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A rise in vegetarian options leads customers to embrace meat-free meals (nature.com)
276 points by elorant 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 259 comments

The dish mentioned sounds far better than what is usually served as vegetarian food at canteens and restaurants. Quite often they offer just a compilation of side-dishes to have something vegetarian on their menu. (Dumblings with red cabbage and - wait for it - gravy from roasting meat is a widespread menu offer for vegetarians in southern Germany. Not sure if it counts as vegetarian option though).

Once people notice that vegetarian food does not have to be heaps of vegetables or to taste bland, they're far more open to actually try it. I think it's rather a problem with chefs not being familiar with vegetarian recipes than people actually not liking it at all.

POV: Omnivore with a (previously) vegetarian spouse. We generally ate veg @ home

One of my biggest issues with modern veg diets is all of the veg food trying to masquerade as other food. Soy bacon does not taste like, or taste as good as, real bacon. Tofu and Boca burgers do not taste like actual meat. But tofu and the like can taste amazing on its own merit. It's an ingredient with it's own flavors and textures, so put it where it can do some good.

And don't get me started on veg patties. I have a (very) meat loving father who got completely hooked on Boca burgers while on Weight Watchers. He'll still eat them on a regular basis, even though he looooves regular burgers, just because they're delicious.

In my mind, you don't have to try to pretend to be something else to be good, especially veg sandwich patties. Latkes are amazing. Refried beans bound together with eggs, breaded and deep fried sounds amazing. Don't put yourself next to something else and force a comparison. Just be tasty.

Mock meat foods are a great way for restaurants to easily serve vegetarian or vegan plates with a simple substitution. They also make a massive number of recipes accessible to vegetarians or vegans. They also lower the barrier to entry for meat eaters to convert to eating less meat. I think they're really great in many ways.

Downsides: they are highly processed, currently expensive, and of questionable nutritional value.

That was the approach you'd see in UK restaurants and pubs 15 or 20+ years ago. In place of a vegetarian dish they'd prepare some mash up of regular dish with meat substitute - Quorn sausages, or mince in a lasagne etc everything else as for the carnivore serving. Or a side dish bulked up to pretend to be a main. They were usually to be avoided, unless like one or two of my friends you were vegan or vegetarian and stuck with them.

Now, more of my friends are vegan, and all good restaurants have vegan first dishes, created to get the best of the ingredients rather than pretend to be something else. Many of them are incredibly nice and I might choose them over a steak with no more difficulty than deciding lamb over beef another day.

As a result we are eating less and less meat - because we are discovering great vegan dishes beyond Indian cuisine - that's always been strong on vegetarian dishes. Not because we've decided to don hair shirts and "tolerate" vegetarian meals. That it's better for the environment is a bonus, but food quality and taste can stand by itself now.

Another downside it that they have the potential to turn people away, because they don't even resemble what someone is expecting. For example, calling fried jackfruit "fried chicken". Fried jackfruit is delicious on it's own merit, but it doesn't even come close to a fried chicken substitute. And if I order vegan fried chicken, anything can be the chicken substitute, but I bet it won't be as good as fried jackfruit if it's not fried jackfruit. I'd rather they just call it what it really is, and if it's tasty, it will be memorable.

Trying to offer "bridge" foods that are vegetable versions of normal dishes doesn't help. It never is as good, at best it's "yeah...its OK." So you have only re-enforced the idea that vegetarian food will never be quiet as good as the "real thing".

On the off chance it is exactly like the meat its pretending to be then all your saying is "See? All you have to do is spend more for exactly the same thing!"

I might try a "Quenwopper" bowl for 9 bucks if they offered it at BK. I'm not spending 9 bucks on a burger who's entire selling point is that it tastes exactly like the cheaper burger.

Kind of a shor-term view, no? The Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat patties are significantly closer to a beef-life flavor than past patties, and they're improving at a quick pace.

They may be more expensive now, but it's pretty likely that economies of scale will reduce the price of plant-based meat substitutes, while pretty unlikely that Tyson Foods is going to quickly find a cheaper way to raise a cow.

I rolled into Burger King and bought a normal whopper and a Impossible whopper for the express stated purpose of being able to say the thing I was pooh-poohing (meatless burger!? let's be serious, I said to myself) was something I had tried before.

Besides being slightly too burnt from the flame grilling of a high school kid, it tasted delicious. Quite comparable to the usual fast food burger in terms of taste, look, and texture. I would not recommend it as a steak replacement though. Could be hamburger helper if it retained its form when boiled.

I will opt for it again when available, admittedly I eat at BK approx. once a year.

Veggie “meat equivalent” foods weren’t created to feed people too picky for tofu or chickpeas.

They’re there because, pretty often, someone first decides to cook a traditionally meat-containing dish, and buys all the ingredients for it; and only then finds out (or only then considers) that some of the people they’re feeding are vegetarians; and so, to save the dish they’ve already planned, buying some veggie pseudo-meats to put in some of the food in place of the meat they were going to use, is the simplest way to ensure everyone can eat “the dish.” (Even though, if the dish is just meant to highlight or accent the flavour and texture of a meat, then what they’ve made the vegetarians is in essence an entirely different dish. The packaging on the meat-substitutes promises that it will try as hard as possible to not take your meat dish and turn it into a different dish, and many cooks believe them.)

I just went full vegetarian at the start of the year and my biggest issue at first was I kept trying to find replacements for everything, which just wasn't the same. Some replacements were good, some were just awful, but I always compared it to the real thing.

After I started embracing just vegetarian/vegan dishes without them being replacements, I realised I had loads of things to discover and just treated this change as a way to explore new food. After I did that, I loved it, so I agree 100%, while I like some replacements, that shouldn't be the main focus.

An influential book for me was Arnold Schoenberg's Theory of Harmony. It's half harmonic theory and half a manifesto on art. In a lengthy footnote he advises using materials to their advantages, rather than forcing them to do something they weren't meant to do. I've seen this sentiment mentioned in other places as well.

As a vegetarian, I've felt this was wonderfully applicable. There's so many great flavors and textures you can achieve with plants, but a lot of vegetarian cook books and pre-made food aim to mimic meat-based dishes instead of embracing more natural outcomes of these different materials.

I get so tired of this argument. If you were raised eating meat then you'll likely have tendencies to eat meals based around meat. Meat substitutes make sense in the current world and given the typical diet of western cultures. It doesn't have to taste just like the meat it mocks, it just has to taste good. There is nothing special about the taste of chicken or beef other than it is good and you're used to it. If something is similar it doesn't have to be exact and if it doesn't hit that mark it doesn't make it inferior. Chances are most meat doesn't taste the same and has various levels of quality but people don't have the same level of scrutiny between choices of chicken as they do between fake chicken and real chicken. I have given fake buffalo chicken sandwiches to friends before that had no idea at all that it wasn't real until I told them (Iknew about any allergies beforehand). Please excuse my tone, I've been veg for +10 years now and I'm tired of hearing the same weak arguments and excuses. People eat too much meat and it's time to stop making excuses. It's not necessary to stop eating it completely if you don't want to but you shouldn't be eating it more than a few times each week. The nuance of your argument is not lost on me, in fact I agree with the main point but not the part meant to persuade.

You might get tired of it, but it's a pretty strong argument. If I know what real bacon tastes like then eating some vegetarian facsimile of bacon is going to lead to massive disappointment and drawing the conclusion that eating vegetarian is not really an option for me. If instead I just eat things that are vegetarian and have no meat based equivalent then there is a good chance of discovering new and interesting foods and really being able to enjoy what you are eating.

For people who feel strongly enough about the ethics of animal farming and the environment, meat substitutes can be "good enough." When I gave up meat years ago I just considered it to be the price of doing what was right.

I wasn't trying to make the argument that "'not meat' doesn't taste as good as 'meat', so don't eat it", but rather "Don't eat oranges looking for apple". Oranges are still delicious, but they're different and comparing them is not the point.

Also, I might disagree with this statement:

> There is nothing special about the taste of chicken or beef other than it is good and you're used to it.

Umami (savoriness) is actually fairly difficult to find outside of meat if you have an even slightly limited diet and some studies suggest it's craved as an instinctive signal of protein (like sweetness and simple carbs), so if you just stop eating meat there can definitely something missing.

(BTW, if you're trying to get off of meat but still have a craving, dried mushrooms and soy sauce have very concentrated umami flavors, and adding MSG can just up the tasty factor in a lot of dishes)

> It doesn't have to taste just like the meat it mocks, it just has to taste good

You just made the same argument you are attempting to argue against.

Absolutely this. I never met a vegetable I didn't like and there are tons of great vegetarian dishes and maybe its 100% mental but the moment you try to turn a non-vegetarian dish into a vegetarian dish, and especially if you try to use a meat substitute, its over.

I'd hate to think this is true but perhaps vegetarians go so long they forget what things taste like but some of these meat substitutes are straight up disgusting and I don't know why people even bother with them.

I'm sure there are disgusting meat substitutes but it feels like they're super rare.

Wheat gluten nuggets and patties are dope, veggie patties are often disappointing but rarely bad, seitan strips can be slimy if you don't cook them but you basically can't mess it up otherwise, tempeh at worst tastes like crumbly bland nuts, shredded wheat gluten comes out 'oily' if you don't drain it but beyond that is hard to mess up, tofu just tastes like tofu you either love or hate it, and the branded burger subtitutes basically taste like an okay burger.

Where are all the disgusting options hiding?

Just as a counter to this, while I agree such substitutes are a poor facsimile to real meat I'm incredibly grateful for them.

I'm vegetarian for moral reasons but my problem is I don't really like vegetables and have constant meat craving. Being able to cook dishes I've been eating for the first 27 years of my life and make them vegetarian (though not as good) is a life saver and I'm grateful for the increasing investment and development in this area.

> One of my biggest issues with modern veg diets is all of the veg food trying to masquerade as other food.

Look at them as a way to help people slowly transition their taste buds to a new diet and to help people easily cook meals that both vegans and non-vegans would eat.

But its always worse than what it emulates. If you want to promote veggies, maybe start with a good dish? I understand familiarity is a thing, but so is taste.

