Thursday, 17 August 2017

Why I Eat Meat Replacements as a Vegan.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like vegan meat replacements can cause a little contention. I’ve heard many a comment (usually from those that aren’t vegan) wondering why one might eat them if you’re so against eating meat, along with why companies feel the need to not only recreate meat, but then name it after meat too (the latter of which I think is down to marketing and wanting to make it seem like a familiar product).

I did put this question out to the Twitterverse and got some mixed responses. Lots of people said they enjoy them as part of their diet, although some prefer to choose whole food options and eat meat replacements occasionally. Some people said that although they might eat them occasionally they find their “meatiness” somewhat uncomfortable and prefer to give them a slightly wider birth. And honestly, I get all those opinions and no one is right or wrong in their choice. I thought that today I’d start a little conversation here on the blog about why I personally choose to eat meat replacements and what my overall thoughts are on them.

Sorry, not sorry if this photo makes you feel uncomfortable. This beautiful creature is the reality of the meat and dairy industry. If you choose meat, this beautiful creature is what could be on your plate.

Admittedly, when I first transitioned to being veggie and then vegan, I didn’t eat that much in the way of meat replacements, and I remember thinking “why would I eat something that’s intentionally pretending to be meat when I’m so against eating meat”. I wonder now whether it was maybe too close to the giant meat habit that I was breaking (I did go totally cold turkey into vegetarianism overnight and although I hate to admit it – I was a massive carnivore). But back then I just didn’t feel the need to eat them, and so I didn’t.

However, as time has gone on I have found myself eating more meat replacement products. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t eat them with every meal (which is what I used to do with meat), but I maybe eat them 2-3 times per week depending on a) how much time I have, b) how organised I’ve been with my food shopping and c) what I’m fancying on the day.

For me, meat replacement products are a massive convenience. They can make whipping up a quick meal really easy for when I’m in a time pinch or not really in the mood to cook. I had 25 years of meat being the star of the show, and so for me it’s a bit of a fall back, default setting. I know I can always stick some Linda McCartney sausages or a Fry’s burger in the oven and have something tasty with minimal effort – and damn, they’re so tasty. Ok, that’s not the most nutritious meal, but you know, I’m generally eating a far healthier diet as a vegan than I did as an omnivore so I’m personally happy to have the odd slightly less nutritious meal. Life’s about balance after all.

One thing I do think meat replacement products are great for is supporting the transitioning veggie or vegan. Using meat replacement products, I am able to make the majority of the meals that I really enjoyed as a meat eater – sausage casserole, roast dinner, meaty stir fry. All these meals are possible (and in my opinion, don’t taste much different) with the use of meat replacements. They’re also great if you eat meat, but are trying to look at reducing your intake. There as so many wonderful veggie/vegan recipes out there that don’t require a meat replacement and don’t miss that “meaty” component to the meal, but for ease, I think it’s great to have the option of a substitute.

I think as time has gone on, I’ve had more opportunity to try different meat replacement products and realised that I do quite enjoy the taste of them. I quite enjoyed the taste of meat too and I certainly didn’t go vegan because I didn’t enjoy meat, I really did enjoy meat. I just didn’t enjoy the reality that what was on my place was once a living being and it no longer had a life because I’d chosen to eat it.

 I think many people who aren’t vegan see the vegan lifestyle and diet as being very restrictive, but I don’t like to look at it that way. I’m a glass half full kinda gal, and so I like to see all the possibilities -  all the foods that I choose to still eat, which is a far larger group than the foods I choose not to eat. And meat replacements just make that group of foods I choose to eat that bit bigger and could make veganism feel that bit less restrictive to someone on the outside looking in.

I’d love to live in a world where animals aren’t killed for us to eat. Where people see the reality of the cruelty involved in animal agriculture and choose compassion over something that tastes good in the moment. If meat replacements help us on our way there and provide someone with an option to make a positive change for the animals, the planet and themselves, then I am ALL FOR THAT.

And just in case you’re wondering, here’s a little list of some of my favourite, vegan friendly meat replacement products.

Linda McCartney Sausages
These are my absolute staple, I always buy in bulk and have them on hand. I actually start to break out in a cold sweat if I see my stash getting low. I personally prefer the original to the red onion and rosemary and chorizo varieties. Perfect in a sausage butty or my ultimate comfort food, sausage casserole. FYI the sausage rolls are also pretty heavenly.

Vbites Meat-Free Duck Pieces
I much prefer the Vbites mock duck to the LM shredded version as it’s bigger chunks and personally I think it tastes nicer. I used to be a big lover of duck, especially from the Chinese takeaway and I can honestly say that the taste and texture of this is so similar – it’s like wizardry. Whack it in a stir fry or in a spring roll and you are on your way to food heaven.

Fry’s Burgers, Escalopes and Meaty Strips
I’ve tried lots of the Fry’s products (burgers, escalopes, schnitzels, strips) and honestly, I like them all. The burgers are succulent and juicy and taste amazing. The escalopes, chicken style burgers and schnitzels make for an excellent katsu curry addition a la Wagamamas, and their meaty strips pimp up many a dish including pastas and stir frys.

Seitan
I’ve only ever made my own seitan, so I can’t compare to shop bought, but seitan is pretty easy to make and great to have on hand. It’s made from wheat gluten and so is high in protein and makes for a wonderful stroganoff or even a donner style kebab. With seitan it’s all about the flavourings, and if you’re making it yourself you have full creative control of how you want it to taste.

Let's start a conversation:
I'd love to know your thoughts on vegan meat replacement products - are they a yay or a nay for you? Also, if you do choose to eat them, what are your recommendations? I'm always looking for new things to try so send them over either in the comments below or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan.

2 comments:

  1. Great post! I personally adore fake meat and eat it most days. I'd consider myself quite a faux-meat-foodie and get really excited when I see new "meats" available.
    My partner and I are even planning a trip to London just to try the new vegan friend chicken place.
    I see absolutely nothing wrong with this. I have nothing against the taste of meat, it's what meat is that's my issue.
    I became veggie when I was 13 (almost 17 years ago. Yikes.) Back then I was mega fussy and didn't really say vegetables so meat substitutes helped me a lot.
    Even now when friends tell me they want to go veggie I always recommend faux meat. As you said, they are a fab transitioning tool and a good source of low fat protein too.
    Whether people chose to eat it or not then that's their choice but don't judge vegetarians and vegans who do. At the end of the day, they are living a more ethical lifestyle than the omnivores so let it be :)

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  2. I agree with you - I think meat replacements are a great way for people who are transitioning to a meat-free diet or want to cut down to substitute more familiar ingredients. I'm very partial to Linda McCartney sausage rolls and Quorn's fried chicken bites because I can satisfy any cravings without straying from a vegetarian diet. I can see why others might not be so comfortable eating them though. Love this post! xx

    Toasty

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Jordan xx