Firstly, let me preface this post with the comment that I find this site really useful. It is an excellent source of recipes and at times, hugely entertaining. While not vegan myself, or even strictly vegetarian (my diet is roughly 90% vegetarian), I constantly find myself puzzled by the the very frequent referral to and interest in foods that attempt to resemble/replicate meat in some way. And the use of language such as chickin, tuno, meat (not!). It surprises me. There are so many foods available and I wonder about the need to attempt to replicate the foods one has come to detest. I look forward to your response.
Many vegetarians and vegans are such not because they "detest" meat per se. They detest animal cruelty, they detest the hormones, antibiodics, and saturated fat in meat, but the taste and foods they eat prior is not what they detest.
I am one of those who became a vegetarian not because I dislike the taste of meat.
I eat meat analogs occasionally, not as a staple, but mainly for the taste and convenience, plus it's a good way to get protein and other benefits of soy.
I like the foods my culture eats. Just today I had a vegan meatball sandwich that was sooooo good. Also, in a rush it's easy to make a quick salad and sandwich with tofurkey. So the convenience factor is big with me too.
I'm personally not going to pass up on good vegetarian food just because it looks and tastes like meat. The point is that it isn't meat. There are others that are totally repulsed by that and I can appreciate that.
Personally, I'm veggie because I don't like the taste of(or stuff added to..) meat. This means that those meat impersonator products don't exactly rock my socks off. I agree with the earlier post about the familiarity of the name, but also it's an easy way to describe taste and texture (most important, in my opinion).
Why mess with a good identification system that's already hardwired into our brains?
When one is raised with an idea or concept firmly in place, it is very very hard to break out of it. For six years I have struggled with one concept in particular (Dinner = Protien aka meat, starch, 1 veg) that my mother and her mother lived by. For me to break out of this idea, its a constant battle.
So its not too far of a leap to think that people imprinted with the idea of the shape and size and flavor of their protien would replicate it. I flavor my seitan with sage and thyme as well as veggie bullion to make it delish. Yes it vaguely reminds me of turkey kinda but that's simply due to the sage. Yes I have tried to make Non-Meat Loaf and even though my attempt failed doesn't mean I will not try again.
Its easier for me to go with what is 'normal' for me even if it resembles meat. I am 99% vegan due to severe food allergies. After 7.5 years I do not like the smell of meat anymore, I despise the smell of cooking meat. I am not trying to replicate it, but simply replace the old with the new.
And I am always happy to eat rectangular slices of Oven Fried Tofu as it tastes amazing. Everyone is on their own journey. Should they want to stay close to the old path and have comforting similarities, that's their choice. Should they wish their path to cross and intermingle, again that is their choice. Good luck on yours.
I'm with Tweety on this. What I hate about meat is the cruelty & exploitation of animals. That said, I was never a big meat eater, so it wasn't all that difficlt to become veg. It was much more difficult to give up cheese than meat!
When I first became veg there was tofu & tempeh. Soy milk was new & didn't taste very good. I don't think there were soy cheeses at that time. It wasn't until about 1999 when I went online & came here that I discovered there were all sorts of new veg products -- garden burgers, meatless meat balls & best of all . . . VEGENAISE!! How I had missed mayo!
I have full confidence that someday cheese will be replicated as closely as meat has been. My hope is they will make a non-dairy gargonzola that rocks.
I'm not vegan because I detest meat. I'm vegan because I detest suffering. Meat analogs don't cause suffering.
Just like most poeple in our culture, I grew up eating burgers, hot dogs, tacos, sloppy joes, subs, pizza, etc. I think about what I eat now in terms of health and impact on others, but I still crave the same things I always ate. It isn't that I crave flesh; I crave the situation. It's fun to dress a burger or a hot dog. It's quick to pack a bologna sandwich. Fortunately I am still able to enjoy all those things AND to enjoy them without causing pain to others or health problems for myself.
Imagine that there are two glasses of water before you. You are told that if you drink from one, someone will die. If you drink from the other, nothing bad will happen. Will you refuse to drink from either because one comes with consequences?
I agree with many of the comments already posted. People are veg for so many different reasons. I myself am vegetarian for many reasons some of these include that I do not want to eat what is actually the part of a dead animal (it's actual dead corpse - of course I would not want to eat any live animals either, I have to add that for all the smart alecks that would add that bit of brilliance), and for the fact that by skipping the middle-man of the cattle/pigs/chickens, fish, etc so many more people could eat than if we first fed food to the animals and then chopped them up and ate them, and for health reasons I have been med-free since I went veg and gave up dairy for my fibromyalgia...there are more reasons too. I am now working on becoming vegan.
I wanted to add to the conversation something that was not brought up. Tuno and meat(not) are actual names of products you can buy. So when you see or hear someone mentioning these they are likely referring to the actual product by name. And we have to call it something - we might as well call it by something that can describe what it could be used in place of.
I remember when I first went veg I felt for a while that I did not want to eat the fake'n stuff but realized that I could make many old favorite dishes new again by using the meat-free alternatives. For instance I love Tofurky and it tastes delish for a Thanksgiving dinner and I can be happy knowing no Tom-Turkeys suffered for my dinner.
It's fun to dress a burger or a hot dog.
;D That struck me as really funny, Robin!!
