The Vegetarian’s Dilemma

Life can be hard when you don’t speak the language of meat.  I can attest to this- having been a vegetarian for the past three years now.

Given that I’m already left-handed, you’d think I would have learned my lesson by now, and not chosen to willingly submit myself to yet another subgroup of society who constantly get the shaft… but alas: I am a glutton for punishment… or I just flat-out hate myself. That’s also a possibility.

Anyway, living in a world built for meat eaters poses a number of difficulties- like finding an acceptable meal choice at a restaurant (specifically, one that’s not a roasted eggplant, stuffed with eggplant, garnished with aubergine shavings finished with a nice eggplant glaze),  or awkwardly having to defend my lifestyle/moral convictions to complete strangers, or being that guest who screws up the dinner party menu for everyone. Ruiner.  

Salad: You don't win friends with it

The thing that I struggle with most about being vegetarian, though, is not any of these things- it’s the prevailing, and completely unsubstantiated view, that vegetarians are stupid.

What makes me say this you ask? Simple really: it’s the endless parade of  vegetarian and vegan food options attempting to fool us by masquerading themselves as something else entirely. “Chik’n” fingers; Veggie burgers… Tofurkey… creatively titled as they may be- I’m here to tell you that the jig is up. I’ve tasted countless of these products- and have yet to be convinced. No portobello mushroom- no matter how succulent- will ever be a hamburger. Dehydrated Eggplant will never be bacon. Nutritional Yeast is some kind of freaky powder- it’s not cheese.  So please, for the love of God- STOP CALLING IT THAT. (Oh, and Amy – I’ve tasted your “pot pies”….. and I’m not really sure what’s going on there, but it sure as hell ain’t chicken).

I’m not really sure why companies and restaurants continue to do this. Why slap a fun-sounding title on it, instead of just calling it what it really is? A sh*tload of beans and tofu. Plus I find this whole designing veg foods to look like meat thing all a little Freudian, really- the unfounded assumption that all vegetarians have a chronic case of meat-envy. (Unless you’re talking about bacon. In which case- that’s absolutely accurate).

Just the other night actually I encountered a particularly bad case of food trickery. I was working late, and forced to order dinner from our online take-out system at work. Given that my obscure vegetarianism already severely limits my selection on this, I’ve long since given up hope of finding anything “good” , and instead generally just go for “edible”. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of the choices that night was a local all-vegetarian restaurant.  Like a kid in a candy shop, I excitedly perused the menu, ultimately settling on the “Pizza”- which also happened to be raw, and vegan. Bonus karma points.

I knew that this pizza was a tad unconventional, given the description that accompanied it:

Pizza (raw)
thin walnut crust, herb pesto, arugula, artichokes, mushrooms, cashew chevre

I decided to take my chances anyway- and was prepared for the challenge (“cashew chevre?” is that even english?)… but what I was not prepared for,  was this:

 

Ummmmm… hate to state the obvious but……..

THAT’S NOT PIZZA!!!!!!!!

I may have been born at night, but I wasn’t born last night, people.  Painfully familiar with loose definitions and the art of spin that my profession has made me-  I’m certain that by no stretch of the imagination could the above photo be considered “pizza”.  I would guess that it was more likely a few forgotten passed apps the delivery man stole from a vegan convention on his way to my office.   

In the interest of full disclosure- it didn’t actually taste that bad… and I might even have ordered it again- were I not inclined to stand on principle. This vegetarian, at least, has been fooled for the last time. 

To those out there determined to continue to try and pull the wool over our eyes- let this be a lesson to you all:  Animal loving, bleeding-hearted,  and chronically low in iron as we may be- we vegetarians are not naive. And if ever again you attempt to present me with a soy-based product dressed in carnivore’s clothing, then I will promptly tell you, on behalf of fed-up vegetarians everywhere, that you can take your “Not-Dog“, and shove it.  

