a cook time of fewer than ten minutes.
Gulden of VegFusion says the “chickin” fillets are “fast, practical, organic, and vegan. However, they are nothing like how they look on the package. Viana Veggie Chickin Fillets are more like real chicken schnitzels minus the thick batter. Although he thought “they are quite dense” he loved the taste.
Here you can explore this German brand even further and see what other products they have to offer. If you are interested in making a purchase, visit Vegan Essentials and they will send products right to your doorstep!
Photo: Dr. Praeger’s
Dr. Praeger’s Purely Sensible Foods
In 1994, cardiac surgeons Dr. Peter Praeger and Dr. Eric Somberg founded Dr. Praeger’s Purely Sensible Foods in hopes of bringing healthy and flavorsome food options to the table for everyone to enjoy.
The company is now owned by Praeger and Somberg’s sons, though it still stays true to its roots as they continue to be a family-owned business with a mission to continually work on expanding their products. As of now, they offer chick’n sliders and chick’n tenders in various flavors, such as Gametime Buffalo and Grampa Mel’s BBQ.
Andrew Kirschner of Kirschner’s Korner says “The texture is spot-on, the taste is comparable, the price is reasonable, and they taste healthier than other plant-based chicken options.”
Here you can find a store near you that sells Dr. Praeger’s products. If you’d prefer to stay in, their site also provides a list of delivery services that will send their products right to your door.
Photo: Field Roast
Field Roast is a Seattle-based, plant-based company started by Chef David Lee in 1996. The company started by making vegetarian meats with spices, grains, and healthy fats. Over twenty years later, Field Roast offers meat and cheese alternatives to millions of consumers nationwide.
Field Roast offers many varieties of alternative meat products, including sausages, deli slices, burgers, nuggets, roasts, and more. If you’re specifically looking for plant-based chicken alternatives, Field Roast does offer “FRuffalo” wings, smoked apple sage sausage, and nuggets which recently launched in June of 2020.
Selena from Selena Thinking Out Loud says that the “FRuffalo” wing sauce is “authentic to what you would taste in a sauce from a chicken wing restaurant. However, the flavor of the hot and spicy sauce is tasty.”
Ever since 2009, Gardein has been changing the game as we know it. From plant-based seafood to beef-less tips, Gardein has not only stolen the hearts of vegans but carnivores as well.
Gardein offers a huge variety of plant-based meat products, including fish-less, beef-less, pork-less, jerky, and more. Just last year in the summer of 2019, Gardein announced the launch of new vegan tenders, wings, and nuggets.
When it comes to their chick’n products, Gardein’s options seem endless. They now offer chick’n in different forms: wings, tenders, cutlets, strips, patties, filets, and sliders. Their flavors are just as versatile with options like chipotle, Nashville hot, teriyaki, chipotle lime, mandarin, and more.
After trying Gardein’s Seven Grain Crispy Tenders and Chick’n Filets, Matt Frazier from No Meat Athlete says “it was easy to forget that what I was eating didn’t come from a slaughtered animal.” Faye of the Veganopoulous tried about a handful of Gardein’s Chick’n products and said that overall, she liked what she tried and that some products “will come in handy for those times when I’ve completely forgotten about getting dinner ready.”
Here, you can find a store that sells Gardein Chick’n products near you along with the prices they’re listed for in each store.
Introduced by Worthington Foods in 1975, MorningStar Farms is a frozen food line that uses soy to create meatless meats. They began creating products ranging from chick’n nuggets and veggie burgers, but over time, they have come up with new and exciting products like hotdogs, bacon strips, burgers, and more.
In 2018, MorningStar Farms announced the launch of three Chik’n products that were going vegan: MorningStar Buffalo Wings, Chik’n Nuggets, BBQ Chik’n Nuggets, and Buffalo Chik Patties.
Last year, Forbes reported that MorningStar Farms “is phasing in new vegan versions of its products and, by 2021, all 49 of its retail products and the 26 items it sells into foodservice channels will be vegan.” The company does offer other vegan meatless products, including Meal Starters Chik’n Strips, Steak Strips, and Pulled Pork.
MorningStar Farm’s Chik’n products can be found online or your local grocery store.
Photo: No Evil Foods
No Evil Foods
No Evil Foods was created by Mike Woliansky and Sadrah Schadel in 2014 with a mission to “put more good into the world.” At first, they started off selling plant-based products out of a cooler at the Asheville farmer’s markets. Now, they can be found in health food stores and supermarkets around you.
No Evil Foods offers five plant-based meats: chicken, Italian sausage, chorizo, pulled pork, and turkey. Their plant-based chicken, AKA Comadre Cluck, can be used for stir-fries, pot pies, chicken salads, pot roasts, sandwiches, and more. Here, you can find recipes from their website that are sure to satisfy your chicken craving.
Ari Soloman from Choose Veg says that the “chicken is really unlike anything else on the market right now. While most veggie chicken products mimic either a chicken breast or chicken fingers, this chicken is shredded.” She also says that “This vegan meat is definitely a blank slate—it’s very lightly spiced out of the box so you can do whatever you want with it. I’d recommend using it in pasta, tacos, sandwiches, and more.”
Here, you can look for health food stores and supermarkets that sell No Evil Foods products near you as well as find online retailers that ship their products.
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Skyler Isabella Gomez is a 2019 SUNY New Paltz graduate with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Black Studies. Her passions include learning about the ethical and environmental benefits of veganism to create a better world for generations to come.