Vegetarian sausage is a food item that imitates the appearance, taste, and texture of traditional sausage without using any meat. It is common for makers of vegetarian sausages to replace the meat with cooked grains, legumes, tofu, or textured vegetable protein to mimic the texture of meat sausages. Several brands sell frozen vegetable sausage links or patties, and they can be made from scratch at home as well. Whether store bough or homemade, vegetarian sausages are generally leaner and lower in fat than traditional meat-based sausages.
People choose not to eat meat, or not to eat as much meat as usual, for a variety of reasons. Regardless of why individuals choose to limit their meat intake, it is fairly common to look for ways to replace the meat products they may once have consumed. A vegetarian sausage will probably not taste exactly like a traditional meat sausage, but for some people the substitution is sufficient.
Since there are very few ingredients in meat sausages besides meat and spices, a vegetarian sausage must replace the bulk of the product with an alternative food. Several ingredients can be substituted for meat, including cooked grains such as barley or bulgur, legumes such as lentils or beans, tofu, or textured vegetable protein, which is a meat replacement product made from soy flour. These products can be cooked with the same spices and flavorings used in traditional meat sausages as a means of imparting similar flavors without using animal products. Some pre-made brands or recipes eliminate meat but still use animal products such as eggs; this type of product may be suitable for vegetarians but likely will not fit the dietary restrictions of strict vegans.
Several different varieties of vegetarian sausage can be found frozen in grocery or health food stores. Different brands may use different ingredients or have different textures, so finding one that suits an individual palette may take some experimentation. Usually, vegetarian sausages are available in both links and patties and can be served any way a traditional meat sausage can be served. Recipes for homemade vegetarian sausage are also widely available for people who do not wish to partake in frozen options.
Choosing a vegetarian sausage over a meat sausage has a few distinct benefits, such as fewer calories and less fat and cholesterol per serving. People who are trying to eat more fiber can choose a version made with grains or legumes, and those who need more protein in their diets can choose vegetarian sausages made with beans or tofu. It is likely, however, that even if an individual finds vegetarian sausage enjoyable to eat, the product will not taste precisely like meat.