> But its always worse than what it emulates. If you want to promote veggies, maybe start with a good dish? I understand familiarity is a thing, but so is taste.

I don't think that's true at all.

You can make great dishes with tofu, seitan and tempeh, where some cultures have been cooking with these for a long time (tofu goes back 2000 years).

Also, look at what people are saying about modern plant based burgers at fast food places.

Here is the thing though (8+ year vegetarian here, with vegan periods): we have been grown up eating shit like that. Eating sausages, salami, all that jazz.

There is nothing wrong with going back to the spices and texture of that. A certified bio soy sausage gives me everything that I want to get that is familiar and similar to me eating hot-dogs in my childhood - and without any ethical concerns. So please, do understand that not everyone wants to replicate food, but rather just want something with a shape of familiarity to insert into their everyday staples.

That's interesting. Now thinking about it, a downside of this framing is that it might turn people away from those ingredients. Particularly if it's their first time trying it.

If you're expecting bacon and it doesn't taste like bacon, then your impression and association with said ingredient is going to be negative by default.

I'm not vegetarian and I agree with you 100%. That said my favorite sandwich in the world is a fake soy turkey avocado sandwich at Jan's Health Food Bar in Huntington Beach California. It would taste worse with real turkey IMO.

> But tofu and the like can taste amazing on its own merit.

Pretty much most people I know (read: non-veggies) agree with you on this point. The harder they try and imitate meat the worse the quality of food tends to be imo.

Agreed. The vegetarian things I eat, taste nice, and just happen to be vegetarian, they're not meat replaced with Quorn.

Additionally, one thing I don't understand, up until recently animal rights seems to have been the main driver behind vegetarianism. If you're morally against eating pig, why would you want to eat something that pretends to be pig?

Because it tastes good.

It's not a contradiction to enjoy the taste of an animal, while also believing that the harvesting of that animal is unethical.

As a non vegetarian, there's only one meat I don't eat for moral reasons, and I wouldn't want to eat anything that pretends to be that meat, regardless of whether I like the taste.

Quorn cubes, or Quorn mince I can understand, they're generic. Vegetarian bacon is supposed to be a specific part of a specific animal. And I've never heard anyone argue, vegetarian or otherwise, that vegetarian bacon tastes anything like actual bacon anyway.

No different than the reason people eat turkey bacon. To have a different option that's the right "shape".

Bacon is basically synonymous with crispy rectangle and sometimes dammit I want salty crispy rectangles on my burger.

Perhaps? I (personally) would disagree. To me bacon isnt generic, its as specific as chicken leg. I can see how that would account for the discrepancy though.

If you're morally against killing people, why would you want to play a game about killing people?

One other thing I've never quite understood is that a child can watch James Bond shoot a few hundred people and that's fine, it is significantly less fine for that child to watch a film of 2 people having sex, even though sex is a normal heathy part of life. In the UK a 16 year old can legally have sex, but cant watch it?!

Tbh I'm not sure, I get turned off by things like Saw, because I don't really think theres the need to go that far, but on the other hand, is Mario jumping on a turtle animal cruelty?

I suppose the line is realism? Mario isnt attempting to be real? Quorn mince isnt attempting to be real, vegetarian bacon is.

I mean for me it's just a question of nutrition. Especially if I'm doing a lot of activity, vegetarian food that "pretends to be meat" gives me a lot more protein with less fiber and carbs which translates into a better balance for exercise.

It doesn't sound like you're a vegetarian for an animal welfare reason though?

If you've stopped eating meat for environmental/health reasons then there isn't really the contradiction.

'Salty Crispy protein bits' gets us the same thing as vegetarian bacon, without seemingly being morally objectionable to a demographic you're targeting.

I'm a vegetarian for a variety of reasons, but I don't understand why anyone would have a moral problem with making facsimiles of dead animals. (It's actually imprisoning and killing living creatures that I think most people have a moral problem with.)

Fair enough, I can think of a few situations where a facsimile can cause moral problems, sex I've mentioned, pedophilia, dressing up as a nazi/kkk.

Obviously that feeling isnt as wide spread as I thought though.

The purpose of Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers is offering alternatives to meat eaters, not veggie eaters looking to eat something that tastes like meat.

Western cuisine seems to fundamentally misunderstand vegetables. Methinks it was partly the unavailability of spices, and partly the easy availability of meat.

Meat is like a cheat code when you're cooking. A good cut of meat needs a little more than some salt and fat to taste good.

With vegetables, you're forced to be more inventive.

Take okra for instance. In India, its a favorite vegetable. Saute it with some Indian spices and it becomes a crunchy, flavorful dish.

Whenever I've seen okra in western menus, it is usually boiled which turns it into a gooey, sticky mess.

I love eating meat but I would be perfectly happy sticking to vegetarian-only food as long as I'm living in India

I've always thought it was wealth. Around the world, wealthy people tended to have fairly similar diets with lots of meat (even in Asian areas, with exceptions for Jains and others who had religious objections). It's poor regions and peoples who need spices to make food palatable. There was a cuisine lock-in around 1850-1950 where food culture solidified into a single thing [1], and if your region was poor when that happened, you end up with interesting vegetables and flavors, and if it was rich, you end up with "large hunks of meat" as your cultural foods.

[1]: The reason British food has such a terrible reputation is that their cuisine solidified before widespread refrigeration was available but after urbanization, so it was built around carrying foods long distances that could survive no refrigeration- which drives you to overcooking, lots of sausages and preserved meats, etc. For most other regions the food culture represents a time before urbanization, and modern refrigeration supports that even when the population urbanized.

I wonder what impact the British seafaring tradition had on their dietary habits. You can't have spices and flavorful food if you're going to spend months at sea.

> Methinks it was partly the unavailability of spices.

I see that you are unacquainted with Southern food, specifically Cajun cuisine. I cannot recommend a culinary expedition to New Orleans highly enough. It will change your life!

Stories I've heard of southern cuisine describe meat dishes with a side of more meat.

It's not all meat but it it's not healthy either. I can't speak to Cajun food, but fried okra, hushpuppies, and Cole slaw, are all important side dishes where I live. Fresh tomatoes or fried-green tomatoes too are good ones too.

I will say, as someone who's live in both southern and northern US states...

- Northern "American" food traditions tend to completely lack seasoning of any sort (note: not including appropriated ethnic traditions here)

- Southern "American" food traditions tend to heavily season vegetables (often with ham)

Essentially, if you just took raw vegetables and steamed them, nobody would bat an eye in New England.

In the Southeast, nobody would eat them. And it would probably be politely suggested that you never bring food to the church picnic again.

I can't confirm if northerners actually eat unseasoned steamed veggies (surely they at least add salt and pepper?)

But I can can confirm that would be considered basically inedible in the south. For example, the most common broccoli dish is typically a broccoli casserole loaded up with cheese, bread crumbs, and various seasonings, and butter and/or cream as well.

Also the most common squash dish! And green bean! And sweet potato (with more sugar)!

I'm not an authority on the matter but I figure it's due to the heavy germanic influences in modern Western dining. It seems like that's where the idea that a "meal" is "meat plus a side of X" came from.

I think it's also a matter of Northern European climates, meat and dairy was available for most of the year while vegetables other than potatoes and onions where really only in spring and summer.

There are a whole host of root vegetables that are pretty darn tasty and basically absent from the modern American diet.

Beet, Turnip, Parsnip, Rutabaga to name a few.

Northern climates can and in the past have grown a wide variety of vegetables.

I don't know where exactly to pin the blame for the current (but improving) state of affairs, but it isn't for lack of ability to grow a diverse set of vegetables.

Not sure about beetroots in winter but the rest seem plausible.

Not so much the west in general, Southern Europe do nice things with veg.

Cant speak for other countries, but in the UK it seems to have been a combination of servants getting too expensive for middle class families, so House wives, who didn't previously need to cook, now suddenly having to learn (A special mention goes out to Mrs Beeton for teaching people to overcook things), and rationing and general shortages during the world wars.

I'm a meat eater myself but have I have 4 vegan family members. It's amazing how the range of vegan / vegetarian food has exploded in the UK over the last few years, I think this has made it much easier to maintain a vegan diet because socially it's much easier to eat almost anywhere rather than having to pick somewhere specifically for the vegetarian options.

Read a stat from one of the industry trade bodies that vegan takeaway order volume in the UK grew over 300% last year.

Admittedly, they didn't share the actual volumes themselves so will be a low base - but there's an (shameless pun) appetite for it.

In my experience, and in particular with conference food, vegetarian dishes has its own food culture and tastes. To be specific they usually do not include any pepper, garlic, chili, or herbs like parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and cumin. Salt and umami is also often missing. Instead the cooks tries to create tastes through using different grains, seeds, fruits, salads and vegetables. Food without meat does not have to follow that culture but it is a bit like telling thai cooks to not use fish sauce, cilantro and chilies.

For me if food without meat want to raise a larger audience it must first be separated from the vegetarian food culture, because not everyone like the taste of that food culture.

Vegetarian in NYC here. There are plenty of spices used in vegetarian food. Maybe non-veg chefs in the west don’t know how to spice food, but there are tons of spices used in veg dishes from all over the world. Typically I can judge how a restaurant is going to be if I look at the veg options on a menu — good chefs certainly know how to use spices and how to cook vegetables.

“You’ve just never had good wine.”


Every time a conference (yes, in the “western” world) has had a vegetarian food option, or proudly proclaims that their only food option is vegetarian, it has uniformly consisted of bland, barely edible, mush. I don’t really care why that is, and I don’t think this can be fixed by something I can realistically do.

I am assuming you mean some sort of Western vegetarian food culture. Vegetarian food cultures that have lasted thousands of years feature everything you've mentioned as lacking.

You should make friends with a family from India, and see all the spices they use in their vegetarian food.

Anecdote: a friend (vegetarian) studied abroad and had a scholarship that included housing and food at the canteen. Being a vegetarian made it pretty lacking in variety because the lunchs consisted of a bowl of rice or pasta, depending on which of these was the side-dish to meat that day. There was different fruit yoghurts for dessert at least ;)

(Edit: removed country to not blame anyone for their cuisine)

Even vegan restaurants hardly sell good food.

