The 49 Best Vegan Chicken Brands and Recipes
Whether store-bought or recipe, vegan chicken options abound.
Staff Writer | Bristol, United Kingdom | Contactable via: liam@livekindly.com

Liam writes about environmental and social sustainability, and the protection of animals. He has a BA Hons in English Literature and Film and also writes for Sustainable Business Magazine. Liam is interested in intersectional politics and DIY music.

Vegan chicken is an increasingly popular protein choice. Many consumers are moving away from animal products and toward plant-based alternatives. People are ditching animal products to mitigate the effects of climate change, improve their health, and to save the lives of millions of animals.

Poultry is the second most widely consumed meat in the world, and chicken is the most common type of poultry. According to a paper written by Carys Bennett at the University of Leicester, the total number of farmed chickens now exceeds that of all other birds on the planet.

Many consumers view chicken as a preferable alternative to red meat due to its relatively reduced carbon footprint and nutritional benefits.

The number of vegans and vegetarians around the world is growing. And the rising number of flexitarians and curious meat-eaters are creating a mainstream demand for vegan products. According to recent Nielsen data, around 98 percent of those who buy meat-alternatives frequently also regularly purchase animal products and meat.

So what’s wrong with eating “real” chicken?

Chickens suffer in both the meat and egg industries.

What’s Wrong With “Real” Chicken?

Approximately 2.5 million broiler chickens are slaughtered for meat every day in the UK. According to the British animal-rights organization Viva! — that’s approximately 30 deaths every second. Broiler chickens are bred to grow more quickly than they would naturally, and to a much larger size.

According to Compassion in World Farming, intensively farmed chickens are often slaughtered younger than six weeks old. Free-range animals are usually slaughtered at eight weeks while organic broilers are often killed at 12 weeks. In natural conditions, chickens can live for six or more years.

Chickens are naturally social animals and can communicate with each other using complex and subtle vocalizations. The birds can distinguish between more than 100 faces of other members of their species. According to international animal-rights organization, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), this makes a chicken’s memories similar to that of an elephant’s.

Globally, around 70 percent of broiler chickens are raised using intensive industrial farming techniques. This means that more than two-thirds of the world’s broiler chickens experience overcrowding, dirty surroundings, and extremely rapid growth. Ammonia produced by droppings can burn the birds’ eyes, legs, and respiratory system. Many chickens also experience stress, injury, and sometimes death during transport.

Chicken farming does produce much less CO2 than beef and pork. However, because chicken farming concentrates such large numbers of animals in confined areas, there is an extreme impact on the local environment. Droppings, sick birds, disease, and feed additives all impact the surrounding area.

There is also the human cost of chicken production. Websites such as “Chickieleaks” document the impact of chicken farming on workers. Chickieleaks points out that some of the largest companies in the chicken industry have violated environmental, human safety, and advertising laws.

The U.S. Now Has a 100% Vegan Fried Chicken Shop
Seitan is a popular alternative to animal-based chicken ¦ Eat Love

What Is Vegan Chicken?

As plant-based alternatives become more popular, there are more products such as vegan chicken on the market. Any plant-based food replacing traditional chicken can be referred to as “vegan chicken.”

Seitan is particularly popular for its particularly meat-like qualities. Seitan is primarily made using vital wheat gluten. It can be prepared and seasoned to emulate animal-based chicken. It is often used for fried-chicken recipes and in fast-food.

Many different companies now produce soy, wheat, mycoprotein, or blended meat substitutes. These substitutes vary widely in flavor, texture, appearance, and application, ranging from chicken nuggets to hyper-realistic “roasted” chicken pieces.

However, vegan chicken isn’t necessarily a close approximation of the animal product. Many recipes use tofu or plant-based whole foods like mushrooms as a replacement for chicken.

Mushrooms are often used for this purpose when making pies, pasties, stews, soups, or even fried chicken. Other popular chicken substitutes include jackfruit, cauliflower, tempeh, eggplant, or even beans.

