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9 Healthy Alternatives to Lunch Meats

Amita Ray
Deli meats are convenient, cheap and full of flavor but how nutritious it may be is a bit of a debate. But now pack your sandwiches with as much nutrition as flavor as this story brings to you healthy lunch meat alternatives!

Useful Tip

It is advisable for pregnant women to consume homemade lunch meat; when consuming store bought deli meats, it should be heated to 165°F in order to avoid listeriosis.
Be it an afternoon lunch or a midnight snack, it is always a good time for a sandwich, don't you think? The glistening salty meat on a crusty bread, along with some cheese and tangy tomatoes is an ode to your hungry soul. We truly believe a world without the oh-so-comforting deli meats is not worth living in!
However, these days with a large number of scientific studies professing against it, it is getting difficult to continue loving our beloved meats. Lunch meats contain certain preservative like sodium nitrate; this preservative is shown to increase the risk of developing colon cancer (yikes!).
A serving of lunch meat (like bologna or salami) can contain up to four hundred milligrams of sodium and may increase the chances of developing high blood pressure. Who can forget the listeria scare of 2013, when 22,000 pounds of deli meat was recalled as it was feared to be contaminated with the bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes.

Healthy Lunch Meat Alternatives

We know a sandwich without all that meaty goodness is truly incomplete. So, we bring to you some alternatives to lunch meat just so your world is complete once again.

It is always better to opt for whole cut meats as they are made by first cooking the meat and then cutting out thin slices. It is healthier than other processed meats as it contains relatively less fillers and fewer preservatives.

Chicken Breast

Either roasted or poached, laced with spices and seasoned to perfection, it just can't get any better than this.
You can make it at home and refrigerate it, or you can choose from the wide range available. There are many fat-free versions available that contain almost nil saturated fatty acids and are low in cholesterol. Add it to your salads or to you sandwiches, eating a bit is going to be good enough for both your waist and palette.

Turkey Breast

We are staunch believers in not reserving the turkey for the holidays. If it is full of goodness for your tongue and body, why not have it every day?
A great turkey roast is good with almost everything. The low salt, prepackaged deli meat is a good source of protein with fewer calories; it has almost nil saturated fats and a much lower cholesterol content.

Low Fat Ham

The name says it all! This slow cooked pork is loaded with smokiness and packed with flavor.
Wait, don't let that frighten you away; this meat is 97% fat free and has 25% less sodium, with fewer calories. We feel that this heart healthy ham is like a fairytale come true. So pile it up on that sandwich and munch on.

Tuna Fish

Add a little taste of the ocean to your salads and sandwiches, or make a casserole out it.
Use it in place of beef or chicken, the trusty tuna never disappoints. High in proteins and omega 3 fatty acids is full of hearty goodness. It is rich in selenium and vitamin B complex. Wanna hear something even better? It has 0% saturated fatty acids. However, limit yourself to this treat up to only thrice a week as it may contain little amounts of mercury.

Substitutes for Bacon

Canadian Bacon

Canadian bacon is a traditional British cut un-smoked bacon. Unlike American bacon, it is made of pork loin.
It is a much leaner version of its American cousin. It is soft and juicy when cooked, and is slightly sweet. It has much lower fat and cholesterol content. The saturated fatty acid in this bacon is almost nil. So, go on take a shamelessly big bite of it, and bid your blues goodbye!

Turkey Bacon

You can't go wrong with anything named bacon! Crisp it up and add it to your sandwich, burger, or have it along with sunny side up eggs; this taste trip is going to be guilt-free!
This has 65% less fat than pork bacon and has a higher protein content. The low sodium versions of this contains 40% less sodium.

Vegetarian Alternatives

If you're trying to switch to a vegan lifestyle, here are some options that may help you!


This is usually made by fermenting soybeans in a mold. It has a firm texture and slightly nutty and umami flavor.
Although, this is traditionally from Indonesia, its popularity in the western world is growing. It has no cholesterol and a very low saturated fat content. It has good amounts of proteins and vitamin B complex. It can be crisped up and served with a dip, or just add it to salads or sandwiches, whatever your heart fancies. You're going to love it!


Of all the vegetarian meat substitutes available, tofu must be the most well-known. It is made by fermenting soy milk.
It has a high protein content and no cholesterol. However, tempeh contains much higher dietary fiber. Be it the robust flavor of fried stinky tofu or the delicate satiny silken tofu in soups; you just can't ignore it.
A popular vegetarian version of beef jerky, tofu jerky is available in the markets. It is used in making vegetarian burger patties or added in sandwiches.


We have saved the best vegan deli meat substitute for the last. It is made with gluten and a lot of varieties of this wheat meat are available in the market.
Its texture resemble meat the most and has a much higher protein content than its other vegan counterparts. It can be stuffed in sausage casings, smoked, or grilled. It has no cholesterol and almost nil saturated fatty acids.
Try these lunch meat substitutes, and we promise that you're never gonna eat the unhealthy deli meats again.