In their attempt to make a shoddy substitute for meat dishes, they completely butcher the innate capabilities of the vegetables.

I know that sounds a bit snooty, but western cuisines simply do not lend themselves well to vegetarian ingredients.

India is obviously the most familiar with good veg food, but most cuisines in Asia have good vegetarian offerings. Everything from China, Thailand, Iran, Lebanon and even Eastern Africa have some if not many great veg offerings.

Any cuisine that is based around spices (not necessarily the hot ones, but spice in general) is much better suited to vegetarian ingredients.

What we need is for people to become slightly adventurous in the way they eat, and stop living in their food bubbles.

Counter-anecdote: I have a couple of vegan restaurants near me which make dishes that are definitely imitative of meat-based dishes, but are amazing and I would rate as one of the top restaurants including all vegan or non-vegan restaurants.

One does Southern Kitchen/Soul Food type stuff, and the other is turkish/middle-eastern cuisine.

Not trying to detract from any points about Indian and other Asian cuisines being phenomenal for veggie dishes, just that it's not a rule that western cuisine does not lend itself well to vegetarian ingredients, but more that it's just not as developed here.

The vegan/veg restaurants I've tried even in the US focused on fresh vegetables and grains in interesting and delicious ways. I've never gone to one of those places and seen fake meat though I have to admit the number of vegan/veg restaurants I've gone to in the US can be counted on one hand. I'm omnivorous by practice.

> What we need is for people to become slightly adventurous in the way they eat, and stop living in their food bubbles.

If the choice is between inventing food picky people are willing to eat, and making people less picky, inventing food seems far easier. (See also: https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/10/society-is-fixed-biolo...)

Vegetables are hard to prepare, especially in a production setting. Of course it has to taste good, but also not turn to mush on the trip from the kitchen to the table. Meat, especially when started with sous vide portions, is much less critical of timing and other conditions.

It's a lot easier at home, and in fact, even heaps of vegetables can be quite good if they're fresh and prepared to your taste.

With one vegetarian in the household, we eat great at home, but restaurants are always a coin toss.

My brother is a strict vegan and had no trouble on a recent trip to Germany. He used some kind of app to find restaurants with good vegan options.

This has changed recently in the UK. As of the last year or so, pretty much everywhere has at least 2 or 3 decent vegetarian options.

This comment does not describe the UK. It’s great to be veggie or vegan here.

Vegetarian food can be delicious or disgusting, just as meat can be.

I wouldn't salivate over sitting down to a dinner of boiled stew beef cubes without any seasoning at all...

Which is pretty much the equivalent of boiled rice and broccoli. (Standard vegetarian fare at a lot of cafeterias in North America).

I noticed something yesterday...

Capitalistic enterprises really shit on vegetarians for some reason, and I can't quite figure out why.

The local pizza place put a flyer in my mailbox... they have plant based pizza now with cauliflower based crusts... vegetarian peperoni and vegan cheese... two servings of vegetables in the crust alone etc etc...

That's great, but why does it cost twice as much as all of the other pizzas on offer?

Or all of these plant based meat patties that are coming out... twice as expensive as the admittedly more delicious meat based counterparts... and that's buying in bulk, looking for the best deal.

I live in Canada, btw.

Cauliflower costs substantially more than flour, if I were to guess.

The plant based patties are highly processed and much lower volume.

Why would you expect these things to cost the same?

Possibly because ingredient costs are only a small part of a restaurant's expenses. Staff, rent, utilities, cleaning, etc. make up such a huge part that the food prices can be set primarily in terms of demand.

The price of inputs sets a floor on what they can charge, but even if a veggie patty cost twice as much as a beef patty, that would be $.30 rather than $.15. That doesn't justify a cost difference of $4 versus $3 in a fast food place, or $18 versus $15 in a sit-down restaurant.

Lots of issues come into play, but I suspect the biggest factor is simply that the restaurant owner believes that the vegetarians self-select to spend more. And they may well be right about it, at least for now. At one time, meats were seen as a luxury (as was dining out), and if vegetarian options become popular, meat eaters insisting on "real meat" may be the ones paying a premium.

Doubtless there's some pricing power coming into play. An "alternative" is always going to be pricier, else it wouldn't be an alternative, it would just be the thing.

But: food costs are something like 25% of a restaurant's costs. Even if the parent is talking exclusively about restaurants, it seems quite reasonable if something like a cauliflower crust is >4x as expensive as something dirt cheap like a flour dough.

What's up with these openly anti-Canada quips being added to replies to this comment? That seems wholly unnecessary.

In the US (likely same for Canada), livestock farmers are given huge subsidies. What a farmer pays for corn for cows is much less than you would pay to buy corn, after accounting for the difference in quality, because they get tax subsidies. So it's actually central planning (socialism) that is making plants more expensive than meat.

If you want good vegetarian/vegan cuisine, you shouldn't go to western franchise foods. That's like going to a steak house and ordering a salad. These companies know their customers, they know they generally aren't vegetarians, so they put minimum effort/expertise into an item that few will order anyway.

On the other hand, most foreign cuisines have developed good vegetarian dishes out of necessity. Some places even specialize to cater to vegetarians/vegans. That's just as capitalist as the major burger franchise next door. So take your money where your mouth is.

> I live in Canada, btw.

You do, but you don't have to. Just saying.

>Capitalistic enterprises really shit on vegetarians for some reason, and I can't quite figure out why.

What? That's nonsense. You'd be a fool to have nothing suitable for vegetarians on your menu these days, there's quite a lot of them out and about anymore.

>The local pizza place put a flyer in my mailbox... they have plant based pizza now with cauliflower based crusts... vegetarian peperoni and vegan cheese... two servings of vegetables in the crust alone etc etc...That's great, but why does it cost twice as much as all of the other pizzas on offer?

I own a food service establishment and price is always determined first and foremost by two things: food cost and labour cost. That sort of pizza would be a right pain to make labour-wise, and vegan cheese is very expensive (not to mention dreadfully bad, but I digress). That pizza costing twice as much as anything else sounds a bit on the extreme side but not too terribly out of line, especially if it's a rare order (I suspect it likely is).

>I live in Canada, btw.

Sorry to hear that, mate ;)

I'm convinced that abomination called "cheese" never melts.

I travel to Europe about once a year and I've noticed they're far behind the US in terms of vegetarian options. In the US it's been easy to get a high quality, vegetarian meal at almost any restaurant for at least a decade (edit: at least in metro areas; perhaps rural areas are different, although I haven't noticed this personally). Meanwhile in Europe it's almost impossible to get anything resembling a full meal. Like you say, it's usually simply a meal based around meat with the meat removed. I hope things are getting better over there.

Where is “Europe”? London? Athens? Budapest? Kyiv? The availability of vegetarian-friendly food varies drastically from city to city. Half of the cities in this list of “Top Vegan Cities” are in Europe: London, Berlin, Warsaw, Paris, and Prague.


I agree with your "Where is Europe" sentiment, but lists like this aren't super helpful.

The fact that western site somehow doesn't have a single Asian city, despite veganism tracing it's roots to India, in their top 10 feels less like an objective analysis and more of a list of places the editors have visited.

I don’t think it’s fair to expect an English-language, western-focused website to cover India. I doubt the average Westerner could name more than a city or two in India to begin with.

Even then, I am skeptical as to the claim that contemporary western veganism, as a cultural phenomenon, is traceable to India. I would attribute it more to developments in western ethics and growing awareness of the realities of the meat production economy, combined with left-wing culture and politics in general.

Let's ignore India specifically, and call out "the whole rest of the world that isn't the US, Western Europe, and Israel".

Why isn't it fair? You're saying "the best vegan cities in the world" and ignoring the vast majority of the world. Should I take this list as the definitive list of the objectively best vegan cities, or some westerner's take the subject? If you don't want to be judged on the world stage, don't bring the world into it. Say "the best vegan cities we've been to" or "the best vegan cities in europe/the US". They wrote a list, I'm critical of their list and process.

Here's a better list IMO, if you're trying to talk about the world. https://theveganword.com/vegan-friendly-cities-2018/

Also, you can talk about "contemporary western veganism" but that's very different from "veganism" in general. You're moving the goalposts sir.

I only linked to the site as a response to the above poster, who was comparing Europe to America. If you have an issue with the title of the post I linked to, take it up with the author. Otherwise, this is a pointless pedantic argument that has nothing to do with the original reason I linked to the article.

Let's just agree to disagree on what constitutes good supporting evidence and move on.

And London is the #1 city as well. Is that person just trying to throw shade on Europe?

You can't really make a statement like that about "Europe" and be right, as the amount of options really varies throughout Europe. The UK has had a lot of options for vegetarians for a while, and outside of rural areas the Netherlands is excellent as well. But Hungary, for example, was far less easy (though still very doable) last time I checked it: the vegetarians in our group had to have grilled Camembert in practically every restaurant.

I would say this is probably a slight overstatement of the situation in the US. In California and New York it has been very easy for a decade, but the midwest (St. Louis, Lawrence, Omaha) has only recently become nearly as easy as the coasts within--my perception is--the last three years.

However, I agree with the overall point of your comment. The US is comparatively much easier overall than Europe is, and the quality of the restaurant options in the US has improved quite rapidly over the past 5 years.

Edit: I would note this really only applies to western cuisine options. Indian and Thai food have been widely available for quite some time and have a lot of vegetarian options.

Which country? It highly depends. More veggie friendly: Germany, Sweden, UK. Less veggie friendly: Denmark, France. And then it depends on the region. (And with my few visits in the US I didn't find it particularly rich in vegetarian options, with the exception of San Francisco.)

More veggie friendly: Germany

Even that is highly variable. Berlin, absolutely! Small town outside of Dresden, not so much.

True, rural eastern Germany is particularly difficult.

What countries? Remember that Europe consists of many countries and the cultures/cuisine differ greatly.

In Sweden we have a pretty good selection of vegetarian options, at least according to my vegetarian friend.

This really depends on which particular part of US comparing against which particular part of the EU.


