Thursday, March 27, 2008

Faux Meat Favourites

These are two of the newest products released by President's Choice, carried by Fortino's. The meatless beef strips are very realistic, if you are looking for a faux meat. Texture, colour and taste much like a well done stewing beef (as I recall); the chicken, although well liked by my family, is less "authentic" taste wise. Overall, I would recommend both products, if you are still stuck in the "meat" mode of preparing a meal.

This brings me to wonder 'why would this product be appealing to a vegetarian consumer?'. A few years back when I started down this road, my children, then in their teens, would point out to me the paradox of claiming to be a vegetarian, while still flavouring food with a vegetarian chicken or beef cube. No snappy comeback here; I had to agree that this did seem strange.

Now several years later, here I am buying "meatless" beef strips. Why? I would answer a number of reasons, the least of all, being it's a new product, marketed as such and I'm a consumer (thus prey to the sophisticated ways of corporate advertising!). I am also a person who grew up eating meat for most of my life - so the conditioning of eating meat is still strong (the memory of meals with meat as the main focus). In a family that is not completely vegetarian, these products make it a little easier to switch the traditional hunk of meat for the meatless option, especially, when the appearance, smell and taste is very much like the real thing.

Do I purchase these and use these products daily? No, not even weekly. Given all the current research, I think everyone's goal is to make fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains the main source of calories in our daily diet. It would be far to easy to slip back into the old traditional "plate" of meat (albeit meatless), potatoes and a vegetable. I try to portion my plate with the vegetables, grain or pasta first and then add a protein source (beans, tofu or soy-based meat). Many of my meals are all vegetable, grain and beans and I am fairly confident I am getting all the protein I require.

Another point to keep in mind is that these new fandango products are also just another processed food. The nutritional breakdown looks fairly good on both, but still we should be eating foods in their natural state and moving away from consumption of processed foods.

Having said that, I will continue to buy these foods periodically to add variety to meal preparation and to give feedback to the retailer and suppliers, that yes I do want to see vegetarian foods on their shelves.

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Sister Tinh Quang said...

I once had difficulty with the idea of eating something that looked, tasted and had the texture of meat, while advocating a vegetarian diet. However, one wise person told me that they didn't become vegetarian because they didn't like the taste of meat; they became vegetarian so as to have compassion for animals. In fact, just like faux fur, I believe that it is another way of saying you can have what you are looking for without cruelty.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I've tried the meatless beef strips and I think they're quite delicious. Coincidentally, I just used them in a stir-fry today with red onion, green peppers and red peppers. They're a nice source of protein but I don't eat them every day either.

I haven't tried the chicken one.. it is a little more expensive, and I'm not sure I would really like the taste. The only thing I've tried that comes close to tasting like real chicken is the Schneider's meatless chicken nuggets which are no longer being sold, sadly.
Does the PC meatless chicken have seasoning on it? Generally, how easy is it to prepare?

Compassionate Consumption said...

Dear Anonymous,
I agree, the price of the meatless chicken is high (I noticed it increased from the launch price by approx $2.00). They are seasoned, so require only baking or nuking (I think you can also barbeque them but not 100% sure; I'd have to check the instructions.) Two evenings back, I roasted some sweet potato chunks, with peppers, onions, broccoli drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with rosemary. With about 20 minutes left of baking time, I popped two of these breasts on top of the veggies.
Another thought that came to mind (among the 9 million thoughts bouncing about in monkey mind LOL) is that, had I never tasted meat of any sort (let's say I was born Hindu), then I would have nothing to compare these meatless foods with. Surely my impressions would be totally different. It would be simply a matter of my taste buds telling me yes, pretty tasty or no, don't like this at all.

Anonymous said...

Good morning Sister,
Thanks for the comment. I have read many times in vegan sources, that (from a "purist" point of view) we should be moving away from faux furs, meats, etc. Your comment, then brought to mind an incident that happened at work a couple of years back, which bothered me enough (one of those "terrible gifts"). I had worn a faux-leopard skin vest to work that day. With black sweater and black pants, I really loved the look. Someone at the meeting, knowing I was vegetarian, jokingly commented "she doesn't eat meat but it's ok to wear their skins".
I haven't worn the vest since - I think I might donate it to Value Village from whence it came.
Quang Prasad

Sister Tinh Quang said...

Yes, but you weren't wearing "their skins." That is the point. Is wearing something that looks like an animal skin being non-compassionate toward the animal? No. But it does say that you admire the look of them. What was your motivation and intent when wearing the vest? What is the attachment, what is the aversion, what is delusional thinking, in all of this? Something to think about. I've just thought of about six more questions, and I won't go into it here. Interesting though.

Anonymous said...

Your comments just get better and better!! Please make note somewhere of those 6 other questions. I am fairly certain at this point that I will try to resurrect the Hamilton Veg'n Group, with the intent to try to do six sessions of monthly meetings each with a topic or theme. I already have 2 topics in mind (LOL) but my spidey sense tells me that your 6 questions (along with the others you refer to in your comment) might provide me with at least 4 more topics!
See you soon.
Quang Prasad

Anonymous said...

Yes, the hypothesis you raised about how, if you never had the experience of eating meat, you wouldn't have anything to compare the "meatless" meat to is very interesting. I've been vegetarian for close to 2 years now, and I'm not too sure if I really "remember" the taste of meat, although I seem to judging by some of my comments.
I'm trying to eat closer to a plant diet (less processed foods), although I find I can only do that when I have time, unfortunately. I pack my lunch, and it's usually (ok, always) a Tofurky sandwich with maybe some lettuce/a handful of bagged salad to top it off.
When I have time, I make a delicious recipe consisting of microwaved potatoes, chopped in bite-size pieces, with melted marble cheese on top, chopped green and red peppers, green onions, and diced tomatoes. It's absolutely delicious, but it's a bit time consuming.
I guess the hardest part is learning how to really cook - and well. I would love to make some vegetarian chilli but am completely clueless as to how. Oh well, I will learn some day!

Compassionate Consumption said...

Hello and thanks for your comment. I got a chuckle about your staple Tofurkey sandwiches every day!
Don't be afraid to just throw things together - some will be hits and some misses (I still have those). I also remember buying some of those powdered sauce mixes, usually in the Asian aisle at the grocery story, to flavour whatever I was preparing. I have also, over the years, amassed a large collection of vegetarian cookbooks and magazines - this helped me "learn" how to prepare new dishes without meat.
Now I try to make a rough list of some dishes I would like to try out during the week - and I do it. (Mind you I also work part time, hence I have the time to prepare a decent meal.) Most casserole dishes are good places to start - maintain the basic recipe but substitute the meat with TVP, tofu or a soy-meat.
Good luck on the vegetarian path, sounds to me like you are well on your way.