I used to love meat when I was a meat-eater, and I'm a fairly picky eater that dislikes many vegetable options. (Green peppers are nasty and food-destroying in my opinion, which immediately removes over half the vegetarian options out there, just as an example), so I consider myself a decent bellweather for people who like the tastes of meat but want to actually eat less of it for various reasons.
The options that already exist today are quite varied. Boca, Morningstar, Beyond Meat, and Quorn are all big names that offer meat alternatives that taste VERY different from each other. Most of my meat eating friends won't even try any of these, sight unseen. (When they see them, they tend to have even more reluctance). So, while I think it's absolutely worthwhile to make alternatives that seem more "real", there is still a stigma to overcome just by virtue of being fake. And in america, at least, where meat-eating is tied to masculinity and bacon is worshipped, that's a tough stigma to shake.
Decent imitations of highly processed meat exist already - I've had chicken nuggets that meat eaters had no idea were fake, and I fed my in-laws a "turkey loaf" dinner for Thanksgiving for years without them realizing - but matching the taste of "quality" meats hasn't yet happened.
Short anecdote: There's a donut shop in my town that sold vegan and regular donuts in adjacent but separate displays. In some instances, the donuts on the regular side were also vegan, identical in every way save for the label. They found that they sold far better without the word "vegan" attached to them, and eventually stopped labelling them altogether, providing a side-menu to help vegans identify which are which.
Point being, perception is surprisingly important when it comes to taste.
> And in america, at least, where meat-eating is tied to masculinity and bacon is worshipped, that's a tough stigma to shake.
I'd argue that it really doesn't matter how similar to meat these products get, if they're still seen as "fake". Even if delicious, people tend to gravitate towards "real". But hey, maybe they've found a market that wants this that I'm just not seeing.
1. A product that has been changed to not use any animal products.
2. A product that already fits within those constraints.
Products in the former group have a history of being noticeably worse than their non-vegan counterpart, so "vegan" carries the stigma of "tastes worse than it looks". That stigma then wafts over to products in the second category.
Other categories of products are more careful to use distinct terms. That's why you see things labelled "naturally fat-free" instead of just "fat-free", for example.
(I know you were just trying to give people a simplified model.)
Naturally free of animal products?
It is purely marketing.
Are you sure marketing didn't just want to include another buzz word to attract sales? 90% of the food that got labeled fat-free 10 years ago (Before fat was good again...) was always fat free.
It may be that all the processing involved in making the plant compounds look/smell/taste/feel like meat are harmless, even beneficial, but it's perfectly reasonable to withhold trust for some time - especially to those of us who grew up with "Margarine is so much healthier than butter!"
Its all chemical engineered now, unless you can afford to buy a piece of land and DIY.
-Avid Meat Eater.
Most Beef in the world is grass fed, and not pumped full of antibiotics. Generally animals are more or less left in a field until they're old enough, then taken in a slaughtered.
Most quality beef sold in UK is governed by the Red Tractor food standards and welfare scheme.
I personally eat a low-meat diet (no more than 3 servings of meat a week), but don't generally feel the need to eat any kind of meat-substitutes; there are plenty of delicious, already vegetarian or already vegan foods. It does help eating only vegetarian and not fully vegan; cheese and eggs are good sources of both flavor and protein, and make a good "center" of a dish or "main course" of a meal that is sometimes hard to do with purely vegan food without substitutes, but I've also had plenty of delicious fully vegan meals without meat substitutes.
And even when getting closer to meat base dishes, I'm personally more likely to order a "black bean burger" or "chickpea burger" than a generic "veggie burger"; it helps to know what I'm getting, while a lot of the meat substitutes are complicated and processed. And for those processed items that do more often act as a stand in for meat, I generally prefer the more minimally processed ones like seitan, tempeh, or tofu, rather than a "tofu burger" that has a whole bunch of other things in it to make it more similar to a hamburger.
I use to crave carbs, and would wind up binging on them. Now most of them do not even register as 'food' to my brain. However, on days when I eat maybe a few too many berries instead of sticking to green veggies, I can feel those cravings trying to come back. We're talking an amount that maybe pushes my daily net carb intake to the 50-60g range instead of the 20-30g range, not something that would push me over 100g. A ketogenic diet is definitely best for my health. I would rather eat a ketogenic diet than suffer the eventual consequences of diabetes - blindness, amputation, dialysis, and death.
All of which would be true on a low carb diet without ketosis. Which you may very well have been doing since you don't know if you were in ketosis or not.
> A ketogenic diet is definitely best for my health
Your completely unsupported anecdote of a single person claiming so does not counter the overwhelming scientific evidence consisting of actual studies, with multiple participants, proper measures, and control groups.
When I start eating more than 50g net carbs a day, suddenly I want to shove all the pizza in the world in my mouth. Given that pizza will absolutely kill me, a diabetic, via kidney damage, a "very low carb, high fat" diet (which is much easier to explain/abbreviate as "ketogenic") diet is best for me, personally.
I know it's an anecdote, and it certainly doesn't mean a VLCHF diet is right for anyone else, but it's working for me.
Well I will take my anecdotic evidence (and my girlfriend's, and two friends') over your scientific studies. Fat and protein make me feel full well below my caloric needs for maintaining the same weight; I am hardly ever full with carbs, and even when my stomach feel fulls, my brain keeps wanting me to eat.
More than one should.
Sure, I can too. And I will stay hungry or get into depression again because I wouldn't be getting enough fat.
For some people, it's the only thing that loses some them weight. (Obesity is a disease?)
I am currently giving it a try to see whether it has any benefits for my concentration. (Inattentiveness is a disease?)
