A recent article in Melbourne’s Herald Sun claimed that in a blind test, 90% of participants couldn’t tell the difference between tofu and meat. Another article, from The Independent, stated that 3 in 5 adults eat mock meat products. So what’s so great about this increasingly popular meat-free industry?
Some question why a vegetarian would eat faux meat, especially as it’s imitating the very thing they do not eat, for whatever reason. I’m sure many vegos have different opinions on this so I can only speak for myself.
Personally I think mock meat is great. Throughout this blog I occasionally mention different products, shops and restaurants that serve or specialise in meat-free products, in all its various forms. Here’s how it is for me:
I didn’t stop eating meat because of the taste or texture. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy the flavour and it wasn’t about the cost (although I DID notice a reduced grocery bill after I stopped buying it). After reading a bit about the animal farming industry and the unfortunate treatment some of the animals are subjected to, I chose to stop eating meat because I didn’t feel right eating something that had been through unnecessary pain. Animals have feelings too!
So for me, the decision was an easy one. It was an ethical choice and a very personal one. That being said, I do not judge those who do eat meat! It’s like religion – you can graciously respect what another person believes but that doesn’t mean you should try and convert them.
It’s important to note that while there are some producers who are reportedly mistreating the animals they raise for the food industry, there are many producers who DO care and ensure they are doing the right thing. If I wasn’t a vegetarian, those are the businesses I would support.
I quite enjoy the versatility of faux meat products. The growing number of brands and products available (like vegie mince) make it really easy to cook dishes that are traditionally meat based. So as some would think, being a vegetarian doesn’t necessarily mean you miss out on anything.
Asian cuisine does mock meat really well. There are some fantastic restaurants that specialise in faux meat, like The Green Gourmet (they have restaurants in Newtown and Crows Nest). My recent visit to Cabramatta was a haven for mock meat – both in the restaurants and grocery stores.
If you’re looking to have a few meat free dishes each week (like Meat Free Monday), experiment with mock meats, or you just want to try them out of curiosity, my advice is to get out there and try as many as you can! It’s really a case of trial and error and soon enough you’ll work out which ones you enjoy.
Some of the brands I like are Lamyong, Linda McCartney Meat Free Foods, Quorn, Fry’s Vegetarian, Sanitarium Vegie Delights (above is a snap of a few things I had at home). Supermarket chains are starting to stock some of these brands, although I’ve found that products differ from store to store so if you’re after a specific product, it can be a lucky dip.
Most Asian markets will have a good supply of mock meats – you just need to spend time reading the labels as they aren’t all in English. Australian vego friendly sites like The Cruelty Free Shop and Vegan Online are good for shopping online if you want your items delivered. Also keep an eye out for vego grocery stores like Just Green in Cabramatta and Vegan’s Choice Grocery (next door to Green Gourmet) in Newtown.
Have you tried any meatless products? What do you think of them?