Looking for the best vegan fried chicken sandwiches? Check out this guide to all the veggie options that rival Popeyes and KFC.

Vegan Dinner Recipes to Make Tonight
But what does vegan chicken taste like?

What Does Vegan Chicken Taste Like?

Vegan chicken can be extremely diverse and there is a version of it to suit any taste or preference. Since chicken has a relatively mild, savory flavor, it can be simple to emulate with plant-based foods.

For consumers who want a meat alternative that is as close to animal products as possible, many companies are producing products that replicate animal-based chicken in this way. Products often use a combination of high-protein wheat gluten and soya to create a meat-like texture.

Recipes may suggest different ways of preparing ingredients to achieve a chicken-like texture and flavor. Tofu, for example, has an extremely neutral, natural flavor. One way of making it replicate chicken more closely is by buying a firm brand and pressing it well, to make it chewy and “meaty.”

Another easy way to replicate an animal product is by seasoning it as you would the meat, rather than trying to imitate the natural flavor itself. For example, using a classic Jamaican spice mix to make jerk tofu, or using sage, thyme, and tarragon when making a roast dinner.

This method works particularly well with vegan chicken, both because of its mild flavor and the prominent use of seasoning in many traditional preparations.

vegan fried chicken
The main ingredient in seitan is vital wheat gluten.

Vegan Chicken Ingredients

Vegan chicken is varied and can use several different combinations of ingredients. A typical seitan chicken recipe will contain vital wheat gluten, stock, and seasoning.

Some people choose to blend tofu, chickpea flour, or even sweet potato with their wheat gluten to adjust the texture of the final product. The seitan becomes increasingly chewy the longer the dough is kneaded.

Mixing in another ingredient can soften the texture, and tofu is a good choice when making chicken. Typical seasonings may be vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and dried garlic powder.

Tofu and whole vegetable-based chicken substitutes are simple in that they usually contain just the primary ingredient along with whatever you use for seasoning. Salt, pepper, garlic or onion powder, and fresh herbs are again all popular choices for flavoring mushrooms or tofu. Yeast extract and nutritional yeast are both also commonly included.

Shop bought vegan chicken will often contain similar ingredients to those suggested in recipes. Seasoning, herbs, and spices are all important for flavoring plant-based meats. Shop-bought products often blend of soya and wheat-gluten to maximize protein and create a product that is very close to animal-based meat.

Vegan Chicken Brands

There are now so many different companies producing vegan chicken that most consumers will be able to find one to suit their preferences. Vegan meat is the most popular plant-based product, according to The Good Food Institute (GFI) and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA).

1. Beyond Meat

Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat produces hyper-realistic plant-based Grilled Chicken Strips primarily made with soy and pea protein. The strips are flavored with ingredients such as salt, hickory smoke, molasses, onion, paprika, and garlic.

Vegan Chicken Guide

2. Fry Family Foods

Two of Fry’s most popular products — the Schnitzels and nuggets — are alternatives to chicken. The family-owned business specializes in high-protein and “realistic” meat substitutes for flexitarians and anyone trying to reduce their meat consumption.

3. Quorn

British company Quorn has been producing vegetarian products from fermented, mushroom-like fungus called mycoprotein. While original products used egg as a binder, many modern Quorn products use vegan-friendly potato.

4. Gardein

Gardein is one of North America’s most popular vegan-meat brands. Sales have quadrupled over the last four years and it is the second-largest meat-free brand behind MorningStar Farms. Gardein sells chick’n scallopini, sliders, tenders, teriyaki strips, and wings.

 

Vegan Chicken Guide

5. Vivera

Vivera Foodgroup was one of the first companies in the world to entirely remove meat from its lineup. The group now only owns meat-free companies, including Vivera, Culifrost, and Dutch Tofu Company. Vivera’s extremely meat-like chicken pieces contain 19g of protein per 100g serving.

6. MorningStar Farms

In 2018 MorningStar Farms updated three of its best-selling vegetarian chicken products to a vegan recipe. The Kellogs-owned company’s Buffalo Wings, Chik’n Nuggets, and Buffalo Chik Patties are all 100 percent plant-based.