Question of the Day: Are you vegetarian? Have you tried vegetarian substitutes?

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390 thoughts on “The Vegetarian’s Dilemma

    • I think there were a few reasons at the time- I never was a big meat-eater in the first place.. and around that time I was big into a health-food kick.. trying to eat all natural/organic etc. Giving up meat seemed like the logical next step.. plus I always took issue with the way animals were treated/the process whereby the food gets to your table. I actually took a course in law school called “Animals and the Law” which was very eye opening in that respect..
      Although I’m not so strict about my diet anymore, I’m still not sure if I’ll ever eat meat again… but I’m not willing to rule anything out!

      • haha at times…but it was also a lot more fluffy and philosophical than a lot of my other courses in law school, which was a welcome change. I remember the first reading was “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace… it was kind of an expose on the Maine Lobster festival, and whether or not lobsters could feel pain when you boiled them. Things only got better from there haha

      • I am always humbled (and becoming less amazed) at how the Universe times things out so perfectly. I am in the midst of eating my all vegetable lunch (except the sour cream). It is delish and it always makes my body feel happy.
        My husband has been battling food poison from meat for four days now. I have been reading first about how the flesh of the animals we eat store the emotions and memories (energetically-electrically, which align exactly with what I am teaching/learning about the Universe)). We consume the emotions that animal had at the time it was (to be nice) harvested, and thus become scared, hopeless, angry, rebellious, violent. A very good reason not to eat meat.
        The other thing I have been researching today is GMO foods. For people that want to eat plants of any kind, this is a serious subject. Life and death kind. Look into it. Splicing pesticide DNA with plant DNA, which you cannot wash off or cook away. Not cool. I do not want to eat that.
        Thanks for such a thought provoking blog today! Enjoy FP, well earned! AmberLena

      • If anyone was to ask why are you vegetarian or vegan? .. I would say that is a result of societal brainwashing by industry to believe that we need animal based protein, as opposed to the many botanically based proteins which are superior and more bioavailable. Why do you eat meat, I would ask .. as anyone who slows down in life enough to educate themselves with the research that’s available to anyone, not only is the meat industry inexcusably cruel and unsustainable, the animals have cortisol from terror in their bloodstreams, have been injected with hormones and fed GMO food … etc etc .. other processed meats are equally if not more problematic and a toxic shock for your body .. I love the look of the “pizza” .. love salads .. love love superfoods and superherbs .. don’t be dumb .. reduce your toxic load.

      • Have you seen the documentary Earthlings? I’m not vegetarian anymore, but that movie made me one for one year. Very powerful. In the meantime, totally support your organic diet! I’ve been focusing a lot on my health lately and have come to the conclusion that I could do less with meat and eat more greens, especially ones I have grown myself.

  1. I can’t help but laugh a bit at the self-inflicted plight of vegetarians but I am on your side with the pizza.

    That aint pizza. At all. It’s not even cheese on a cracker. I can’t even see what it is.

    I got tricked into going into a vegetarian restaurant once. The food was actually quite nice but the amount of detail the menu went into was absurd.

    • I agree the detail is ridiculous.. no amount of adjectives will ever change the fundamental character of the food, which is…… not meat. Good on you for trying out a veg restaurant tho!

  2. First thing I thought of was the “You don’t make friends with salad” song but you were sure to include it.

    And yes, that isn’t pizza. Pizza have bottoms. That looks more like an appetizer from Chilis where you order it and think “I was expecting something more” than everyone around you looks at you and feels bad because they have gigantic meals but you have this little dinkky thing. Then someone offers you a french fry and things aren’t good but they’re better.

    • Yeah seriously, a vegetarian has so many more options than a meat eater. But ironically the restaurants present it the other way around. If you ever visit one of those Hare Krishna centers on a Sunday, their vegetarian love feast will surprise you :).