Plants are fun. I still eat lots of non-starchy ones.
(I am very sympathetic to low-carb eating, and am trying a ketogenic diet right now.)
GMO or not, even the wikipage of carrageenan (e407) says:
"Some animal studies indicate tumor promotion or initiation by carrageenan. In an industry-funded study, Cohen & Ito discuss methodological problems with four such studies, along with several evaluations of genotoxic activity, and state that there is no credible evidence that carrageenan contributes to tumor promotion or colon cancer."
Which might be FUD but better safe than sorry.
"The industrial food chain does produce food more cheaply, in terms of the price you pay at McDonald’s or the supermarket,” replies Pollan, “but the real cost of cheap food is not reflected in those prices. You’re paying for it in your tax dollars because you’re giving farmers $20 billion a year in subsidies. You’re paying for it in public health costs. These subsidies make unhealthy food cheaper than healthy food, and so our country is facing an obesity epidemic."
Obviously it doesn't fix it for China though, which is where a lot of the drug-resistant bugs are coming from...
[Aside: Actually, it's kind of interesting to consider that meat alternatives top out at a relatively low price point, whereas meat, fish, etc can get really expensive.]
Just like in the meat market, there are cheaper and more expensive meat alternatives. Compare tofu at ~$2/lb vs Field Roast at ~$6/lb, where Field Roast is more toward the gourmet end of the non-meat spectrum.
I would think that if you're not a meat eater, tofu is your ground beef equivalent. Or maybe beans, lentils, quinoa, etc, which are also pretty cheap.
Also, home made seitan is super cheap and much easier to produce than home made meat.
You can pay a lot for plant-based food, but that's much more of a niche interest.
(After only half a minute of Googling: http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2015/06/11/lard-vs-bacon-pigs/ )
personally I'm in a different camp. I've been vegan for a while now. I pretty much never buy fake meat or fake cheese. I don't really understand it. I just eat food I make from the bulk section of the grocery store. I don't see a need to have a "boody plant burger that smells like meat" or a boca burger, that just tastes like a...boca burger. honestly I rather just have a patty made out of blackbeans and lentils that doesn't taste anything like meat. seems way simpler to me.
I like vegetarianism in concept, and would like to eat less meat, but I like meat, A LOT. If alternatives were more meatlike (fingers crossed for indistinguishable) I'd gladly eat that regardless of label. Some reservations about macro contents.
I understand where you're coming from, but some people don't want to change a habit, but are fine with substitutes.
Werent those shown to be flawed? My source is Gladwells books, but the pepsi vs coke taste test favoured pepsi because it was sweeter. But in drinking the full can people found pepsi overwhelmingly sweet and coke was more popular. My guess would be a similar thing would happen. You could optimise to appeal to low-quantity taste tests. but as a full proper meal a lot needs to be done (imo)
I think they're flawed in the sense that they were put on by the company itself.
Much of Western food is only expected to be an accompaniment to a meat dish, which is why you can't just cut meat out and eat the vegetable dishes you're used to when you're eating meat as well, imnsho.
I do agree with the assumption that western vegetarians tend to want meat replacements. The biggest difference for me was seeing how a lot of Indian cuisine is actually unhealthy. Most everything is fried in oil or has so much clarified butter its unhealthy. The Indian diet (at least the people in my office) seems more unhealthy vs the western vegetarian diet and several people in my office have had heart attacks.
but is eating tasty non-meat food that is lot less destructive to the environment.
that cuts to the meat of the argument against non meat( which in the West means fake meat or vegan foods) being non tasty..
(Indians seem to have a crazy sweet tooth, as far as I can tell. I like desserts, but Indian ones are usually way too much for me.)
Which suggest lots of Indian vegetarian food is indeed healthy
The only reasonable complaints re Indian food are high carbs and low amounts of high quality protein
That said, I actually have a fairly limited range there too: if you don't like yogurt, dill, bell peppers, cucumbers, or okra, a lot gets cut out. That's on me an my tastes, not the Indian food, but it's still a reality I have to deal with.
Can you elaborate?
In western countries, there's some ambiguity around eggs, fish, and possibly lard but only as far as vegetarians can't all agree on those either.
In some other cartoon as a wink and a nod to the parents, sure. But definitely not Archer.
(Your expression works better with "England" in place of "Outside the US".)
Pure agar is odorless and tasteless.
Orthodox Hindus who move to the West often struggle with this. Even ice cream (marked as vegetarian) sometimes has gelatin. You can ask for vegan food, which is an approximation, but "no milk" is the antithesis of many Indian diets :)
I know such families who basically never eat out ever, and prepare things from scratch at home. Though they usually are more lax on allowing the kids to eat pseudo-vegetarian food.
For the purposes of definition, I use the below, which appears to be the general consensus definitions in America, though I'm sure some will dispute this.
Vegetarian: (also called ovo-lacto vegetarian) No meat (including fish/seafood). Eggs, dairy, and honey are okay. Byproducts that involved killing animals are not. Those vegetarians that are so for health reasons often skip that last part, and many vegetarians only go "so deep" when looking, so they don't worry if bleached (with animal bone) flour was used, or if the cheese was made with animal-based rennet. Lastly, insects and some low-nervous system mussels occupy a questionable space that isn't often discussed at large, but like the "so deep" issue should likely be considered "not strictly vegetarian but some vegetarians have exceptions".
Vegan: Vegetarian, plus no eggs, dairy, or honey. They tend to look deeper and more strictly than vegetarians, though the general belief that you shouldn't be killing things is shared between those vegetarians and vegans that are so for ethical reasons. (other vegan restrictions aren't food based)
Pescatarian: Vegetarian, but fish and seafood are permitted.