- Louisville, Kentucky vs Berlin

- San Francisco, California vs Munich

There's never been a better (ie. easier) time to be a vegetarian.

I switched a little while ago, and was expecting restaurant meals to be a huge pain. In actuality I rarely have to worry about it, and even though I'm a picky eater most decent restaurants now have enough options that I can find something that I like.

On top of that, the increased diversity of vegetarian options that restaurants are offering has been really helpful in expanding my pallet in general. It's more likely when eating out that something I've never tried before catches my eye and I discover that I really like it when prepared a certain way. Eating out more (within reason) can be an effective way to get yourself to try new foods -- there are a lot of vegetables that I've gotten accustomed to that I used to heavily avoid.

I would highly suggest vegetarian food seekers to try out cuisines that have worked out vegetarian options over time (Indian / Thai) rather than the options that try to substitute a green salad.

I also have a HUGE resistance for stuff like Beyond meats - When I want meat, I really don't want to try out synthetic haeme or whatever that makes this taste like meat - at least for the next 15-20 years when we figure out what cancer it causes. A bean burger is an awesome meal, so is milk based products (pizza et al). Even better are a combination of pita bread + hummus and so on.

It is very much possible to start off small - eat real vegetarian x days of a week or move to meat only for lunch or only dinner and you can go from there in small steps. You can even switch to white meat to start with. A planned setup like that actually makes me enjoy the meat more when I get it. A good reuben is extra good when it happens only once a month.

I also don't really buy we have to be fully vegetarian to see all the benefits (I grew up vegetarian, picked up meat eating and I would like to think I walk a reasonable line).

> to try out synthetic haeme or whatever that makes this taste like meat

The synthetic hemoglobin is Impossible's (patented) technique to make it cook like meat, because it's fake red blood cells. Long story short, it's a slightly differently different way to (kind of) ferment soy beans, and while it may not be as old as Soy Sauce, after as long as Asian cultures have been (ab)using the soy bean, Impossible's process would be quite hard pressed to find some new cancer to cause.

The rest is just mostly various combinations of plants (beans, plant fibers, spices), just as bean burgers and veggie burgers have always been.

Though don't let me stop your skepticism. Beyond / Impossible are useful beef substitutes and probably aren't healthier than beef, but they probably aren't any worse than beef either.

> I really don't want to try out synthetic haeme or whatever

It's not synthetic, though. It's real heme in real leghemoglobin produced in yeast instead of hemoglobin in animals.

I'm definitely part of this trend.

My favorite carhop burger joint (Hire's Big H, SLC) makes their own veggie patty that to me is their best thing on their menu. It's really crafted to be a flavorful/textural experience without being "fake meat". I'm not even vegetarian and it's been my go to there for a while now.

This was all before I had a grasp of the environmental impact of meat production.

Twenty years ago there was a restaurant in Bethesda that made its own veggie burger. To my taste, it was the best thing on the menu. And I only started experimenting with veggie/vegan/pescetarian cuisine a couple years ago (I go pescetarian a couple days a week).

I am not vegetarian, but I still sometimes choose the vegetarian option because it tastes good. I'm not very surprised by more people finding tasty vegetarian options when more are made available.

> I'm not very surprised by more people finding tasty vegetarian options when more are made available.

This is a bit off-topic, but this always bothers me. Just because we're discussing a topic doesn't mean we're surprised by it. Some data being new and worth discussing doesn't mean it broke from expectations.

You can see the same thing in this other thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21146856 No one is clutching their pearls, folks. We're just having a conversation.

You might be right, but I would understand "I'm not surprised" as a way to introduce an opinion or an analysis, rather than as something like "It would be dumb to be surprised".

Though to be fair, I had a similar reaction when I saw the title as the commenter of your link (more like, "Well, no shit!").

I still find the conversation and the points of view of everyone here interesting, I would not be here otherwise. I would be particularly interested by someone who would indeed be surprised and offer an analysis I could not see.

>When the proportion of meatless options doubled from one to two of four choices, overall sales remained about constant. But sales of meat-containing meals dropped, and sales of vegetarian meals, such as “wild mushroom, roasted butternut squash and sun blushed tomato risotto with parmesan”, rose 40–80%.

So they cut the available meat options and doubled the available vegetarian options and find it surprising they sold more vegetarian food? Making things unavailabile does tend to have that effect.

Many people, instead, would expect the percentage of meat to vegetarian sales to remain constant, as they believe that meat-eaters wouldn't choose a vegetarian option. (And some people still don't consider it a lunch or dinner without some sort of meat.)

Well throw out the entire meat/non-meat idea. And instead replace meat with expensive dish and non-meat with inexpensive dish. They went from offering 1 inexpensive dish to 4 inexpensive dishes. Its really not surprising when you quadruple the number of inexpensive dishes you will see an increase in the number of inexpensive dishes sold.

Now if the meat dishes were the same price as non-meat dishes you would probably still see a small spike in sale of non-meat dishes when you quadruple the number of options, but the price is to big of a variable to ignore, especially with University students.

It shows people pick interesting sounding options from a range with little care to whether it has meat in or not. We’re in such a meat dominated society that the current change is showing how flexible we actually are to fitting in with more eco ways of eating.

>It shows people pick interesting sounding options from a range with little care to whether it has meat in or not.

Thats probably true, but I think more importantly it shows people pick the more inexpensive options from a range with little care to whether it has meat in or not. In other words if the non-meat dishes were more expensive than the meat dishes, the sales would have been different.

Did it say they cut the meat options?

It seems they simply increased the number of vegie options from the cursory single 'meatloaf', and that did the trick.

I've recently become "much more vegie", and honestly I look forward to many of the vegie meals more than those with meat. I think meat should be reserved for meals where it can really shine; steak, ribs, bacon, etc.

Pies, curries, soups, casseroles, etc can often do without meat entirely, or with much less, or just with added meat stock.

I think this is the first step to the future of food.

I often choose the vegetarian option when eating out simply because I know how to grill a steak or roast some chicken at home— I can make those meals just as well as they can, and for half the cost or less.

When I see multiple vegetarian meal options, that's a signal that the chef isn't just doing a low effort protein swap-out but is actually offering something tasty and interesting, and I'm interested to try it.

Huh. I do the opposite—I order meat out (not always, but sometimes) and rarely cook it at home. I can and every now and then do make good dishes with meat, but find it fussy, messy, and very expensive if you screw it up. Plus I have trouble with the leftovers (leftover chicken almost always has a really, really bad flavor to me, for example).

Veggies have their own PITA issues, of course. I just prefer to put up with those rather than those and meat's issues, in my home kitchen & pantry.

[EDIT] another factor's that I don't really care for most cheap meats. Ground beef? Eh, no. Shredded chicken from a can? God no. Cheap fish available this far from the ocean? I'll pass. Carne asada (expensive these days), a great steak, good sushi? Hell yes. But I'll leave it to the pros so I don't wreck an expensive piece of meat, no more often than I get that particular craving.

That's fair. I'm mostly cooking on the weekends, for a family of five, so doing something like a 4lb roast chicken with potatoes and veggies is a pretty economical and straightforward meal. Everyone gets their fill, but there's enough left for at least one lunch portion or maybe even a second dinner like chicken Caesar wraps.

> When I see multiple vegetarian meal options, that's a signal that [...]

I use whether it's called something like 'vegetarian <blah>' (as a signal for the reverse).

I don't want a 'vegetarian lasagne', or 'vegetarian burger'.

A slightly different but similarly ridiculous one is 'vegetarian chili con carne', which means 'vegetarian chili with meat'.

We just call that chili sin carne. I gave it to my non-vegan family and they couldn't tell the difference. It's a really great dish, quick to make (faster and easier than with meat), healthy, high in protein and tasty.

I really don't get what the issue is here? There are also great bean/nut/mushroom burgers, that don't intend to taste like meat burgers.

Why can't vegan dishes use the same form factor as non-veg dishes? Does everything just have to be a bland plate of veggies for us?

I can't speak for the parent, but my feeling about it is that I don't like food pretending to be other food. So yes, serve me up a mushroom burger or a falafel burger, or a winter black bean and kale burger. But if the menu says simply "veggie burger" then there's a pretty good sign that it's an imitation and not made from whole food.

Now, none of this is implying that the veggie meal should be a "bland plate of veggies", rather it's that there are whole cuisines out there with delicious plant-based meals that have stood the test of time. If I'm eating vegetarian, I want one of those meals, not a meat meal with the meat swapped out.

I don't have a problem with the form of food itself, it's just that 'vegetarian burger' tells me only what it isn't, it could be (almost) anything!

I wouldn't buy a 'vegeterian <thing>' for the same reason I wouldn't buy a 'meat <thing>' - it just sounds crap and like you don't know what you've made you just knew you needed a vegetarian (resp. meat) option.

Yeah, that's the difference I don't think they really looked at. if the quality of the vegetarian food is better than the meat offerings, that would definitely help drive sales.

I don’t think it’s as obvious as you imply. If a menu goes from 80% meat to 20% meat, I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that either the same proportion of customers still chose a meat option; or that fewer customers ordered anything to begin with

If a menu switches from 80% meat to 20% meat, I (as a meat eater) would find somewhere else to eat. On the other hand vegetarians might start to come to this place. This place might sell more vegetarian food, yet nobody will have to convert to vegetarianism.

Similarly, this is about cafeterias. Sometimes food runs out. Hell, the meat option always runs out on airplanes until food gets to me. If they reduce the meat even more, no wonder that more people will eat vegetarian dishes. There's no meat left.

How is reducing your choices (for one meal per weekday) to 20% of the menu about anybody having "to convert to vegetarianism"?

That’s a good point. It would be neat to look at credit card data and infer how much of the customer base is new

> It would be neat to look at credit card data and infer how much of the customer base is new

The study did track people over time: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/09/24/1907207116

"Linking sales data to participants’ previous meal purchases revealed that the largest effects were found in the quartile of diners with the lowest prior levels of vegetarian meal selection."

So the heaviest meat eaters as a group not only did not stop going to these cafeterias, they willingly ate the vegetarian stuff.

Probably it is just laziness: if the next closest place to go for lunch is few miles away and your office cafeteria goes vegetarian then you simply find few least bad vege options and stick with them.