    • Why don’t you go onto YouTube or Google and check out the raw food chefs .. if you start being a bit more discerning about what you put in your body, you’ll easily find ways to prepare raw vegetarian food in ways that leave cooked food for dead, which is exactly what you’ve done .. you’ve killed the otherwise “live” food. Raw vegetarian and organic food preparation is more gourmet and often way more expensive, but when your body is getting high grade nutrients on a regular basis, your cravings and addictions for rubbish (pizza, meat, sugar, alcohol .. etc) just effortlessly dissipate AND you require way less calories. I make the most delicious smoothies and chocolate which people who eat a standard diet (including cooked and fast food) want. They just don’t realise how good it is for them because the chocolate, for example, tastes divine .. There’s no need to be confused or feel like a social reject for this style of eating. I find people are constantly asking questions about RFV, not criticising it. It’s a sign of the times .. great for the planet and it’s about time animals were shown respect.

  3. I’m not vegetarian but I don’t eat meat on Wednesdays and Fridays (past deals I made with God- don’t ask). It’s hard to figure out what I’m going on eat for lunch at work that will not result in me passing out. So far, I’ve come up with cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and the occassional cannoli that kind-hearted Italian nonnas bring me.

    I feel your pain and I don’t know how you do it. I’d fill the void with seafood and cheese. Also, that walnut non-pizza looks like a Kuwaiti dessert. And tofurkey?!? I wanna try that just because of the name!

    • Cheese sandwiches eh… I’ll have to give that one a try… though I can’t guarantee the cheese will actually make it onto the bread before being inserted directly into my mouth.
      And I’d skip the tofurkey if I were you…. I say this only because I care.

  4. Ah, no. That is not pizza. Being a Pizza Slut, I would know. Next time just order a Veggie Lover’s pizza- you have Pizza Huts in Canada right?
    I understand your dilemma. There have been times when I’ve considered becoming a vegetarian, but I guess it’s not as much of a problem for me because I don’t really like meat anyway…

    • I had my birthday party at pizza hut when I was in grade four. I have fond memories of this establishment.
      I was also never a big meat fan either (except for bacon… but that’s a given), which is why the modelling veg food to look like meat bugs me so much. They should make it all look like cupcakes. Then I’d be a happy camper

  5. What?! Ingredient layered on a crust-like thing isn’t pizza?! News.to.me!

    Seriously though… I’m not vegetarian, but I HAVE noticed what you’re talking about. Things like that drive me crazy. I often wonder why companies do that, and how many vegetarians are actually receptive to it.

    • Who put you up to this, and how much did they pay you??? Just kidding.. but know that you’ve earned my eternal gratitude by comparing me to a Kardashian sister. It definitely can be hard when your fam eats meat- my mom still doesn’t really understand the concept of my being vegetarian. She is still convinced if she prepares meat in a certain way I will eat it.

  6. Not veget or vegan but my daughter was both. Vegatarians don’t seem to be that much of a challenge to cook for. Who are your friends? They shouldn’t have too much trouble adjusting the menu. Drop those meatheads if they can’t figure it out.

    • I like your attitude. To be honest sometimes I think it can just be a sticking point people want to argue about because they’re bored… or because maybe it makes them shine a light on their own behaviours. Who knows. All I know is my Karma score is clearly beating theirs ;) (or at least it would be… if I didn’t write this blog).

  7. I think all that “fake meat” stuff is for those tring to be vegitarian but still “miss ” meat; real, long-term vegs that I’ve met dont touch the stuff; & I didnt either the years I didnt eat meat. Great post !

  8. Yeah, I’ve always kind of wondered about those faux meat products. I mean, isn’t the meaning of whole philosophical construct to *not do the meat thing? I dove into the vegetarian world (again) this year. Veggie is easy and I’m really enjoying it but find vegan way harder and not so much fun. Anyway, thank you for sharing!
    Best,
    Cynthia

    • exactly! I find the same thing- being vegan is way, way harder. I considered it for about a day… but I became too distracted by visions of milk products dancing in my head ;)

  9. Vegetarianism isn’t so bad. It’s the vegans who want to try and look like they eat meat, like it or some such.

    The other day my s-i-l – who along with her other sister (not my wife) determined to become a vegetarian – bought and made vegetarian “ribs” and “chicken wings”.