In the American southeast (not a foreign country, but might as well be) pork is as much a "spice" as a food. Many vegetable offerings at restaurants are seasoned with pork. At one cafe in Atlanta I asked if a soup was vegetarian and they said yes...then after a moment said "but it does have chicken stock", because in their mind anything that wasn't "chunks of meat" was vegetarian. (also, since I have the pulpit, as a once lover of ham, what the south does to ham is a crime. It has two varieties: salty, and really salty. I forget which is "country ham" and which is "virginia ham", but both made it easier for me to drop pork from my diet.)
In Chinese food, fish is generally considered vegetarian, and oyster sauce is particularly prevalent. If I request something "vegetarian", they'll avoid using pork-based seasonings, but will include oyster sauce unless I'm very explicit and make a pain of myself.
My Japanese friends tell me there's no point in me trying to eat there. The only option that doesn't involve seafood is "monk training food", which is...not intended to be tasty.
Thai food and Vietnamese food have, I think, some of the same issues. I know curry paste is often made with shrimp, and where an Indian restaurant will pay attention, Thai places often won't. (That said, I love Thai, so when I find a place where I trust the staff "gets it", they get a lot of business)
I wasn't vegetarian when I was in Europe, so I don't know how easy it is to be vegetarian there, but I know a lot of places that had a strong Catholic influence consider fish to be "non-meat".
In many of these places I could try to be explicit, but that's often painful because there are sometimes language issues, because I don't want to make a pain of myself, and because some places leave me not trusting that the result is actually vegetarian despite my explicitness.
In contrast, Indian restaurants tend to:
1) Share the same definition, so we have no language issues
2) Take the vegetarian/non-vegetarian divide seriously (Many Indians are vegetarian or part-time vegetarian for religious reasons), so my requests are neither a pain nor is there often a worry that I'll get something animal-based anyway.
A friend of mine from India once told me "if a mob would burn down your restaurant if you got caught mixing meat and vegetarian, you'd take it seriously too". I still don't if she was joking with me, and if so to what degree.
Yes, that is (unfortunately) a possible outcome, if not outright murder by an angry mob of people who take their religious and societal taboos too seriously.
I'm vegan an eat Japanese food all of the time. It really just depends on the restaurant. Examples:
- Tempura batter can be vegan if they don't add eggs to it. Some restaurants do, and some don't.
- Sushi rice is basically sugar, salt and rice vinegar seasoning.
- Miso soup is fine as long as you confirm they don't add "bonito" (aka fish flakes).
- Many of the vegetarian rolls are fine.
The only thing that you might worry about is if you are super-strict about cross-contamination. But if that's the case you really can't eat out at most restaurants.
- In Japan, I have never heard of anyone one using eggs in tempura batter. You can be almost 100% sure that it's OK. So vegetable tempura is a good bet. Probably the most safe is cold soba noodles with tempura.
- Vegetable sushi is only really available at those cheap revolving sushi restaurants. However, when dining with vegetarians this is my go to spot. You are unlikely to find vegetarian options at good sushi restaurants.
- You will never find miso soup or any soup (ramen, etc, etc) in Japan without animal products (apart from the rare exception that I will explain below). Ordering off the menu is likely to cause serious heart attacks in the staff. If you are a regular customer, you can get away with it, but you seriously can't expect to walk off the street and ask that the change the food for you. Which is odd because Japanese customer service (with this one exception) is usually insanely accommodating.
- Although it is remarkably better than when I arrived, Japanese people really do not understand vegetarian cooking. If you ask for vegetarian tempura they are likely to give you extra shrimp to make up for the other fish that you didn't get. If you protest that it isn't a vegetable they will look blankly at you and say, "But it's delicious". Having a moral stance on what you eat and don't eat without it being a religious thing just does not compute. They totally get the non-pork issue for those whose religions don't allow it, for example. When I was teaching English, I tried to educate the students about the word "vegetarian" and in the exam I had the question, "John does not eat meat, fish or eggs. He only eats vegetables. What is John?" One of my students answered, "John is a cow" (to which I had to give him full marks, of course ;-) ).
However, this brings me to the only strategy that worked for me consistently in restaurants. It turns out that Japan has it's own traditional vegan cuisine. It is called "shoujin ryouri". It is a Buddhist way of eating (the "monk training food" noted by the GP). It is composed of very traditional Japanese dishes and is wonderful. Although there is much more to shoujin ryouri than just eating vegetables (and they also avoid alliums like garlic and onions for some reason), it is a word that every Japanese restaurant worker will understand completely. The GP's characterisation of shoujin ryouri as "not intended to be tasty" made me laugh because it is true that it is not intended. However, it is invariably mind-bogglingly delicious. I highly recommend going to a temple that serves it and trying it.
Anyway, usually I would say, "I'm very sorry, but I only eat shoujin ryouri. I know it's completely impossible, but I wonder if there is any way you could make something like that." After getting over the shock that a westerner would eat only shoujin ryuori, the response would inevitably be, "That's incredible. I'm impressed. That's a very difficult way to live" and they will either try to make something for you, or tell you that it is indeed impossible.
Apart from rice (which is a given), the basis of most Japanese cooking is dashi (soup stock). Most restaurants (and homes) use powdered soup stock that already has katsuo bushi (the dried fish flakes) added. In shoujin ryouri they use only kombu dashi (stock made from sea kelp), sometimes with dried mushrooms. If a restaurant has kombu available, they can make dashi and then can usually figure out something. All restaurants have vegetables and tofu hanging around somewhere. If they do not have kombu, then they will be completely at a loss and there is nothing they can do.
