Vegetarian meatloaf is a food dish that is based on the traditional American dish meatloaf. As the name would suggest, vegetarian meatloaf differs from its source of inspiration by utilizing ingredients that do not include meat in them. This may seem difficult due to the fact that meatloaf if in fact meat based, but modern culinary revolutions and techniques have made possible the creation of meat substitutes that are similar in taste and consistency to genuine meat.
The flavor of meat is subject to replication because much of the flavor lies in seasoning and not strictly the meat itself. If a food product such as tofu, which tends to absorb surrounding flavors, is used as a meat substitute, a surprisingly accurate meat taste will ensue. Tofu, universally speaking, is the most common meat substitute found in vegetarian dishes. This gelatinous food is brought to fruition through a process involving the coagulation of soy milk.
Tofu is preferred over meat in many situations due to religious, dietary, or cultural implications that may prevent its consumption. Others simply prefer this alternative to meat because of its flavor. Tofu as a meat substitute, such as in vegetarian meatloaf, may be a very healthy alternative as it contains less calories and fats and is generally high in calcium, magnesium, and iron. Tofu is also, however, high in potentially undesirable substances such as the hormone estrogen, and overconsumption may lead to high estrogen levels, which can be concerning to males.
The most common ingredients that one may find in a recipe for vegetarian meatloaf are tofu, lentils, beans, and other varieties of vegetables and spices. Some common spices alongside salt and pepper are garlic, parsley, and basil. These ingredients help to give vegetarian meatloaf a more authentic flavor without the addition of meat. These ingredients are then typically baked in an oven for a specified amount of time and served as a great, healthy alternative to the classic entrée.
Before one delves into the ambitious task of perfectly replicating a meat-based meatloaf, it is suggested by culinary experts to consider the goals for the dish. This means that, rather than trying to make the entrée taste exactly like its carnivorous counterpart, it may be wise to embrace its vegetarian characteristics and focus on producing a more unique flavor specific to vegetables. A good way to do this is to find recipes online that have been rated highly among users or to research a number of recipes and come up with an original take on an American staple.