    The “ribs” turned out to be gluten. In other words, fried bread slathered in bbq sauce. The “chicken wings” were tofu, again, breaded and slathered in bbq sauce. So, basically bread and beans.

    If I wanted bread and beans I’d open a loaf of fresh, real bread and either boil some good beans or open a can of baked beans… NOT soy beans.

    I don’t doubt people can live a mostly vegetarian or even vegan diet – we ourselves don’t eat much meat – but I agree, enough with all the substitutes and trying to play off like you’re making something you’re really not.

    One of the major things that has left me largely unimpressed with the modern vegetarian and vegan movement is this push for substitutions, most which are disgusting, and in turn the over-use of many foods which as with most things, in excess is probably not good for you.

    • My roommate used to say the same thing about everything I cooked. She’d be like “this is great… but you know it’s basically a side dish, right?” haha

  10. I’m actually thinking about trying veganism (I’ve been vegetarian for 2 years now) and am already getting such an increase in the amount of criticism and judgment of my diet than I already receive. My Grandmother will probably kill me – she already hates that she has to think twice about what she serves when I come over. I’m preparing myself to just make all my own meals and not make anyone else fool with it. My favorite is when you specifically ask for no meat, and the salad still comes out with pepperoni on it. Pepperoni is still a meat!

    The good thing is that my boyfriend has just as strict of a diet as I do, so our friends are used to us not eating anything.

    But that pizza is ridiculous.

    • hahaha a salad with pepperoni? That sounds gross even if you do eat meat. That’s definitely helpful your boyfriend is veg too- less special meals to have to make. Thanks for reading :)

  11. I grew up vegetarian in a fully 100% vegetarian family since – well since the 1800′s. We’re hardcore vegie-meat eaters. Its just what I’m used to and grew up with. Although, now that I’m an adult and parent myself, I do eat a lot less of it than I did when a kid, but still, I love ‘big franks’ and ‘stripples’ and ‘leanie’s.’ But, irregardless of my irrational love for all things fake meat, this post made me laugh harder than I have in a long time. You nailed it.

      • Yup! My ancestors actually started a lot of the ‘health food factories’ back at the start of the 20th century that ‘invented’ fake meat, particularly the Loma Linda and Worthington Brands (they were also good friends with Kellogg who made his fortune on the healthy cereal business). But I’m all for striking these products out of our markets – they’re not the health foods that they were meant to be, so full of preservatives, sodium, dyes, and who knows what else.

        And yeah, they don’t taste like meat. They’re not fooling anyone!

  12. I’ve been a vegetarian for about three years too and have, of course, eaten my fair share of fake meat. And, actually, I kinda like some of it. I do really wish though that it wasn’t billed as meat substitute. Tofurkey and fakon (that’s what I call the fake bacon strips) are never going to taste the same as meat and suggesting that it will just sets the product up for failure.

    On a side note, the “pizza” actually looks pretty tasty.

  13. I’m a vegetarian wanna-be, sharing a life and home with an open-minded omnivore. We make vegetarian meals several times a week, but let me tell you there is no tofu, tempeh, chik’n, or any other substitute in sight. Meat substitutes are a non-starter in my book and the fastest way to subject yourself to vegetarianism scrutiny (and household mutiny!)

  14. Finding something veggy in restaurants can be tricky. Over here in Britain we’re going through a bit of goats cheese craze at the moment. Fine if you like the stuff but not great if you don’t. Now if I were a meat eater I’d have a choice of three or four dishes to choose from. You never get a second or third option on the menu as a vegetarian. One choice (if you’re lucky) and that’s it.