I was vegan when I came to Japan (although not ethically vegan -- I just like eating that kind of food). I tried to keep eating that way, but it was pretty difficult (and downright impossible when I had to go to work related functions -- I got a reputation as a hard drinker because I would only pick at my food and drink beer all night ;-) ). Pretty quickly, I started eating things with normal dashi and after about 3 or 4 months just ate whatever anyone else ate at restaurants.
It is not impossible to be vegetarian (or even vegan) in Japan, but it is extremely difficult.
This. I had some vegan friends that spent some time in Thailand and there are similar things. You just have to know the "secret code word" for vegan-type food. IIRC, restaurants in Thailand that have a yellow flag outside are marking that they serve food acceptable to a particular religious order of monks (or something of the sort).
That said, I was mostly referring to eating at Japanese restaurants in the West. I realize that eating in such a way in Japan itself is somewhat difficult.
And that's probably not just a thought experiment given the likelihood of eventually going there on business trips.
If you are traveling in southeast asia, and want vegan food, ask for buddhist food. (Alas, that also precludes garlic and onion, but that's a small sacrifice in exchange for having an easy shorthand to explain vegan food.)
I'm fine with eggs, though, so YMMV.
Also, as far as I understand, they don't use a lot of vegetable oil. So things that would be ok in the west, like bread, more than likely have lard in them.
There is of course a great deal of culinary overlap in the Punjab region, food is much older than the 1947 partition. If you ever visit Lahore I highly recommend trying the local restaurants.
In the west, we tend to have a protein of some sort, which is the centerpiece of the dish, with supporting elements of carbs and veges.
With Eastern food, they tend to have a carb, and then a curry or other mix of meat and veges to go with it.
I'm Indian origin. At home, we usually eat vegetarian food (not a religious thing, it just is). I don't miss non vegetarian food at all. But if I go out to eat I usually have non vegetarian food.
Agreed with your assertion. Here in India, vegetarian food is often as good, if not better than meat.
That said, I still adore tandoori chicken. >.>
I've found that substituting meat is an almost impossible task, I certainly haven't found anything that is as satisfying as a good steak. But replacing it with something I find enjoyable in a different way works really well, as long as you have an open mind and accept that it's not going to be an identical experience. (Personally, I prefer the black bean burgers for this reason. I absolutely adore spicy foods, I've been topping burgers with pepper jack and jalapenos since I was 13, having the patty itself with a good texture and a nice kick out of the box is wonderful)
It seems to me like people are confusing eating meat with our modern agricultural processes. And if that's the case then the solution should be to improve said processes, not to stop eating meat.
The thing is - how is the average person going to improve the processes? People can eat less meat and urge the governments in different areas to force better farming practices through regulation, financial support for upgrades, investment in technology (for example, something that composts manure and spreads it better than the liquid manure we keep in vats or somehow breeding cows that produce less methane), and other such things.
Some countries will be able to pull this off. Others... well, will fail. And some of those are either major contributors or consumers.
The "burger" is just a convenient form factor. Each kind is really its own thing, with its own taste and mouthfeel. It needs to be tried and appreciated as such, or disappointment is inevitable.
As an example of your second point, one of the more succesful alternatives in NL is Valess , which mostly comes in the "burger" form factor but does not try to sell itself as imitation meat.
I say this as someone who hasn't eaten meat for well over a decade and a really close meat substitute sounds gross.
I say this as a vegetarian, but I'm having a hard time seeing cost being a real advantage for imitation meat. It seems like more of a first world problem - if one cannot afford meat, they're better off spending resources on replacing its nutritional value rather than its taste.
I am a meat eater and I can tell you that, in my experience, this simply isn't the case. Your opinion is colored by the fact that you really, really, want it to be a decent imitation because you're a vegetarian. Every imitation meat product I have ever tasted has been immediately recognizable as such, and was almost inedible.
Unfortunately, the idea of fake meat that people won't notice is, at least today, a vegetarian fantasy.
I think the larger issue is why do we stubbornly try to make one thing taste like another? I may be a meat-eater but I can fill my heart's content at a number of Indian vegetarian places, to the point where I don't realize I didn't eat meat. The meal as a whole is fully satiating and nourishing.
In the same vein, I love tofu when it tastes like tofu. But when some try to make it ressemble meat, it simply becomes bad tofu. Beans are awesome and can be combined in so many ways. Bean burgers are just over-seasoned patties posing as meat.
Maybe it's my French background showing but I prefer minimal processing, or processing that brings out the natural flavors of the ingredient, not trying to hide them.
because lots of people love meat but dislike the way it is obtained. compare fake cheese and icecream for the lactose intolerant - they love the taste of cheese and icecream, just not its effects on them.
Vegan cheese is completely different from lactose-free cheese, and is one of the worst things I have ever eaten. It does not retain a single attribute that makes normal cheese appealing, but still manages to smell like an old sock.
I've never had coconut ice cream, but I've had soy ice cream on several occasions and I thought it wasn't bad. (Shout-out to Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, a Wisconsin manufacturer who does a great job of accommodating a wide variety of dietary restrictions)
I'm sure your friend finds her brand of fake cheese palatable, but I seriously doubt it bears any resemblance to real cheese. One of my close friends was a vegetarian because she couldn't give up cheese, until the point where her conscience overwhelmed her and she became a total vegan. She's been looking for a vegan cheese for the past seven or eight years, and I've unfortunately shared in the experience. I'm comfortable with the claim that right now, vegan cheese is not a replacement for real cheese.
The problem with vegan cheese is that vegan foods are generally only convincing substitutes in a specific domain. Ice cream works because ice cream is always frozen. Nobody complains if your vegan ice cream doesn't look like ice cream when melted or boiling. On the other hand, the same cheese can be melted, broiled, burnt, shredded, or some combination of the 4 depending on the application. Plus, it has to taste like cheese too.