Vegan Chicken Guide

7. Alpha Foods

Alpha Foods specializes in pre-prepared, plant-based products that are GMO-free. Popular items include meaty pot pies, a chik’n burger, grilled chik’n strips, original chik’n nuggets.

¦ @thehappyveganbelly

8. May Wah

May Wah is a New York City-based vegan alternative market and distributor. The company sells a “Chik’n Craze Sampler” complete with all best-selling chicken items. It includes nuggets, shredded chicken, roasted salted chicken, steak, lemon chicken, sugar cane legs, and even a whole white chicken.

Vegan Chicken Guide

9. Oumph!

Swedish company Oumph! has been making hyper-realistic vegan meat since 2014. Oumph! produces several chicken products, including The Chunk, Pulled Oumph!, and a spiced chicken-style kebab mix.

Vegan Chicken Guide

10. Sweet Earth

Nestlé owned Sweet Earth produces a variety of plant-based proteins in the U.S. In the EU, similar products are made by Nestlé subsidiary Garden Gourmet. Both companies sell vegan alternatives to poultry, with Mindful Chik’n strips by Sweet Earth and Fillet Pieces by Garden Gourmet.

Vegan Chicken Guide

11. Rebellyous Foods

Rebellyous Foods specialize in plant-based chicken alternatives. “No harm, no fowl,” reads the official website. The company produces nuggets, patties, and strips that cook just like traditional breaded chicken products. Rebellyous chicken contains 20-30 percent more protein than conventional nuggets.

Vegan Chicken Guide

12. Sunfed

New Zealand-based Sunfed produces “clean lean plant-protein.” The company makes vegan chicken and other meats out of yellow pea protein, fiber, rice bran oil, and pumpkin. According to the brand, the vegan version tastes “just like animal meat” and is “better than the real thing.”

Vegan Chicken Guide

13. Linda McCartney

British brand Linda McCartney Foods has been producing vegetarian products for nearly 30 years. Plant-based chicken products include Southern Style Chicken chunks and pulled chicken.

Vegan Chicken Guide

14. Lightlife

According to the company, Lightlife “has been the plant-based protein pioneer” for over 40 years. Lightlife’s plant-based tenders are popular with consumers and the company now provides fried chicken to KFC Canada.

Vegan Chicken Guide

15. No Evil Foods

According to No Evil, “Comrade Cluck” vegan chicken is perfect for stir fry, curry, pot pie, chicken salad, slathered in buffalo sauce, slow-cooked pot roast, stick-to-your-ribs chicken & dumplings, and deli sandwiches.

Vegan Chicken Guide

16. Naturli’

Naturli’ “Chick-Free” vegan chicken is a 1:1 alternative to poultry made from peas. According to the brand it is high protein, high fiber, and contains both B Complex and vitamin C.

Vegan Chicken Guide

17. Nuggs

“Don’t be chicken,” says Nuggs on its official website. The company produces 100 percent plant-based nuggets that are “more advanced” than animal-based versions.

Vegan Chicken Guide

18. Dr. Praeger’s Chick’n Tenders

These chicken tenders are produced from “pea protein and veggies.” Dr. Praeger produces chicken using avocado oil and non-GMO verified ingredients and each piece contains 14g plant-protein.

vegan chicken guide

19. This!

This! produce hyper-realistic plant-based meat products including vegan chicken. One serving of 100g contains 36 percent of your RDA of protein and 20 percent of your iron and B12.

Vegan Chicken Guide

20. Boca

Boca’s “Spicy Chik’n Veggie Patties” are 100 percent vegan and high protein. Boca uses non-GMO soy to make its chicken burgers. According to the brand, they are “packed with 12g of protein and 130 calories.

Vegan Chicken Guide

21. Wholesome Provisions

“Just Like Chicken” is made with just one ingredient. Wholesome Provisions makes this plant-based chicken alternative from textured vegetable protein.

