One of the most ridiculous statements I see on a fairly regular basis is the (probable non-vegan) chastising the article about fake meat. They say it’s ridiculous to have such a product because “vegans hate meat! Why make something that’s just like meat? Why not just eat meat!” This statement is so misled (if it’s even led) it perhaps it doesn’t warrant covering, but it’s also so common I suppose it deserves a blog post (particularly on the eve of Veganuary).
Here are a few reasons why fake meat isn’t “ridiculous”:
1. Not all vegans were born as non-meat eaters, hating the idea and taste of meat.
Vegans weren’t necessarily born into their diet and lifestyle. Most aren’t. Many people switch to veganism or a plant-based diet after years and years of eating meat, growing up on the stuff. Many or most of these people probably enjoy the taste and flavor of it, or they at least are used to eating meat regularly. These individuals might have a difficulty transitioning due to cravings and switching old habits. These products help.
I don’t tend to advertise the fact I don’t eat animal products, but it comes up when I order “as vegan as possible” when I’m out. The most common thing I hear is “but I could NEVER give up ____”. These products are aimed squarely at these individuals, why may need to give up animal products for health reasons, factory farming concerns, or sustainability reasons… but feel they might not be able to due to cravings.
2. So on that note, not all vegans hate meat-like substances.
Having ethical beliefs does not mean you hate the taste, texture, or idea of eating a meat like product. You may just hate factory farming and animal abuse. That may, but doesn’t necessarily, change your taste buds the day you decide to go meat-free.
There are vegans who may be transitioning or transitioned to avoiding animal products for ethical reasons, but there are many others who are eating plant-based for sustainability or health reasons. Fake meat fits the bill for sustainability and sometimes health (if not healthy, they are typically healthier.)
And then one day later on, cravings have diminished and perhaps the taste and texture of meat will be unpleasant. Or maybe not.
3. These products are popular.
It’s hard to call popular products ridiculous. If there is a market demand, obviously there is a need for the product. This is worth stating because of the (many) folks out there who think such products are ridiculous and unwarranted. This product helps reduce resource usage, and it’s healthier than what it’s replacing, and people want it… so it’s easy to see why such a product makes sense.
Plus, there is obviously a demand: the new Beyond Burger is consistently sold out at many Whole Foods locations where it has been introduced. If I was a smarter entrepreneur I might try to take that ridiculousness to the bank.
4. Product replacements helps people transition.
Many people feel cravings for meat, perhaps due to addictive like properties, but they do not want to eat it any more for whatever reasons they personally have (sustainability, health, etc). These products fill a need to help people transition to a plant-based diet. Or perhaps it just adds some variety to their diet, as it does for me (eating these products is an indulgence a few times per month).
5. They are actually tasty in their own right.
While I don’t add a ton of fake meat to my own diet, as they are processed (albeit often quite lightly processed and the ones I eat chemical free) and I focus on eating whole foods, I do find them tasty in their own right Faux chicken tastes so much like its chicken counterpart I’m not sure I could tell the difference (and dipped in buffalo sauce, tastes divine). The Beyond Burger coupled with excellent toppings is flavorful and reminds me of a traditional burger – good stuff. This would point to being a standalone food category of its own right, and it’s one that’s more healthful and sensical than some of the empty calories down the candy aisle.
Again, this is probably 101 for most who come across the article, but perhaps it will cover why we have fake meats in the first place. Serves a purpose, and answers a demand.
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