In some sense, it's a bit like vegan bacon, which generally just tastes a bit smokey, and I've never found any that has the crispy texture that melts in the mouth like real bacon. Fake cheese just has a really ... off texture, and it's flavor is one-dimensional.
Despite the label claiming that, it isn't actually the case. Rather than removing the sugar, which is quite difficult without affecting the milk, they simply add lactase.
In my opinion, it's because vegetarians know that their diet is an extreme departure from the norm, and anything they can do to feel more included in the mainstream, they will do. I have relatives that are vegetarians, and being vegetarian limits their social lives to some degree (I'm sure the impact is partially dependent on where you live; this comment is based on my observations only). For example, they can't eat at certain restaurants, and they tend to not bother trying to host dinners at their homes for people with normal diets (or worse, they do host, and guests don't come back after the first time). One of my vegetarian relatives has children, and it impacts their social lives as well - kids in households with mainstream diets usually aren't big fans of tofu and aren't going to be hanging out in vegetarian households as often.
Everyone wants to feel normal, even when their lifestyle choices are far from it. This, in my opinion, is the driving force behind the quest for "vegemeat".
As a vegetarian, I'm weird. As a picky vegetarian, I'm even weirder. That's fine, I'm used to weird, and I don't expect people to cater to my weirdness.
For me, it's not about specific taste. When I went vegetarian, I lost the taste for red meat. Last time I had it (10+ years now) it was NASTY - I remembered it tasting good, but it doesn't meet (ha!) that memory.
No, it's mostly about texture. I want something that tastes _good_ (for however "good" is defined) and has the right chewiness to my mouth.
It's also about convenience - My wife and I have "meat cookies", which are morningstar "burgers" fixed on a george foreman grill, and after a few minutes of cooling, are able to be picked up and eaten like a cookie. The taste is good, but it could be better. Nothing about this experience is like a normal meat-eater.
I will concede that it'd be really nice to go to a restaurant and have an easy time picking out food from the menu. That's less about being normal and more about being able to eat when hungry.
So no - I don't think my desire for meat alternatives is about a desperate need to feel like I belong. Its about having tasty options that didn't kill animals. For many vegetarians straight vegetables can fulfill that need. Not so for me.
You seem very self-aware, which I view as a rare and positive trait. So here's a question that I am genuinely curious about: in light of the fact that you said you remembered meat tasting good prior to becoming a vegetarian, do you believe that it is unpalatable to you now because it actually tastes bad (i.e. your brain actually no longer likes the taste), or is it the thoughts that you associate with meat (those that drove you to be a vegetarian in the first place - perhaps that a cow was killed for it, or its impact on the environment)?
It was actually very weird - I'd smell it, and remember the good taste, then have some and be quite startled how bad it seemed to me. (and again, other meats did not have that reaction). I have no idea if this is a matter of personal chemistry, a more intricate mental gymnastics than the one you propose, or is actually commonplace. To this day, the smell of KFC original recipe will make me salivate. (I once found an Indian place that had a veggie Pakora that tasted JUST LIKE THAT BATTER. Man I miss that)
For background: I went full vegetarian for 6 months in college, but stopped when I was seeing stars constantly. It's easy to get decent nutrition with a vegetarian diet, particularly as I'm not active, but microwaved rice and beans and mac n'cheese (my college diet) wasn't healthy enough. So I returned meat to my diet and that's when I found I didn't like red meat anymore. I imagine I could've taught myself to like it again, but I was content with the other meat options and had no more health issues. After a few years like this I noticed that a few foods (e.g. lettuce, baby spinach) that were previously on my "ick" list were now palatable, so I started dropping a meat a year, giving my taste and lifestyle time to adjust. After a few years of that, I was fully vegetarian, and my diet has expanded, though I still have a depressingly large "these foods don't taste good to me" list.
Why do I think pork is marginally than beef? I grew up in a rural-ish* area, and have a lower opinion of cows than pigs, in terms of intelligence and awareness. I similarly think a turkey is smarter than chicken, but we are talking literal bird brains at that point.
* rural-ish = a large town surrounded by farmland. State College, PA, for the curious.
It beggars belief that you claim to be related to a vegetarian and you think that kids subsist on tofu, or even that meals are a major part of kids hanging out. Kids eat chips and pizza and pasta, all of which is vegetarian.
I am French, I live in France, and grew up in a large city. I can confirm what he said about kids in some cultures, and it's not limited to the "rural America" the sanfran crowds like to dismiss so much on the internet. I had Indians friends I grew up with as a kid, and they were made to eat meat every time we were going out with the other neighborhood kids because we liked to go to fast foods like Quick (a belgian fast food franchise that's a bit like the European McDo) and there was no decent vegetarian food there, at least when I was a kid, I wouldn't know if they changed their menus because I haven't gone to fast foods for a long time. He had to lie to his parents about not eating hamburgers, they were devout, religious vegetarian hinduists and I have no idea how they'd react if they knew their kids ate beef.
What would have happened if they refused to eat meat with us? They would either have to watch us eat at Quick while growing hungry, or just leave the group altogether.
Seeing our food cultures, I would definitely have hated the very idea of growing in a vegetarian household.
The indian kids could come at our places and order pizza with us, but we never, ever shared a meal at their home.
My parents loved sharing food with our indian neighbors though, despite the fact that my father loved meat, he also enjoyed the food they made and my grandmother often made vegetarian cooking to exchange with them. But that's a whole another story when it comes to kids.