Before the intervention there were three meat options. The intervention reduced this to two meat options. How in the world is this "going vegetarian", forcing you to eat the least bad non-meat options?

I don't think that most people go "I want meat!", they just want something that sounds good, and that's what the results are reflecting. As eating meat is the default option, it's largely done without thought - you don't internalize "I eat meat", so it has no value if you do or don't in a particular meal.

Idk. I think most people read the menu and decide what sounds best, with meat options rated fairly high.

This research is pretty laughable. Made by one university, 3 locations - ages/demographics are not represented properly at all, the cultural environment is the same (one university). The ratio of veg doubled (0.25 to 0.5) while the ratio of meat fell 33 % (0.75 to 0.5). Also it doesnt at all mention the in volume of the eaters: What if the people who predominantly eat meat simply stopped going to the cafeterias as often since the food choice became less interesting ?

They also say the sales rose 40%-80% - why is the range so big (and is it even reliable then)?

Almost all studies about vegetarianism are born of an agenda to promote vegetarianism.

To a meat eater, studying the effects of eating an all vegetable diet is the same as studying the effects of walking backwards everywhere you go: it's not something we'd ever consider doing so we see no value in studying the effects of doing it. Furthermore, meat eaters do not care if other people don't want to eat meat. As such, most of the people conducting studies about vegetarianism are people who think eating meat is immoral. Their motivation to conduct the study is to stop other people from eating meat.

What blocks you from even considering the option?

It's a little strange to see a comment so boastful of a lack of intellectual curiosity on HN.

> What blocks you from even considering the option?

Human biology, perhaps? After all, haven't we evolved over thousands of years to be omnivores?

> It's a little strange to see a comment so boastful of a lack of intellectual curiosity on HN.

In other words, according to you, people who aren't interested in being vegetarian lack intellectual curiosity. It's a little strange to see a comment so boastful of intellectual intolerance on HN...

It's not necessarily the lack of interest, but instead the absolute choice to not consider it at all.

In terms of biology plenty of humans thrive on vegan and vegetarian diets.

I know plenty of vegetarians and a few vegans. While vegetarians do relative okay especially if they eat eggs, the vegans are forever talking about supplements and are fatigued and look like 60 by the time they are in their 40s.

You have no idea what you are talking about. Those are anecdotes and it sounds like you're biased.

There are plenty of athletes on a vegan diet. Sure we take B12, but plenty of omnivores are deficient as well. The only reason you get more of that is because it's supplemented to livestock.

My blood tests came back absolutely stellar and I eat whatever I want most days. When it comes to sports, I can easily compete with my omnivore friends.

Just describing what I see. I don't disagree that there may be a few people who do fine with it, in general, it is a huge overhead to make sure you are getting enough as a vegan. As a omnivore you can grab that steak and go.

> To a meat eater... it's not something we'd ever consider doing

That is absurd; many vegetarians are former meat-eaters.

Most food related research is this terribly done - and of course the research that supports strong ideologies with a growing follower base reach the top.

The livestock industry invests billions of dollars into heavily biased studies and lately I feel like you hear a lot more about health benefits of Keto than Veganism...

I think in general there is a lot less profit to be made with Veganism, it would surprise me if there was a stronger propaganda campaign then the one from the livestock industry.

If you can cite actual evidence to backup anything you've said then sure, I'd consider it more in my own arguments.

Ketogenic diet has very noticeable health benefits and where you won't easily be nutrient deficient. Veganism in contrast you hear stories regularly that over time some people develop health issues - is it because of the diet or something else underlying - we don't know, no one's studied it properly.

The growing counterpoint to veganism - a lot of which are people doing it for ideological reasons - from my observation is to counter the growing hate and intolerance against people who eat animals. Hunting and eating animals is a natural part of our evolution and to deny that is denying evolution; only psychopaths don't care about causing unnecessary suffering, everyone else would rather abolish factory farming where abuse is ripe and extreme. The carnivore diet is starting to trend, animal-only diet, and badly done research painting meat in a bad light is being debunked.

The place where there's no profit to be made, regarding rapid, healthy weight loss - which is water fasting; there's no profit motive to promote water fasting in the mainstream. Otherwise if there is profit to be made, and bad actors involved, then there will be propaganda being generated - and it will be the crowd who spread the content they produce, that content which doesn't cost a lot to produce - and is free to distribute especially when you design the results, the writing, to align with beliefs of members of a group.

Speaking from personal experience, I've been eating a lot more plant-based meals now that Beyond and Impossible Beef are available in grocery stores. I wouldn't say I'm completely vegetarian but I'm 60% there.

I was so excited about the Impossible Burger at Burger King. But I made the mistake of ordering it and a regular Whopper for comparison. I tried the Impossible Burger and thought wow, this is amazingly delicious. Then I took a bite of a Whopper and realized that the Impossible Burger will never be able to replace this. You could make the world's best vegetarian burger and some discount meat from the local dollar store would still taste better.

I have not had that experience. Impossible Whopper has been amazing to me.

Additionally, Burger King definitely doesn't make the best Impossible Burger (and not every Impossible Whopper tastes the same--like regular burgers, there's slight variation in quality depending on who is at the grill). I had it at a local restaurant, and it was one of the best burgers I've ever had.

the Impossible Burger will never be able to replace this

Impossible Foods is only 8 years old, and look how far they've already come.

Thts the thing I just can't compare vegetarian food with meat food they are two different things. Sometimes I will eat the meat burger sometimes a veggie pattie just depends on what I am in the mood for.

I think that's a very positive step. We don't need everyone to turn vegan to flight climate change. We only need everyone to consume significantly less meat.

You can describe this as a semi-vegetarianism or flexitarian diet.

Maybe you could make up a scientific classification for this: maybe pick some appropriate latin like "omnivorous"?</joke>

Or, you know, just a regular diet.

...regular to who?

I've been on a vegan diet the last 11 years. Starting while still living with my parents at 17, it forced me to try new foods and get better at cooking. Before I was mostly on a junk diet of fast food and frozen meals before changing my diet. I lost some weight and felt my energy levels increase. I mostly attribute this to having to skip on most fast food and sweets.

During the initial few years I ate a lot of meat and dairy replacements along with accidentally vegan junk food like oreos and the purple bag doritos. But around the 4 yr mark this stuff kinda lost its allure - too processed and artificial tasting (imo) to be foods I eat frequently.

The staples I landed on are just basic food: tofu, beans, rice, bread, noodles, vegetables, and fruit. I found not trying to reproduce American food improved my diet, was cheaper, and easier to share with people who don't follow a vegan diet. A vegetable curry is a lot easier to sell to someone you're sharing dinner with than something with a bunch of meat/dairy replacements. And it just tastes better.

I'll mix it up and have fake meat sometimes or indulge in junk like candy or chips. But my point is following a vegan diet is quite easy once you adjust your staples a bit. Also just go easy on yourself, if you're eating out the bread might have a little whey in it but I personally think that's okay. I'd rather just eat that than make it difficult for the people I'm dining with or to bug the server to go check. Eating 95% vegan for a lifetime is clearly better than burning out. This was a lesson that took a few years to learn as I was a pretty annoying vegan the first few years when I was in my teens/early 20's.

vegan for 25 years here. not a competition - just wanted to say it has gotten a lot easier over the years. when i first went vegan, not many people even knew what vegan meant. and many grocery stores carry items that i could previous only find at food co-ops (vegan cheeses, vegan ice creams, and so on).

also with apps and websites like Happy Cow (https://www.happycow.net) it is even easier to find vegan food on the go.

I always found vegan movement oddly close to religion. At my work, guy drives a car that has a custom VEGAN plate. I am not sure why I should know his dietary restrictions. I don't like liver. Do I add bumper indicating my dislike for liver consumption? Can someone rationalize it for me? Is it like sub-culture?

Veganism is often a moral/ethical stance rather than a dietary restriction. It's not a food preference, it's a worldview. So this can be an attempt to attract attention to the movement and normalize it.

Ok. That makes more sense to me now. Thank you for taking time to explain it. I was genuinely looking for information.

The first point is that for many, being vegan isn't a "dietary restriction", but a lifestyle based on a moral philosophy that we shouldn't harm sentient beings more than necessary. Eg, the Vegan Society's definition is (in part): "A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose."

There are vegans who really get into being VEGAN as an identity. Then there are the other ones who just do what we do and don't see a need to volunteer it or announce it at every possible chance. Some just live their lives, some participate in various aspects of animal rights activism. Either way, the VEGAN identity folks tend to be the ones that you will notice and remember. The rest, you pass by every day and probably never even know. (It's also worth mentioning that there are also a lot of people who are "vegan" as a fad diet (like "keto" or "paleo") but don't subscribe to the philosophy (vegans will usually try to make the distinction that those folks really just follow a plant-based diet), there are vegans who also get into weird things like raw food, alkaline water, fasting, etc. Like it or not, any large group of people will have fringes like this and they tend to be very vocal and attention seeking.)

Similarly, there are meat eaters who make BACON a huge part of their identity and like to remind you every chance they get how much they like it and "carnivore" dieters, etc.

It’s like any other modern movement, really. In the West, Christianity defined every aspect of life for over a thousand years. That has slowly eroded away over the last few centuries.

In the contemporary absence of a cohesive worldview, people look toward communities and philosophies like veganism, atheism, political affiliations, and so on for a sense of identity.

Veganism is not a dietary preference, it's a system of ethics. If there had been vanity plates in the 1910s there probably would have been some that said 5UFFR4G3, too.

Veganism extends to all modes of consumption, not just food--for example, vegans don't buy leather or animal-tested makeup. Side note, to reduce confusion like yours, some people use 'plant-based' specifically to describe vegan food. People are vegan, products are "suitable for vegans".

This one is apparently OK with eradicating rats: https://gothamist.com/news/revolting-dead-rat-soup-future-ny...

Shooting a bear that's charging at you isn't non-vegan, and by the same token, pest control isn't necessarily non-vegan either. This is the de facto definition of veganism:

> Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

And of course, what's possible and practicable is subjective.