    And it’s odd. Despite the occasional lighthearted mocking and “oh I couldn’t possibly do without meat”, if you attend a course or work type event and there’s a buffet you can guarantee that the veggy options will all vanish first. Strange considering there’s usually only a couple of us vegetarians!

    • it’s true about the veg options vanishing first eh? I bet its like how tall girls feel about short chicks dating really tall guys. Leave them for the ones who really NEED them why don’t you?? haha

      • You’re so right about the veggie options disappearing before the veggies get to the table. After all these years, why do caterers still get the proportions so wrong? I guess its because everyone still believes ‘vegetarian’ food is weird stuff that ‘normal’ people don’t eat (tofurky can take some blame I guess!), forgetting that everybody actually eats cheese / egg / salad / hummous / coleslaw etc and er, like them quite a lot! Who would really suffer if all the options at a buffet were suitable for vegetarians?

  15. Cracking me up! I so understand your problem. And I have had my “fake meat” and wondered, like you, if I want to be vegetarian, why the heck would I want to eat something that is supposed to look and taste like a chicken patty (although of anything out there, the fake chicken patty with some dark mustard on bread makes a descent sandwich). I made my kids tacos the other night and it looked so good, so what the heck, I thawed out a black bean burger, stuffed it in the shell, put cheese on it and I was happy:) I guess I think of the “fake” foods as fast food for the vegaterian!

    • You are making me want tacos now. I like that theory, “fast food for the vegetarian”… since it’s hard to get veg-friendly fast food otherwise… Although I recently did get a veggie burger at this burger joint in Toronto that was a deep-friend portobello mushroom stuffed with cheese for a patty. Now that’s what I call a substitute.

  16. I’m just thinking … yeah, I know, you knew you smelled something burning … and I wonder if those ridiculous names are not meant for the every-day vegetarian. Stick with me here … I know there are no part-time vegetarians. What I’m saying is … there are people on diets looking for something to sooth their withdrawal symptoms. Perhaps those fake-names are meant to draw in the dieters? Eh, who knows, but those names are ridiculous, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I admire the vegetarian diet. Tried it for a couple years and couldn’t fight the difficulty that you’re having. I just gave in. Keep up the good work.

  17. I’ve been vegan for almost a year (yipeeeeee) and vegetarian for almost four. I just finished having this argument with my boyfriend. He said “I don’t understand why vegetarians want fake meat, blah blah blah blah.”

    My taste buds have completely changed themselves. Now if I taste a high quality fake meat it tastes like normal meat to me. Sometimes.. I just want a hot dog.

    However.. there are only certain one’s I like. Other things give me terrible gas. I like the yves ground meat as it goes really well in recipes.

    I would suggest trying some really good vegetarian restaurants.

    This place in Los Angeles has a ‘chicken’ dish that is unbelievably good. I was like, wow! I’ve tasted chicken again!

    http://www.bulanthai.com/

    Back to the topic of why vegetarians want fake meat. I ate meat for 17 years. Vegetarian for 4. There are certain things I miss and I want to feel that I can eat again. If they are well done, who’s the wiser?

    • I think you’re spot on about the veg restaurants.. there is a great chain in Toronto called Fresh (www.freshrestaurants.ca) that I LOVE.. and they can call their food whatever they want, I’m still gonna eat it ;)

  18. I am a fan of veggie burgers, not because they taste like meat (They don’t, and I don’t want them to.) but because it’s a quick tasty sandwich.

    • I agree I think veggie burgers are the least threatening. There is a huge spectrum though- some that try to simulate hamburgers themselves, and others that are like bean patties that don’t even try.. I kind of like those ones better

  19. I’ve tried many tofu-substitues before (mostly because such foods are often gluten-free as well, and I have celiac) but I am not a vegetarian. I think a lot of the anger/mockery towards vegetarians comes because of that subset of vegetarians who want everyone else to be vegetarian as well, and like to evangelize. But I don’t think most vegetarians are like that.