For the same reason that people use birth control instead of abstinence: People like to "have their cake and eat it too." If we can get the part of something we value minus some downside we deem undesirable, we are all over it.
I am a vegetarian, and have been for about 8 years. I agree that the taste isn't a duplicate, but inedible that's a stretcher?
> Unfortunately, the idea of fake meat that people won't notice is, at least today, a vegetarian fantasy.
And I never understood why. I like the taste of vegetables. Needing things that duplicate meat in taste and texture feels unnecessary and almost ... not quite, I can't find the right word ... hypocritical -- as if humans need that flavor?
Still, these imitation components strike me as tacky or cheap knockoffs. Even worse, for me they signal that even vegetarians can't go without the taste (or structure) of meat. I really wonder if their availability is a net positive for reducing meat consumption.
I consider myself quite a meat-eater, but I do enjoy properly thought-out vegetarian dishes (like Thai or Indian vegetable curry's), and I'm a big fan of main dish salads (usually with Feta cheese, walnuts or raisins). Still, when I do need to "replace" meat, I'd much rather go with nuts (mostly cashew, pine and almond) than any of the meat imitations.
Technically, cardboard and shoe leather are edible, if you boil them enough, but you tend not to go out of your way to eat them, unless there's a bunch of people with pointy-murder-sticks outside and you've already gone through all the dogs, cats, rats, and insects.
How about that stick of beef jerky I carry when I go out hiking ... replacing something that artificial with something plant based doesn't sound overly challenging and maybe it would have better shelf life? Or the mystery meat in canned store bought soups?
People don't buy 6 million units per day when something is "almost inedible".
Also the argument doesn't depend on a specific "meat" or seller or sales figures. How about mystery meat products at the food store like "olive loaf bologna" not even sure what kind of animal that comes from...
The OP claimed that McDonalds burgers were "inedible". Observably, millions of people do eat them, therefore the OP is wrong.
That says nothing about the quality of the burgers, or whether eating them is a good idea, or anything else. It merely demonstrates that people do, in fact, find them edible.
"How about mystery meat products at the food store like "olive loaf bologna""
What about it? People obviously buy it and presumably eat it, or it wouldn't be in the store.
Artificial? Where the heck are you buying your jerky? Jerky is one of the least artificial mass produced foods you can find - a big hunk of solid beef, dried, and flavored with some salt and salt-relatives. If at anything else it's not jerky.
Also, there is no requirement that meat substitutes be indistinguishable from meat to be considered edible.
I've never wanted a "something that approximates meat", I want good plant-based food, not a processed frozen puck in a box.
Similarly, I eat fish, but I'd never want to eat a "fish stick" - ick. That's where I categorize these meat alternatives.
Are you not a gay fish, then?
Wouldn't you be upset if your in-laws served you seitan that was actually chicken?
*edit: I bring this up because many people do not react well to meat substitutes. Gluten and soy intolerance affects many people and serving soy or gluten-based meat substitutes without prior informed consent can induce adverse reactions. I do believe that veganism in morally superior to carnivorism, but that still doesn't grant the right to trick others into consuming meat substitutes without their informed consent.
I checked everyone's dietary restrictions beforehand. I served fake meat without informing them at my wife's request, because she knew her father (who is stubborn southerner) and brother (who is mentally handicapped) would both refuse to like it immediately. (A visit to an all-vegetarian restaurant would later prove her correct).
In all other circumstances where I've served fake meat to others it's been very openly labeled and/or pointed out.
I'm inclined to agree with everything you've said, but Thanksgiving with the in-laws is a special moral situation, vegetarian or not :)
Secretly serving non-vegetarians vegetarian food is, technically, fraud, but it's not disrespecting their morality. That fraud might be slightly immoral (I don't think it is, but it's a topic for debate), but it's easily offset by the potential for convincing someone to become vegetarian.
* I think it was absolutely unethical of me. But it's one of those unethical things you do with in-laws, and falls within "white lies" territory as long as am I'm not endangering anyone's health nor causing them to violate moral principles.
* It was done simply to serve food we'd all eat, it was not my goal nor intention to "convert" anyone. Personally, I don't try to convert people beyond example and offering my reasonings when socially appropriate.
* I would consider tricking me into eating meat as worse than tricking someone to eat more non-meat than they would. That doesn't make what I did less of a trick.
People may be eating what they choose to eat with just as much moral conviction as your vegetarianism. That is not for you to decide.
You have no right to deceive others about what they are putting into their body, let alone in hopes of "convincing" or converting them.
You have no right to physically force your own morality upon others without their informed consent.
Think about what you have just argued for here.
On top of that, it's very likely that every ingredient in the "turkey loaf" was something that would not be out of place in an actual turkey loaf. In other words, no ingredients being secretly added, just one being removed.
So again here there is a difference adding a problem ingredient, and there being an ingredient you don't put in. For the former you need to ask about dietary restrictions and respect that. Which they did. For the latter, I don't think you're in much risk of violating anyone's moral system.
If it's unrelated to GMOs, I'm genuinely interested in what your objection might be.
Most people don't do that. It seems reasonable to assume (until established otherwise) that his inlaws have not done that.
I don't get this sentiment. I'm not close to vegetarian, but I go out of my way to try to eat less meat and when I'm not at the discretion of others (eating out, eating over at a friends house, etc) I prioritize my favorite meat-free foods, but nobody should be saying "its not meat? No way, never gonna try it, I am a blood thirsty carnivore". Even if you're like me and don't have the time, effort, or circumstance to cut meat out entirely, you should still at least try alternatives when they are presented to you.
* Mention you are dieting, and someone will declare how good their triple chocolate fudge cake is.