I know some people who eat vegan to avoid a number life threatening allergies, so it's not always about ethics. It usually is, though.

Those people would accurately be called plant-based dieters. The point being that people getting vegan license plates are not allergy sufferers.

What people choose to identify with/as is pretty fundamental psychology and it's fascinating. There's only room in your mentality for so many categories of self-identification... it's gotta be something that distinguishes you from others. Everybody does it. You do it, I do it. He does it, in part, with his diet.

Yes and no. There certainly is what you describe. They are what many people think as vegan because it is the most vocal subset of vegans. There are many who eat vegan but don't proclaim it.

It is like my father-in-law who believes all gay people are loud and flamboyant. When in reality, he is dense and requires someone to hit him over the head to see it.

I've seen this out workplaces where a coworker A is vegan. A new coworker B notices and starts having a friendly chat with A about vegan food. Coworker B, who has been working and eating lunch with A for two years, is surprised to learn that A is vegan the whole time.

For some, it stems from values that differ from the norm, ie. antispecism, and values have something to do with religion. It allows for virtue signalling. But I don't see rituals associated with veganism.

i really think the way to getting millions to change their meat eating ways is one animal at a time. Don't tell a typical meat eater give up all meat. Tell them give up cows only. Then pigs. Then maybe stop there for a while. Exist on chicken and seafood and that would change the world. Just place cows and pigs in same category as dogs and cats and all of a sudden, wow, huge win for everyone.

BTW, pigs are approximately no worse than poultry (or even fresh fruit) for emissions per calorie. It's the ruminant s (like cow, sheep, goat, etc) that have methane emissions which screw things up.

Source: https://i0.wp.com/shrinkthatfootprint.com/wp-content/uploads...

This extends to individual meals too. Lots of meat eaters feel some desire to be vegetarian, but have a particular dish or two they “can’t live without.” The environmental and health impacts of even avoiding meat in 50% of meals would be enormous.

There’s no gold star for being a “perfect” vegetarian. Just do what you can.

i've been doing no cows and pigs since 2015 and the hardest part is the social aspect of going out with friends and someone announcing to the group, OH HEY THIS PERSON OVER HERE DOES NOT EAT 100% OF EVERYTHING. And all of a sudden you are the lame one that isn't "open to trying new things" or "fun and spontaneous" and will just pop anything from any dish into your mouth and say, oh wow, yum. And yet, the same people would freak out if cat or dog was on menu.

> i've been doing no cows and pigs since 2015 and the hardest part is the social aspect of going out with friends and someone announcing to the group, OH HEY THIS PERSON OVER HERE DOES NOT EAT 100% OF EVERYTHING

It sounds like you’re lacking some supportive and understanding friends :( Would they say the same if you had a food allergy?

The thing is, you don't need to be entirely vegetarian to have a big impact on your environmental footprint, etc.

Many meals can do well, or even be improved, by having 'much less meat'. After all, meat has been a sign of prosperity for a long time, and so it's been stuffed into many recipes that probably don't need it, or that need much less of it than curretly practiced.

'less-itarian', if you like.

There's actually a word for what you describe : flexitarian

I thought flexitarian is a vegetarian who sometimes eats meat. I think reducetarian is what the term is for eating less in general.

I thought flaxitarian was more part-time vegan. My vegetarian friend uses it when he changes his mind and wants some meat.

I went vegetarian about two years ago, and it's been way easier than I thought it would be. Plenty of meal variety when you draw ideas from across the globe.

The article doesn't go into enough details for us to evaluate the study.

Some possible scenarios:

They offered meat-free options that mirrored the meat-containing options. For example, they had beef lasagna and as an alternative vegetarian lasagna. If this dramatically increased the selection of vegetarian options it seems like a good indicator that there was a preference for meat free options that wasn't being satisfied.

They offered meat-free lasagna as an additional option, independent of the other available choices (so no 'regular' lasagna was offered at the same time). If this increased selection of vegetarian options, it tells us absolutely nothing. It's quite possible that many people 'felt like lasagna' that day, and that was that. To phrase this scenario another way: they could increase the selection of vegetarian options to 100% by eliminating all meat from the cafeteria, but this wouldn't demonstrate any preference for vegetarian by the customers.

Since whoever wrote this article didn't mention the methodology, my guess is that the methodology is more like my second scenario, which is to say that it was not a meaningful study but they don't want to say that because they are pushing an agenda. Either that or it's incompetence, I think Hanlon's Razor attaches at this point.

30 year vegetarian here: I'd say in the UK we've had good vegetarian options for maybe 10 years. Before that it was "have a crappy tomato sauce with pasta" as a terrible substitute for whatever the fleshies were eating. Now, pretty much everywhere in the UK has reasonable non-meat options.

What has also happened though is that low end food places - pubs, cafes, other "beige food" eateries [burgers, chips, you know, beige] - have become extraordinarily more expensive, whereas really great places have only incrementally increased prices. So you'd probably pay £15 for a crappy fish and chips in a pub, but say £18 for a really great dish in a restaurant. This has been a bit of a leveller - but also alongside this you find exponentially better veggie food in a good restaurant, whereas pubs are all still a bit "meat and two veg"...

Not sure how good the study is but I wouldn't find it surprising.

I can understand how people find it hard to stay vegetarian when e.g. the only vegetarian main on a restaurant menu is risotto (this happens comically often!).

Meat eaters tend to say "what would you even eat?!" because they're used to seeing menus with 90% meat options.

I'm kind of a food snob. I don't eat burgers. They're horrible. I don't eat hotdogs. They're horrible.

Reading this article tempts me to want to say "Newsflash: Tasty food sells!" but I'm sure that would be flagged to death as low content snark. Also, it's possibly stupid saying anything at all because people who eat stuff like burgers and hot dogs will get all mad when you give your honest opinion that it isn't exactly gourmet health food.

I often go with, say, French fries and apple pie because it's the least worst option on a burger-based menu. When they offer chicken as an alternative to burgers, it's typically also deep fried etc. It's only very recently that some burger joints genuinely offer tasty, healthy alternatives to their bland and unhealthy ground beef patty on nasty circular white bread staple food item.

> I'm sure that would be flagged to death as low content snark. Also, it's possibly stupid saying anything at all because people who eat stuff like burgers and hot dogs will get all mad when you give your honest opinion that it isn't exactly gourmet health food.

Tastes differ between people. I eat burgers and hotdogs because they're tasty, and their tastiness for me is inversely proportional to the amount of vegetables you put into them. I rarely eat out, but if I want to grab a hotdog, I only do so in places where I can get a bun, sausage, ketchup and mustard, and exactly zero of all the other dressings.

And from my POV, vegetables and fruits tend to ruin the taste of everything. I just don't like them, period. I accept some in appropriate context - common mushrooms, onions and peppers when the food is salty, carrots and apples and maaaaybe tomatoes on the sweet end.

I can't tell you why I am like this, though I am very curious about what shapes one's tastes. I eat plenty of healthy stuff, but I'd love to make myself somehow like it, - all I've managed so far is to not feel completely miserable every time I eat a healthy meal.

I also used to feel largely this way, but it turns out my parents just weren't good at cooking tasty vegetables.

I encourage you to seek out an adventure by trying a vegetarian restaurant where the chefs know how to cook veggies. Truly breathtaking the difference in experience.

Thank you. I'll try. FWIW, my wife recently started experimenting with vegetarian recipes and so far, results are much tastier than I expected.

I'm also quite curious, because palak paneer and other vegetarian indian dishes are awesome, veggies or not, and you didn't specify these sorts of options when you specify disliking vegetables in any form. If you hate tomatoes, does that mean you despise chili, or pasta? Are curries terrible? Is an apple pie better off with just shortbread?

> and you didn't specify these sorts of options when you specify disliking vegetables in any form

I haven't had a chance or inclination to eat much Indian food yet. I'm going to try, at some point.

> If you hate tomatoes, does that mean you despise chili, or pasta?

Not really. Here's the thing: it all depends on the processing, and usually the more processing was involved, the better I like the end result. So e.g. I don't like raw tomatoes, e.g. in a sandwich or on a pizza. But I do like tomato soup and tomato sauces, and I double-plus love ketchup (the commercial kind). Similarly for other kinds of vegetables and fruits. I like very few of them "standalone" - particular few kinds of apples, carrots, cucumbers and bananas. But for instance, I don't want to see any of the four anywhere near bread.

Maybe one day I'll try and note this down to see if I can find connections.

Some thoughts:

I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. Learning to eat vegetarian meals was a long process.

I grew up in Georgia and it's a long ways from Hawaii. All I knew of pineapple was canned pineapple. For probably the first thirty years of my life, I had a terrible opinion of pineapple.

Then I lived on the West Coast, a lot closer to Hawaii, where fresh pineapple was readily available most of the year at not crazy prices. I finally tried fresh pineapple that hadn't been rotting in transit for weeks and weeks and absolutely loved it.

Fruits and vegetables need to be fresh. There is an art to selecting them. People with a meat-centric diet seem to often not really know how to cook them well.

Overcooked veggies lose a lot of their flavor and nutritional value. Undercooked vegetables can be hard to digest or have other issues.

I have a mild tomato allergy. I can eat pizza and ketchup. I react poorly to raw tomatoes.

It's not obvious I'm allergic because I need to keep eating tomatoes regularly over several days before I get hives. But I do need to limit tomatoes and the more processed, the better.

Growing conditions, harvesting methods, storage conditions and on and on can impact taste for fruits and vegetables.

I would recommend then trying roasted vegetables or veggie soups or sauces. Disliking raw carrots by themselves is very different from disliking roasted carrots and carrot soup and carrots in a curry and carrots in a dumpling and carrot cake, all of which drastically change the carrot taste and texture. It's a bit like saying that "i don't like any sort of pork product at all, as I've had unflavored pulled pork and didn't like it".

Missing is how meat-free options will generate new business.

I'm not a vegetarian but I am the sort of person who would never eat a Whopper b/c it's garbage meat. Hadn't eaten in BK for probably a decade.

I ate an Impossible Whopper and I'm gonna be eating BK a lot more often.

I ate an Impossible Whopper and I'm gonna be eating BK a lot more often.

