The term vegan meatloaf may seem to be an oxymoron, but as more people choose to pursue a vegetarian lifestyle, foods that are generally associated with meat products, such as meatloaf, are being adapted to suit a vegetarian diet. A vegan meatloaf uses a variety of non-meat foods to replace ground beef in meatloaf. While those who choose to eat meat may not necessarily choose the vegan version of meatloaf over a traditional meatloaf, there are many vegan meatloaf recipes that receive positive reviews.
Generally speaking, a vegan is an individual who has chosen to eat no meats, such as beef, poultry and seafood; no dairy products and no eggs. Veganism is considered to be the strictest category of vegetarianism, as the goal of many vegans is to consume no products that are derived from animals. Other categories of vegetarianism may include those who will not eat meats, but may consume eggs or dairy products; those who will not eat meats or eggs but will consume dairy products; and those who will not consume dairy products, but will eat eggs. There are also vegetarians who choose to eat certain meats, such as chicken and seafood, while avoiding meats such as beef and pork.
Many vegan meatloaf recipes use a ground beef substitute that is designed to imitate the look, feel and taste of ground beef. Imitation ground beef is often made of soy and wheat ingredients and can be used to make most foods that call for ground beef such as meatballs, burgers and meatloaf. Traditional meatloaf recipes are often easily modified by simply exchanging ground beef with the substitute.
Another common ingredient in vegan meatloaf recipes is tofu. Tofu is derived from soybeans and is an excellent source of protein. Since tofu contains a large amount of water, it is often recommended that the tofu be drained thoroughly and pressed or mashed to eliminate as much of the water as possible. Excess water can prevent the loaf from holding together effectively. It is also often a good idea to use eggs, or an egg substitute, as a binder to keep a tofu loaf from falling apart.
Other common substitutes for ground beef in vegan meatloaf recipes include rice, lentils, beans, nuts, and wheat and oat products. Ingredients such as beans, nuts and lentils provide a measure of heft to vegan meatloaf, while oats, wheat and rice provide filler, similar to the addition of breadcrumbs to traditional meatloaf recipes. Since these ingredients do not have the same properties of ground beef, a helpful tip that many recipes incorporate is the use of a muffin pan, instead of a traditional loaf pan. The smaller size of the muffin sections enable the loaf to cook faster. It also helps to create a crispier texture for the outside of the vegan meatloaf.