* Mention you're a vegetarian and they'll talk about how tasty meat is.
* Say you can't eat a particular thing (lactose, gluten, sugar, etc) and they'll loudly declare how they don't share your restriction.
I've even noticed the same tendencies in myself, so I think it's some sort of deeply wired social construct. It's not solely restricted to food but is quite common there.
Of course, this creates a vicious cycle. Just yesterday, someone offered to buy lunch for a friend of mine. He said it would have to be vegan, and the guy lost his temper. Like "how DARE you be one of those pushy types!" When the guy only said something because he was being offered food for himself to eat. Which perpetuates the cycle of distrust and mockery.
I almost exclusively eat meat. Just the thought of trying vegetables makes me feel sick to my stomach. Whether that's immoral or not is of secondary concern to me, when the alternative borders on a panic attack. Why that is, I have no idea, but I know other people with the same reaction as me, and it might partially answer your question.
I would MUCH rather have had a good vegetarian dish that wasn't trying to be something else.
I'm a flexitarian, but I'm pretty veggie heavy and have been mostly vegetarian for significant periods of time. I very rarely come across foods with green peppers.
In sandwich shops and some places with tacos and wraps, it's not uncommon to find just one dish that's properly vegetarian - often some mix of peppers, onions, squash, etc. I've always been puzzled by it, considering they tend to be somewhat polarizing vegetables. Something like beans, potatoes, rice, even corn - those things are much more broadly appealing, filling, and probably cheaper, too.
I also find that a lot of places/people don't know much about vegetarian cooking and they seem to think the only way to cure the blandness is to toss in peppers and onions.
Far more bland and full of carbs, too, so they may be more polarizing than you think.
The ability to create, cheaply, a high protein, high calorie, amino acid packed product, regardless of whether or not it is aesthetically pleasing, could have massive impacts on our ability to support the human population of this planet, in a way that existing meat and vegetarian solutions do not.
This is why I've stopped trying to find a meat substitute, they all fail in some way or another (they either don't taste right, don't have the right texture, or are far worse nutritionally than what they try to replace). I'm not a vegitarian, but I've found I prefer the Morningstar Spicy Black Bean Burger to a traditional beef patty - I like spicy foods and it has a nice texture I enjoy without feeling the need to compare it to beef. Also, the first ingredient is just plain black beans, there's some brown rice in to help as a binder but overall it has a fairly low amount of carbohydrates compared to other similar products (13g total, 4g of that is fiber).
When it comes to Morningstar's black bean burger, we agree it's not an adequate alternative in terms of taste, but I'd argue it's also not an adequate replacement in terms of health. I mentioned most existing meat alternatives do not provide enough protein. Black beans are generally fine and normally thought of as high protein, but they actually aren't a great source protein since they do not have complete amino acid profiles.
Because chicken nuggets are mystery meats to start with. They're usually made from meat slurry, with various fillers added, and shaped into that shape. A chicken breast, for example, has 43g of protein per 140g of weight; a nugget, on the other hand, has 3.1g of protein per 20g of weight.
I find it very difficult to understand how meat eaters can manage to get it through their throat without throwing up, but to each their own.
I sometimes get comments about how environmentally conscious I am or how ethical I am for being vegetarian, but I don't feel virtuous at all. It doesn't take any special willpower for me not to eat meat, I have zero craving for it.
I hate vegetarian food that tries to replicate the taste and texture of meat.
As other commenters have mentioned, there's a big market for just honest vegetarian cooking that does not try to imitate anything.
The same goes for food as for people: just be yourself! Don't try to be something you're not.
I was fed a Tofu-rkey one year when my sister and her husband were vegan. I don't think rioting occurred, but I seem to be suppressing all memory of that horror fest.
McDonalds gets hit disproportionately by anti-capitalists and environmentalists and is always trying to improve their green credentials so I'm sure they'll be working on their own recipe.
At this point the challenge is more flavour, astronomical preparation time for home-made versions thereof (DIY deep-fried veggie patties can taste excellent but they're an assload of work), and trying to reduce dairy/eggs and move more towards a vegan direction (daiya has some catching-up vs fakemeat).
There are enough delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes that it makes very little sense to go vegetarian and then eat processed imitation meat. I found being vegan significantly easier when I just looked for recipes that happened to be vegan.
I don't want to speak for your friends, but I'd be unwilling to try any veggie burger, sight unseen, either, due to a long history of disappointment with people trying to get me to try veggie burgers that aren't tasty.
I'm Indian and lots of my friends are hesitant to eat meat for religious and/or animal rights reasons.
We also don't have the stigma attached to vegetarianism as it is in America. There is no "masculinity = meat" culture here.
I am curious to see how it works out in practice though.
My favorite dishes don't contain mock meats (when I went vegan they didn't exist where I used to live, so I just got used to eating lots of legumes, whole grains and tubers), but it's fun to try these foods once in a while.
Being a picky eater is a childish trait, not sure how it became synonymous with "masculinity."
They have small farms and dual purpose chicken breeds in the US too. You don't even need the small farm, you can raise them yourself quite easily and cheaply.
It's a GMO, and people who're vegan on principle often don't like that.
Some vegans do it because killing animals is morally bankrupt.
Some vegans do it because raising livestock is unsustainable. There is not enough land on earth for everyone to have a meat diet.
Some vegans do it because it's healthier. In general you can expect to ingest less toxins by eating lower on the food chain.
I'm not sure what vegan principles are violated by GMOs. I don't know of anyone who is actually against GMOs, the debate is around labeling them not banning them.
Personally I don't understand why someone wouldn't want to eat pesticide/herbicide drenched food. It's how we're going to feed the third world.