This is the core reason why Impossible Foods is a darling right now. The big fast food chains have been losing customers for years due to concerns over health and obesity. Right now there seems to be a public perception that vegetarian/vegan foods are healthier than meat/dairy based foods. Big fast food is taking advantage of this perception at the moment and reaping the rewards.

They aren't really healthier though. There's still loads of fat, carbs, and sodium in combinations that are highly rewarding relative to their caloric content and nutrition level. High reward, low satiety food and its interaction with the brain and fat cells, moderated by specific signalling hormones, comprise an extremely compelling theory [1] for the main cause of the obesity epidemic.

[1] https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/04/25/book-review-the-hungry...

I won't eat at BK because they used a shrink ray on all their sandwiches. They also ruined American Tim Horton's menu.

I think it is more difficult to prepare good tasting vegetarian food, based on my experience also cooking with meat a couple of times a week.

In any case I am happy that more people are getting the chance to eat more food that they prefer.

I like to stay out of any organic food, vegetarian food, etc., food arguments. People should have the freedom to buy and eat the types of food they like.

I worry a little about keeping this freedom since the single political party in the USA the republicrats (also referred to as the Demopublicans) in servicing their main constituency (I am obviously talking about corporations), might try to curtail things like accurate packaging labels, etc. if that is what their corporate constituents want.

Seems like the effect size for price was the biggest - people were getting vegetarian meals more when they cost less.

From the appendix (page 6) here: https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/suppl/2019/09/25/190720711...

Would someone who is a vegan answer this question I have and I mean no offense by it.

Why do you want to eat vegetables that are fake meat or made to taste like meat ?

It seems silly to me.

I like the taste of meat, I like the taste of eggs, texture of yogurt, I like the taste of practically all foods. I do not like the fact that cow, chicken, pig, dog, have to die for my tastebuds to feel nice.

Given that I like the tastes I like and do not want to give them up, I'll rather be calm and eat something that tastes like meat but there's no death of an animal.

That's it.

Could I live without veggie sausages, bruger patties? Yep. But why not eat them when they are available.

What I do not understand is the exclusivity of someone who eats meat. If people today are such foodies, what is wrong with ordering a vegan meal once? Or buying vegan meat replacements, to try them and see how they taste? Vegan mayo?

Why not exploit the luxury of the modern world and enjoy all that engineered food, even if you're vegan or not?

Thank you for the answer.

Philosophically I understand you dont want to contribute to the death of an animal, that said, birth causes death.

I am of the opinion folks should eat what they want and only worry about what they eat. Letting others eat what they want.

Personally I don't do well on veggies. I lose energy and feel lethargic not to mention carbs make me fat.

> I do not like the fact that cow, chicken, pig, dog, have to die for my tastebuds to feel nice.

Not only do they have to die, they also have to live. If everyone went vegan, those animals would never have existed.

If the standards of living for the average farm animal were really good, would that be worse than them having never existed?

> Not only do they have to die, they also have to live. If everyone went vegan, those animals would never have existed.

In the same way, you could justify birthing a human into slavery, birthing a dog for dog fighting, birthing a bull for bullfighting etc. - it's not a good reason.

There's animals related to farm bred cows, pigs and chickens in the wild as well. You could use the land that's used for animal agriculture to let wild animals thrive, instead of birthing animals into a miserable life.

> If the standards of living for the average farm animal were really good, would that be worse than them having never existed?

I don't think there's enough land for this to ever be feasible and feed everyone that wants to eat meat.

You should also consider that farm animals are killed within around 20% or less into their natural lifespan so it's not like you'd be giving them much time to experience a great life. Also, for economical reasons, you'd probably still have to kill e.g. males from egg laying hens within a day or two, and male dairy calves within weeks.

> In the same way, you could justify birthing a human into slavery, birthing a dog for dog fighting, birthing a bull for bullfighting etc. - it's not a good reason.

You misread. The premise is that they will live a good life, whatever that means for the species in question.

> There's animals related to farm bred cows, pigs and chickens in the wild as well. You could use the land that's used for animal agriculture to let wild animals thrive, instead of birthing animals into a miserable life.

Life in nature is rather miserable. I'm talking about better life than nature would afford. Would it be better for those lives to have existed, or not?

It's a philosophical question, there's no "correct" answer.

I would argue that you haven't ever really spent much time in nature.

Example : Wolves and coyotes thrive on killing babies, nature is much more harsh than any farm I have seen.

Wolves and coyotes don't have supermarkets. We have a choice to not act like wild animals.

Animals also murder their own kind, can be cannibalistic and worse. Is it okay to do those things too because they happen in nature?

We shouldn't (and don't) based our morals and behaviours on wild animals.

Where do you think supermarkets get food ?

This is the disconnect so many people have.

The point was we can live long and healthy lives by going to the supermarket and buying non-meat food. We can survive now without making animals needlessly suffer (including paying others to kill animals on our behalf).

Some carnivorous wild animals have no choice but to hunt and eat prey alive to survive. We have a choice.

I choose to eat animals. You choose to eat plants.

Question is why do you want plants to taste like animals and it was answered. Some folks don’t like killing.

I don’t mind taking an animals life to eat. Therein lies the difference

> I don’t mind taking an animals life to eat. Therein lies the difference

Can I ask if you'd be okay with killing all the animals you eat yourself?

If you wouldn't be prepared to do the killing yourself, why?

Yes. I grew up on a farm. I used to hunt. I can raise slaughter clean and process animals.

I have always been close to my food source and I think that is why I find this disconnect people have interesting.

My wife can’t eat out of the garden because she sees the shit on the plants and the bugs that crawl all over them. She doesn’t have a problem with store veggies though :)

So because nature does it, we should do it too?

You are a part of nature.

I can't answer for everyone, but in the interest of continuing conversation my answer to your question in the last sentence would yes.

It would be better for an animal to have never existed than to have its entire existence be measured by the utility of killing it and butchering it for people to eat.

All life leads to death, in nature or captivity. Pretty much any animal will be eaten upon death, by predators, scavengers, or microbes. Sometimes it will be killed to be eaten. Death follows wild animals at every step.

Captive animals can live better lives than wild animals. They can be treated well. That's my premise.

You can have the position that either such life is just meaningless suffering and that its non-existence is better than its existence.

But the purpose of a wild animal is not to be killed and eaten. I’m not convinced you could accurately describe in words what the purpose of a wild animal is. However, it is easy to describe what the purpose of beef cattle. It is to be killed and be eaten by the same animal who has bred them to have high muscle content and caged them.

“Captive” animals is entirely too broad a class. Pets have great lives much of the time. I am talking about animals bred and raised for human consumption only, and I do believe those lives are meaningless suffering based on the goal of that life. Extending the argument, if a person were birthed solely to be an organ farm for a wealthy individual, that would also be meaningless suffering even if they were treated “well” for most of their life.

Just my opinion. Thanks for discussing!

> But the purpose of a wild animal is not to be killed and eaten. I’m not convinced you could accurately describe in words what the purpose of a wild animal is.

A wild animal doesn't have a purpose. It just is. It will die and it will get eaten anyway.

> However, it is easy to describe what the purpose of beef cattle. It is to be killed and be eaten by the same animal who has bred them to have high muscle content and caged them.

Fair enough.

> I am talking about animals bred and raised for human consumption only, and I do believe those lives are meaningless suffering based on the goal of that life.

Feeding some other being isn't entirely meaningless. Also, if the animal was living the best life it could live, is it still suffering? If so, then all life is suffering.

> Extending the argument, if a person were birthed solely to be an organ farm for a wealthy individual, that would also be meaningless suffering even if they were treated “well” for most of their life.

That's the plot of "The Island". Obviously, it sounds morally repulsive, but from the perspective of such a life lived subjectively, it's better than most lives lived throughout human history.

Could ask the same about humans. Do you really think it's better to give a kid a good life and then off them at age 10 because something else thinks they taste good? Seems like a pretty simple ethical question: no.

You could extend this anywhere. Pussy feels great. Rape doesn't kill anyone. We could keep some women around and give them great lives as sex slaves. Surely nonexistance is be worse than that! I could even give my harem a much better life than any animal can experience.

> Do you really think it's better to give a kid a good life and then off them at age 10 because something else thinks they taste good? Seems like a pretty simple ethical question: no.

A more appropriate question would be, would you rather live a life in the wild and die from starvation, from a simple infection, or from being mauled to death? Or, would you rather have full accommodation for your entire life, but you get killed at age 35? Or, would you rather not exist at all?

I don't think that question is as simple as you make it sound.

> We could keep some women around and give them great lives as sex slaves.

"Great lives as sex slaves" sounds a bit oxymoronic, doesn't it?

> I could even give my harem a much better life than any animal can experience.

If you can afford it, you can have a harem right now without enslaving anybody, because some women would rather be a prostitute than whatever the alternative is.

The only meat I'd eat is from an animal, living in excellent conditions, dying of old age. If the species was ever bred, it must have been bred exclusively for health and fitness, not for higher yield of flesh or milk. If it was not bred, the reproduction should have no human intervention.

Everything else life related should not have human intervention, if it does not improve upon the quality of life.

Although, this view is pretty idyllic and probably unattainable or not profitable.

> Although, this view is pretty idyllic and probably unattainable or not profitable.

It's on the extreme end, but there is a spectrum of how we allow animals to be raised. At the one end, even those with the lowest incomes can afford meat, but conditions are bad. At the other end, only the wealthy can afford meat, but conditions can be good. That's the trade-off.

Profit is just markup, it can be made either way.

I like the taste of meat but I don't like how is it made. So if I can get a sensible substitute which hasn't been made killing animals, I'll eat it.

I'm not all day eating substitutes, as some of them are extremely processed, and also, I like vegetables and legumes, but I'll eat a Beyond burger or some other fake meat every once in a while.

You can think about it as in "I like my cell phone but I rather find something made with less suffering, so I'll buy a fairphone or something like that"

Why not? One might have ethical issues with eating meat but enjoy the taste.

I generally avoid fake meat but plenty of people don't eat meat for religious or moral reasons. They might still want something meat-like, though, and fake meat provides that.