Vegan Chicken Guide

22. Vegetarian Plus

Vegetarian Plus is a line of vegetarian and vegan ready meals. The brand produces several vegan chicken-based options including drumsticks, tikka masala, ginger chicken, and even a vegan half chicken.

¦ @vegangr

23. Earth Grown

Vegetarian brand Earth Grown has released chickenless tenders, patties, and strips. The line of products is available from Aldi stores in the U.S. and also includes veggie, bean, kale, and quinoa burgers.

Vegan Chicken Guide

24. Earth’s Best

These meatless Chik’n nuggets are non-GMO and Organic. They are also high in protein and a good source of iron and B vitamins. Earth’s Best includes them in its range of foods for growing children.

Vegan Chicken Guide

25. Field Roast

Field Roast produces vegan “Fruffalo Wings” made out of its trademark sausage products. The plant-based producer also sells a “Celebration Roast” that is similar in appearance and seasoning to a poultry-based roast.

Vegan Chicken Guide

26. Improved Nature

Self-proclaimed plant-forward brand Improved Nature produces several vegan chicken products. Nuggets, tenders, filets, and large filets are available from select ShopRite Supermarkets in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

Vegan Chicken Guide

27. Unreal Co.

Unreal Co Australia produces plant-based chicken for distributors including Woolworths. The line includes burger patties, pieces, schnitzel, and nuggets. The company also sells “Meaty-Mix,” a versatile powdered protein. Meaty Mix can be mixed with water and other ingredients to create vegan meat.

Vegan Chicken Guide

28. Foods for Tomorrow

Spanish start-up company Foods for Tomorrow produces vegan chicken as part of its Heura line. The company sells original, spiced, and Mediterranean flavor chunks, as well as spiced tacos and original strips.

Vegan Chicken

29. Rügenwalder Mühle

German company Rügenwalder Mühle produces both plant-based and animal-based meat products. Chicken-style vegan items include filets, schnitzels, strips, and nuggets.

Vegan Chicken Guide

30. Squeaky Bean

According to Squeaky Bean, all of the company’s products are 100 percent “dirty vegan.” The brand makes a popular satay kiev and chicken nuggets.

Unilever Acquires Vegan-Friendly Brand 'The Vegetarian Butcher' to Make a ‘Positive Social Impact’

31. Vegetarian Butcher

The Vegetarian Butcher is a Nederlands-based, Unilever-owned producer of plant-based meat. The company sells chilled chicken pieces, burgers, and shawarma, as well as frozen pieces, nuggets, and burgers.Vegan Chicken Guide

32. Ocado

Several supermarkets produce own-brand and private label vegan chicken. British online supermarket Ocado sells vegan chicken-style pieces, nuggets, and escalopes.

Vegan Chicken Guide

33. Asda

In the UK, Asda sells vegan KFC-style popcorn chicken. The crispy-coated chicken is a good source of protein and available from the frozen section. The supermarket also stocks private-label, plant-based chicken pieces.Vegan Chicken Guide

34. Morrisons

British supermarket Morrisons sells vegan chicken is part of its line of party-food. “Meat-free chicken-style skewers” are made from marinated soy chunks and available in packs of 10.

Vegan Chicken Guide

35. Waitrose

Waitrose sells a variety of branded vegan chicken products as well as its own-brand chicken-style soya pieces. The chunks are marinated in garlic and chili and perfect for stir-frys.

vegan chicken guide
¦ @veganbargs

36. Tesco

Tesco’s meat-free chicken-style pieces are 100 percent vegan. The supermarket also stocks high-protein, plant-based chicken nuggets.

vegan chicken guide
¦ @kind_vibez

37. Co-Op

British brand the Co-Op sells meat-free chicken-style “poppers.” These vegan popcorn-chicken style nuggets are 100 percent vegan and covered in a crispy “Southern fried” coating.

Vegan Chicken Guide

38. Iceland

Iceland recently expanded its line of vegan options to include “No-Chick” chicken-style products. The supermarket sells frozen chicken burger fillets, nuggets, and strips.

