Since going vegan I have met a lot of people who are very interested in the diet whether it be to debunk it or because they simply cannot imagine a life without meat or dairy. One of the most interesting questions I’ve been asked in the past couple of months many times is why do I eat those fake meats such as Quorn or Linda Mc Cartney. If I don’t eat meat why would I want to eat something that tastes like meat, why don’t I just eat the real thing? I understand why this could be confusing to some. I know many vegans who themselves stray away from these products it is all really just a matter of taste and preference and of course your reasons for choosing the vegan life.
I am vegan for all the usual reasons. I don’t like the exploitation of animals, I thoroughly enjoy the health benefits associated with veganism and I feel better knowing I am doing minimal damage to the environment. One of the reasons that I didn’t go vegan sooner was quite a silly one – I liked the taste of meat. This is the case for many people out there. This is the simple reason that I eat these meat substitutes from time to time. My teeth get to enjoy the texture that they were oh so used to for most of my life and none of my ethics is being questioned. Many also come fortified with yummy goodness such as B12 and iron and they contain adequate amounts of protein. I do know however that these are processed foods and so I eat them sparingly. Some vegans did not like the taste or texture of meat and so these people go without the meat substitutes.
This seems to be an area where many omnivores judge vegans believing we are going against our ethics by eating these products. I do not believe that this is the case. My head is firmly out of the clouds I know that bacon tastes good, and I know that in a pinch I can make Quorn bacon taste just like it with a bit of Cyprus smoked salt. I know that I can satisfy my omnivore family and friends with a Spaghetti Bolognese made with soya mince. I know that I am not depriving myself of what I consider a treat or “cheat day” when I consume these products. Most of these meat substitutes have to be covered in sauce or herbs to make them palatable. So I use them, in the same way, I would the real thing i.e. a chicken curry with fake chicken pieces or a stir-fry with pulled chicken. In the real versions of these products, these are covered up so well that with the fake stuff you barely notice the difference. (I’ve even tricked some omnivores sorry if any of you are reading this) I have however tried some meat substitutes that are simply too close to the real thing and these ones I cannot eat at all as it turns my stomach.
The cheese was one of the most difficult things for me to give up, no matter how much I watched the videos of dairy cows being treated terribly I still craved a cheese toasty. The casein in cheese means that cheese is very addictive so having cheese substitutes available meant that I could eliminate this cheese and therefore a massive amount of saturated fat from my diet without depriving myself of the melty goodness of a cheese toasty with some tomato soup.
So if you are considering going vegan/vegetarian or trying Veganuary try some of these products if you wish. You are not cheating. You are simply admitting to yourself a simple fact you like the taste and texture of meat. This does not make you a bad person, in fact, I really respect that. You have decided to eliminate something from your diet that you liked for the good of yourself and the planet. You are a good person. Just treat these the same way you would chocolate or other treat foods. Don’t be down on yourself and don’t let anyone else look down on you either. You can also find some delicious and nutritious meat substitutes online that will be sure to tickle your taste buds.
The taste and textures of animal foods can be created from plants then there is no moral dilemma involved in eating these. It is not hypocritical. It does not mean that we want to eat animals. It just means we are enjoying our foods just like everyone else just without the animal products.