I am curious, and also don't mean any offense by it: why is this surprising or even silly to you? Has it been your believe so far that a major driver behind avoiding meet is the taste or texture?

The thing I find silly is if you dont like eating animals or causing their death why eat fake animal meat ?

It's like abstaining from sex by using a sex doll in my mind.

> The thing I find silly is if you dont like eating animals or causing their death why eat fake animal meat ?

Because... fake animal meat does not cause animals to die?

People somehow get really hung up on this fake meat thing, and at the same time often accuse vegetarians or vegans of policing their food choices. Why don't you just accept that if dozens of people in this thread post that they like the taste or texture of the "fake" product, then that means that they like the taste or texture of the "fake" product, and there is nothing more for you to understand?

(Not a vegetarian myself, but I tend to only eat meat at special occasions. I like the taste and texture of some meat replacement products. Many others are atrociously bad.)

> It's like abstaining from sex by using a sex doll in my mind.

That comparison is only valid if having sex causes the death of your partner. And if you are someone who tends to murder their sex partners, then yes, it would be very very good if you switched to sex dolls.

i'm not sure this argument holds up either - if you believed having sex is inherently cruel to the person you're having sex with, but you still enjoy sex, why is using a sex doll not a reasonable solution?

Seems like if you think an act is cruel to be honest to yourself you simply shouldn’t do it.

I would feel hypocritical were I to do this.

Like a lot of Americans, I grew up eating lots of hamburgers and hot dogs, and while I think vegetables are delicious in their own right and don't need to imitate meat, sometimes I just want a burger. And sometimes I just want a junk food fast food burger. That new impossible whopper at Burger King is really good. I don't think I'm alone in occasionally wanting the familiarity of the food you used to eat. Beyond Meat/Impossible satisfy that.

(I'm vegetarian, not vegan, fwiw)

I am vegan for half a year. Before that I ate 500+ gr of meat on most day (classic bodybuilding chicken breasts, whey, eggs, vegetables, oats, rice, etc. "clean diet"...). When I started on the vegan diet I was afraid that it would not be tasteful and will be bland and boring. But 6 months on and I am still amazed by how with very little imagination in the kitchen I come out with very very tasteful recepies and dishes which are healthy and are 95% whole food based with minimal processing by myself. Now, regarding processed vege-meat things like beyond burger.. I bought it to use it only for big barbeques when there are alot of people. Not to avoid vegan talk, if anybody is interested I am open to talk about it, but it is just so much easier for barbeques. I do prepare homemade vege burgers at home, but they need greater care in handling (can crumble more easily) so I use beyond for only this purpose.

> Why do you want to eat vegetables that are fake meat or made to taste like meat ?

Why do people on diets eat low calorie desserts?

The same way people go on diets because they want to lose weight but not to avoid the taste of food they like, people go vegan because of environmental and animal cruelty reasons but not to avoid the taste of food they like.

Animal cruelty is an issue without eating meat being involved.

That said, when you raise a cow and you know you are going to eat it most folks aren't so cruel. Kosher meats ( i have heard this ) are harvested with ethical methods.

I think many people are too far removed from the process of how food is created.

How do you ethically and without cruelty keep then kill an animal that doesn't want to die usually 20% or less into its natural life span?

> That said, when you raise a cow and you know you are going to eat it most folks aren't so cruel. Kosher meats ( i have heard this ) are harvested with ethical methods.


> For meat to be Kosher, the animal must be slaughtered in a particular way, so the Rabbi in a Kosher abattoir is a specially trained religious slaughterer. A very sharp knife is used to cut the oesophagus, the trachea, carotid arteries and jugular veins in one smooth action. There must be no pause during the action nor excessive pressure on the blade. Failure to meet these specific requirements renders the animal unkosher.

If that's correct, how is that not cruel? Animals don't want to die.

>If that's correct, how is that not cruel? Animals don't want to die

The animal will die regardless. The Native Americans would honor the animal and thank its spirit for the life force.

To me that seems quite ethical.

> The animal will die regardless.

You don't have to kill the animal or breed animals to be killed. You're choosing for that to happen.

> The Native Americans would honor the animal and thank its spirit for the life force.

Why does that make killing something that doesn't want to be killed okay? Would that making killing a dog or human okay if you thanked their spirit after?

Some places do eat dogs. Animals are not humans and elevating them to that status is why you have ethical problems

is killing not cruel? is it practical for everyone to raise their own cow?

kosher is no more ethical: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp8B4vSd6h0

(long time meat eater turned vegetarian)

It's pretty simple - I really enjoy fake meat for the taste, texture and protein. It also lets me go out to places that would traditionally only have meat options like a burger joint.

SO likes it because she's religiously vegetarian but can incorporate more protein into her diet.

Personally, I miss the taste of meat sometimes, although that's happening less often these days. And meat tasting vegan dishes satisfy that need without the guilt that comes with killing an animal or destroying the planet.

I eat them more as an affordance to other people. They're rarely my first choice, but if I'm eating with someone else and they've cooked or we're in a non-vegan restaurant then that might be my only available option.

Another reason is junk food. It's definitely harder to eat unhealthy food being a vegan, but sometimes you want to. I know places where I can go and eat a vegan burger for example, the type that is really greasy and slimy and disgusting. I don't go there often, but if I get that urge then it's nice to know that I can.

Most meat flavour come from sauces. Your burger mostly tastes of ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickles, and fried onions.

Your steak is slathered in mushroom sauce, your fish is covered in batter or white wine, and your chicken is coated with 11 different herbs and spices.

You're eating meat, but you're tasting condiments.

I like veggie sausages because they fit in hot-dog buns. And burgers because they fit in burger buns. I wouldn't say the attraction is that they taste of "meat" - they're just convenient form factors.

There's some truth to that, but it depends.

Properly prepared meat/fish often has great own taste. It depends on (the part of) the animal, of course. You need the right amount of oil (or natural fat) and salt to bring out the flavor. Unfortunately, lots of people prefer boneless, skinless and fat-trimmed meat/fish.

I like sushi and steak tartar.

My steaks typically have a bit of himalayan salt and a touch of pepper. I like the flavor of meat.

Sauces and whatnot are used to hide the poor meat quality.

Not a vegan, but the most common reasons I have heard cited for plant based foods are ethics of eating animals, the environmental impacts of meat production, and health concerns of meat consumption.

I’m sure even vegetarians/vegans enjoy the taste of meat. But they represent a small market. How can plant based food companies hope to get omnivores to buy their product? Making it similar in taste, texture, appearance seems to be the bet they’re taking.

It's like drinking a Coke zero, isn't it?

It's not universal! Some people don't how it tastes because it reminds them of real meat and that grosses them out. This is a wider topic of discussion in the vegan/vegetarian community--what even are the ethics of fake meat in the first place (see Summer Burton's very recent piece about this in Buzzfeed: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/summeranne/morality-did...)?

Personally, I just really wanted to eat burgers and bratwurst again while maintaining my dietary choices (for moral and health reasons) but didn't like any of the previous widely available vegan alternatives. I find the seitan/soy/tvp options gross and black bean burgers never did it for me. I had to get over the taste and texture of the Beyond products making my brain and stomach feel like I was eating meat, but now I have a meal with them once every few weeks when I have the craving.

Probably because they like meat but think it's unethical to eat.

The hardest part is if you’re trying to lose weight and be vegetarian, especially if you don’t eat eggs. (Milk okay, Indian vegetarian)

What I call the “protein costs” are just too high, that is, how much does a gram of protein cost me in terms of a gram of carbs or grams of fat.

Lean Meat has almost almost no protein cost (that is it is almost pure protein with no fat and no carbs...)

I’m glad to see this study. A high end steakhouse recently opened in Boulder and I got a chance to tour the place while it was under construction with the owner. He said for all of Boulder’s hippie food, people demand meat. There may be some truth to that, but like this study shows, people need the option realistically before you can determine that.

> Other variables that influenced dining choices included the relative prices of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, and the outdoor temperature.

I wonder what the temperature correlation was — do hotter or colder temps lead to more vegetarian consumption?

A friend was in China (Being and Shanghai) and Japan (Tokyo) very recently and complained about the lack of vegetarian options. In fact one of the participants in the journey was forced to eat meat because there were no other options.

I can't speak for the other cities, but I found Beijing great for vegetarians. See my culinary travels at https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2017/05/a-vegetarian-in-beijing/

Even the restaurants which weren't purely veggie had lots of options.

No tofu?

> “wild mushroom, roasted butternut squash and sun blushed tomato risotto with parmesan”

I'll probabbly be a hold out when it comes to most of that, at least as far as ONLY eating that goes.

I'd be happy to eat a meat substitute that tastes like meat.

The issue that I have with vegetarian food is that it is usually double to triple the price of a normal meal with meat. I get it, it's trendy. In India it's the opposite, vegetarian food costs less.

I'm not vegetarian, but in my previous job my favorite nearby restaurant for lunch time was a vegetarian one. The food tasted incredibly good and it wouldn't make me drowsy during the afternoon.

This just in, people eat more vegetables when there are actual vegetables on offer. When vegetables are removed, surprisingly people eat less vegetables!

It's a fad.

The first vegetarian meal I've had where I didn't feel hungry afterwards was in an Indian vegetarian restaurant. It also tasted amazingly good.

Parts of India are vegetarian, so they have had plenty of time to refine the offering and see what works together.

Vegetarian Indian here, I agree. Growing up watching American cartoons I always used to wonder why the kids are shown not to like vegetables. Its only when I moved here (US) and saw how vegetables are served, I could empathize with the cartoon character kids.

There are parts of India which are almost entirely vegetarian. So much so that, it has prompted giants like pizza hut and subway to open vegetarian only restaurants.


And might I add, the food is delicious.

I'll always go for a paneer-based curry over a meat-based one, and I say that as a big meat eater. That stuff is divine.

I am a meat eater. But growing up in India eating meat was rare (it was too expensive) and even in our house, vegetarian food was the norm. Being vegetarian in the US is not that hard, especially in a place like Seattle, but in India, it’s a non-event. Vegan food on the other hand would be hard.

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