I'm dubious about this statement. There is a lot of ocean, so seafood farming is probably quite capable of feeding humans meat. In addition, western societies currently overconsume meat. I suspect that if calorically balanced levels of consumption were observed, we probably have plenty of land.
> Some vegans do it because it's healthier. In general you can expect to ingest less toxins by eating lower on the food chain.
I see a lot of vegans eating far less healthy diets than those of carnivores. They up the oil and carb content quite significantly to make things taste better/create satiety.
I find that vegetarians (and even those who just back off on meat) seem to eat healthier than vegans, in general.
Hazlenuts, walnuts, almonds, and cashews need from 1100 to 1900 gallons per pound.
So, I'm not quite sure what you are trying to prove other than don't farm things that require water in areas that also require irrigation.
Oils can help your body absorb nutrients more effectively and also aid in other cellular processes.
Carbs are energy and your body needs this.
The key is to not consume processed carbs/oils that your body can't integrate.
Carbs from fruits and natural oils (like coconut) are a large component of any thoughtful vegan's diet. You can eat lots of these foods because they not only have carbs but they also have fiber, protein and other vitamins in good proportion, so "carb the f* up!"
Obsessively starving your body of all carbs and eating lots of meat is an extreme and unbalanced diet and will certainly lead to an early death. Just eat whole foods.
That's like saying getting kosher food labeled was really a plot to get everyone to boycott all non-kosher food.
veganism != primitivism
I understand that there's an overlap between "I don't eat that, I'm vegan" and "I don't eat that, it's not natural", but when I think of vegan principles I think of animal rights -- not fallacious appeals to nature.
That's okay! They're already vegan, so clearly they've already found a way to eat a meat-free diet that works for them.
Carnivores are a much bigger market to chase than vegans. These new meat substitutes are targeted at converting more carnivores, not making existing vegans happier.
You won't convince me with ethical arguments, you won't convince me with guilt, you won't convince me with health (I am sitting with a glass of whiskey right now), but you might convince me with taste.
One idea is, instead of trying to make plant-based food taste like meat, just make meat that doesn't involve raising and killing animals. Efforts thus far have had only mild success (IIRC, it's been done at great cost, and it reportedly tasted terrible).
Assuming these efforts succeed, where does that leave me? I have no objection to harming cells, but I'd be against the killing/harming of the various animals necessary to GET the initial stem cells to be able to grow that lab meat. But, if they perfect a method of growing "meat" that no longer involves that mistreatment, at what point is it morally acceptable to me to buy and eat that "meat"?
I imagine it's similar to anyone in a field that benefits from ethically questionable research. Military smallpox testing, that one king that raised "feral" children to see what their tabula rasa state was, the Milgram experiments...I suppose this falls in the same, um, vein.
I have so much hope for this. I'm not vegetarian, but I wouldn't mind cutting out animal cruelty from my life as much as possible, as it is a place I recognize cognitive dissonance in myself. I'm really hoping they can get the cost down, and since it's controlled, can start experimenting on ways to improve taste (artificial stimulation, etc). I see no reason why we can't eventually grow meat that tastes multiples better. It's not like nature selected for pigs and cows to taste good (although we may have, over the last few hundreds or thousands of years).
> Assuming these efforts succeed, where does that leave me?
Hopefully, it means you'll eventually be eating the best burger you've ever tasted. :)
> at what point is it morally acceptable to me to buy and eat that "meat"?
I would assume immediately at the point there's a version that doesn't harm animals, if you're in it for ethical reasons. I'm not sure I understand the question, or the implications, because it doesn't seem controversial to me at all, given the predicates.
> I imagine it's similar to anyone in a field that benefits from ethically questionable research.
I'm not sure it's related at all. What animals are harmed to help us get better lab-grown meat?
That said, questionable research it's a very interesting question in itself. I've been culturally indoctrinated to belief that it's bad, but rationally, if the resaerch leads to improved lives for people during the time we would not know that information until we found it otherwise, shouldn't we weigh that correctly? Would a study that resulted in the death of 1000 people but eliminated heart disease be worth it? Yes, but we can't know what any specific research will result in, so all we do is increase the risk of our gambles with the hope of a bigger payoff.
That said, I think we need more nuanced rules regarding some studies and people that want in them. If someone is already terminally ill, but it shouldn't affect the study, I don't see the problem with a large payout to participate in a very dangerous study.
I'm assuming the acquisition of the original cells is not done at all kindly, (as in, I suspect the animal doesn't survive it), and that this is done many, many times before they perfect the process, but I'll admit that's an assumption on my part and it could be well within my ethical boundaries.
I don't plan to prejudge any options until I actually know, this was more of a hypothetical exercise that I've pondered now and again because I assume the day will come when it's actually real and the question will no longer be hypothetical. Knowing what matters to me then is better than trying to figure it out on the spot.
I was sort of under the impression it's animal stem cells, which doesn't necessitate death on the part of the animal (although I'll give you it's probably likely, to easy harvesting in some way). Like human stem cells, they aren't consumed entirely in use, which is good since US law precludes any new lines of stem cells in research. There are 279 approved lines of cells in the US, but most researchers just use two or three lines. They just culture more cells from that line when they need them.
Well, it's only hypothetical in that it costs far too much at the moment, but if if trends continue from the extremely small dataset I've seen, we're seeing a 60% drop in price per year. If it's $18k a pound now, it should be under $10 a pound in 15 years (which might match the cost of beef with inflation by then). So, count on it in 15 years. Totally scientific. ;)
OTOH, I've been vegetarian for 15 years and most meat flavors and textures have worn on me.
I don't think they care about people who are vegan on principle. They want to sell to meat eaters.