I've never been to New Zealand, but I suspect that the geographic issue has more to do with geographic differences in foodie culture as a whole, not just the vegetarian spectrum. Americans generally depend more on fast food, convenience foods, and pre-prepared foods than any other culture in the world. (That's a very generalized statement, and I'm not directing that to anyone here.) This dependence on quick food has certainly spread to other parts of the world (see: Migration of McDonald's), but we still hold the market on the quick fixes and microwave meals. Anyway, because we Americans grew up eating easy quick food, that's probably why we have made the transition to the meat analogs so well.
As for me, I like veggie dogs, seitan, portobello burgers, and spinach/broccoli nuggets, but I tend not the go for things that look and feel like riblets or chik'n nuggets. I don't think it's an aversion thing, but rather, these things tend to be highly processed (in order to more closely simulate meat products) and are high in sodium and added sugars. I try to eat as much whole food as possible, so I would rather eat a slab of tofu or actual veggies! But my fiance likes the analogs quite a bit, and he likes junk food more than I do.... I don't think it's a coincidence.
P.S. I didn't realize my username had changed... I'm sharway! Remember me?
I love the "dressed dog!" ;D Thanks for this discussion, the thought had just wandered thru my brain as well. I am returning to vegetaria because there is so much out and out danger involved in meats these days (see mad cow, bird flu and what have you, as well as man's intervention!) and also because I simply prefer the taste of fresh well-grown veg and fruits. Here in Spain things are very seasonal...I live in the strawberry-producing capital of Europe and we are in the midst of strawberry season!
I've never cared much for fish, maybe cuz I grew up in a landlocked place where fish meant frozen and gave new meanings to the word "fishy." After I married and had wandered from vegetaria, I still couldn't eat fresh fish if I had to prepare it myself. (All I could think of was those scales sticking to my hands...ugh.) Having returned to the garden about a month ago, last night DH opened a can of tuna and all I could think of was cat food! Gross!
A question. Vegetarianism is very much a new idea in Spain, esp. the south where I live, unless you live in the tourist towns. I was investigating the "faux meat" situation in our local healthfood stores, the only place you find such things. They only had tofu, tempeh and veggie dogs and a TVP/mushroom "burger" combo. 2 little burgers (1 serving according to the package) costs 3 Euros 20. Which is, what, 3.75 USD. Is this not a little pricey?
i think its interesting that when different people come to become vegetarian or vegan, they are coming from different directions, and all have different reasons, feelings, and beliefs surrounding their decision. that's what freedom of choice and belief is all about, as people we aren't all the same, we don't all do the same things, we don't do those things in the same way, or for the same reason.
personally, my whole family stopped eating meat when i was 3, when i had an allergic reaction to something meaty (i think it was a battered sausage, lol) because our doctor wasn't motivated to work out exactly what it was in the sausage that made me ill, and my parents just decided it would be safer that we just didn't have any meat in the house, or eat meat, incase i nearly died again. (smart parents!)
i have no memory of ever eating meat in early childhood, although growing up we ate fish, until one day when i was about 11, when my little brother, who has never eaten meat, commented that the fish we were eating for dinner was once alive like the ones we had in a pond in the garden, and asked why we didn't hit the ones we had in the pond over the head and eat them, but went and bought them in a can from a store instead. after that nobody could stomach the thought of eating fish either, lol.
we never had meat analogues in the house when i was a kid because they just weren't available where i lived, and nobody was bothered much about it. we didn't eat animals or fish, but it didn't shape our existance, we just didn't do it. i discovered in my teens that i was intollerant to eggs and dairy, and i hate the taste of honey, so i'm now kind of vegan by default.
i don't eat meat analogues now, because the meaty taste is a bizzarre foriegn thing to me, i don't like smoky tasting things- they remind me of the idea of eating a barbequed stick, the smell of cooking flesh makes me gag on reflex, and meaty tasting things frighten me because since childhood i've grown to affiliate meat with getting very sick. i can't even eat fake cheese cos it weirds me out and i panic that it'll make me ill like real cheese does, lol.
my brother and i are now in your twenties, and still don't eat meat, and never will- i guess it just strikes us as a bizzarre thing to do- just like the idea of eating bricks, glass, trash bags, or car tyres- its something we just don't do!
i have friends who are vegetarian and eat fake meat, and friends who don't. i have friends who aren't vegetarian but prefer veggiedogs to the real thing because the veggie dogs don't taste like grainy gristle, and those who eat them because they know its not a mouthful of ears, tails, and testicles (or whatever) that they're eating, and they find that makes it easier to swallow, so to speak. i also have friends who will happily chomp on a chunk of cow- but who wouldn't think the same way about eating a cat, and i know people who would eat cat if they were served it and not give a damn. i think my dad did probably did eat cat or something similar more than once when he was in the navy 40 years ago and was served it by locals while stationed in deepest darkest somewhere, lol. i wonder if those people who eat meat would eat it if they had to kill and prepare it themselves though, probably not too many would. i think i'd find it hard to eat an egg if i'd just watched it come out of a chicken, too, hahaha.
to me, it's all just down to the individual what they choose to eat- as long as they know what it is, and how it got produced, and are happy with that, then fine, they can do what they want.
i guess what i'm jabbering on about is that people are gonna do whatever they're gonna do, for any one of a billion reasons. i might have an opinion, but unless they ask me for it, its none of my business to butt in and give them it, lol- i know i don't enjoy it when people try and sell me religion/ cable/ encyclopedias/ credit cards, etc and i didn't ask them to.
that said, when it comes to fake meats, i'd much prefer that people eat the fake stuff than the real thing, cos eating a cow or drinking its milk, well, i think that's just plain weird, and i'm sure the cow isn't keen on the idea much either... not that i'd hug a cow if i passed it in the street either.