Cooking with vegan chicken is just as easy as cooking with animal products.

How to Cook With Vegan Chicken

Cooking with vegan chicken can be extremely simple. Tofu, seitan, and mushroom all require slightly different preparation methods.

Vegan meat alternatives like chicken are particularly helpful for those who want to cut down on their meat consumption without re-learning how to cook. Creating a direct replacement for chicken means that people can swap out meat for plants without altering the way they shop, cook, or enjoy food.

The easiest way of cooking with vegan chicken is to buy something ready-to-eat, such as Quorn or Tofurky’s refrigerated products. These are a versatile 1:1 replacement for cooked chicken. Cooking tofu is a learned skill, but with some practice can also be extremely easy to use.

Vegan Chicken Recipes

From seitan to mushrooms, here are some of our favorite vegan chicken recipes. Each one comes with detailed and straightforward instructions, perfect for new flexitarians or seasoned vegans alike.

1. Oyster Mushroom Chicken and Waffles

This cruelty-free recipe for double-breaded oyster mushrooms and fluffy waffles looks just like a traditional dish. The mushrooms make this recipe for vegan chicken extra juicy.

Check it out here.

2. Vegan Parmigiana with Seitan Cutlets

The author of this recipe says that the chick’n in this dish doesn’t have a strong “mock meat flavour or texture,” perhaps due to the inclusion of cannellini beans in the seitan mix.

Check it out here.

Vegan ‘Naked’ Taco Bell Chicken-Style Seitan Chalupa Wrap Recipe

3. Seitan Chicken Chalupa Wrap

This seitan recipe uses chickpea flour along with vital wheat gluten. It also uses the versatile flavors of Worcestershire sauce, nutritional yeast, onion, and garlic powder.

Check it out here.

4. Tofu Chicken Kiev

This recipe for chicken kiev uses well-pressed tofu. “The creamy garlic butter is absorbed all the way through the tofu,” says the author. “And the bread crumb topping adds a tasty crunch.”

Check it out here.

5. Cauliflower Chik’n and Waffles with Sriracha

This recipe calls for a whole food, cauliflower replacement for traditional poultry. It is succulent, buttery, and served with Sriracha maple syrup for extra flavor.

Check it out here.

Vegan Chicken Guide
¦ Loving It Vegan

6. Vegan Chicken

This seitan chicken recipe uses wheat-gluten, chickpeas, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and onion powder. The “perfect chewy seitan texture” is achieved by mixing the chickpeas in with the seitan.

Check it out here.

vegan chicken guide
¦ Full of Plants

7. Realistic Vegan Chicken

This tender and fibrous vegan chicken is made using a combination of seitan, tofu, and green jackfruit. The tofu and jackfruit add tenderness and “realistic” texture closer to that of traditional chicken.

Check it out here.

Veganosity
¦ Veganosity

8. Plant-Based Chicken Breast

For this recipe, the author uses silken tofu to create a chicken-like texture. Boullion’s No Chicken stock is a central component of this recipe thanks to its unique flavor.

Check it out here.

9. Portabello Kiev

This kiev is actually a portabello mushroom. Assemble it hours before cooking and serve with garlic and cashew bechamel.

Check it out here.

10. Chik’n Caesar Salad

This caesar salad skips eggs, dairy, and traditional chicken. Instead, the recipe uses well-pressed and shallow fried tofu with raw cashew-based parm.

Check it out here.

11. Tofu Makhani

This tofu makhani is comparable to chicken tikka masala and is perfect for anyone missing the British-Indian fusion curry. This creamy dish makes use of vegan alternatives such as non-dairy cream and butter.

Check it out here.

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The 49 Best Vegan Chicken Brands and Recipes
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The 49 Best Vegan Chicken Brands and Recipes
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This vegan chicken guide explains what plant-based chicken is, what it can taste like, and how to cook it. It also explores issues with "real" chicken.
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LIVEKINDLY
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