    • nice! He is lucky to have you cooking for him and not sending him out to pasture on his own :)
      P.S. I love your little piggy gravatar… and I’m sorry for what I said about bacon. xo

  20. I have been a vegetarian for most of my life, so I guess I don’t really know if meat substitutes taste like meat. I don’t eat them because they mostly taste BAD. I prefer real food. I started my blog to inspire myself to cook more and am sharing daily mostly-vegetarian, often-vegan recipes at http://www.emmycooks.com You won’t find meat substitutes there, but you will find easy, satisfying vegetarian food! Share it with your meat-eating friends when they’re wondering what to make you for dinner. :)

  21. I am a vegetarian and have been for more than ten years. I do not miss the meat , nor do I subscribe to the foods that are purveyed as meat analogs, meat substitutes etc. I love to cook and so create my own menus. Sorry for all the disappointments you have experienced with the various vegetarian menus. I know it is a challenge for those who decided to become a vegetarian and was not rprepared for the radical change. Unfortunately, if you eat out alot, you may not find acceptable vegetarian food choices everywhere. You may have to be selective where you eat or sometimes pack your own meal

    • 10 years- wow- good for you! I find things are getting better (especially in a big city like Toronto- not so much in a small town, like the one I’m from) but still not perfect. I think I need to get my butt in the kitchen more.. haha

  22. Been vegan for four years. I love Gardein and there’s some faux-meat supplier for restaurants in my area that’s so good my husband the omnivore meat-lover thinks that the texture of their mock chicken is near perfect. My daughter prefers their nuggets to real chicken ones. I hate Morningstar and tolerate Boca. With the exception of their burgers, I’ve loved everything Gardein’s put out so far.

  23. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 11.5 and I don’t see the point of the meat substitutes at all. Since a year in college where the veggie option for our catered lunches was always based around some kind of meat substitute I don’t ever choose to eat/buy them even as a back-of-the-freezer-last-resort-what-can-we-eat-quickly type thing. If I have them rarely enough I am fine with being served them by hosts who can’t imagine a meal without meat.

    I have to disagree with you on the bacon though – even the smell is pretty foul to me. That might be to do with the fact that in my first year of university, among the 16 of us who shared a kitchen I think only I and the Japanese girl never ate bacon, and some of the others seemed to have it twice a day. Certainly the stuff was cooked in there at least three times daily, and usually far more, between the 14 of them, and the smell never dissipated. Horrible.

    Great post!

    • haha you are much better off! I do the same thing actually, buy some frozen veggie burgers for a rainy day… I’m usually disappointed though. Sigh. it’s our cross to bear in this life… haha

  24. Veggie or NOT veggie? That is the question. Even my silly kids know that pizza is NOT a vegetable (like our Congress does). For us, anyway, Food = Plants. Anything else is, well, something else, a treat perhaps. Just because it can be put into the mouth, chewed, and swallowed, does not make a thing food. Our bodies need food. The science on meat-as-food pretty much speaks for itself.

    Kudos on eating your veggies and speaking your mind. And for being FP’d. Way to go, girl!

  25. I love your statement: “Plus I find this whole designing veg foods to look like meat thing all a little Freudian, really- the unfounded assumption that all vegetarians have a chronic case of meat-envy.” Not only is it hilarious, but totally true, and it reminds me of a little ditty I made up and occasionally get brave enough to sing:

    “Lesbians and vegetarians:
    they both use fake meat!”

  26. I am also a vegetarian and I do try some subsitutes but mainly just cook “real” food. I am not a huge fan of soy; I like soymilk creamer and a small amount of soy products. I find that with the fake things I am so disappointed in flavor that I do a better job of making it myself and it ends up being healthier anyway :) This was entertaining to read though!

    • I’m not a huge soy fan either…. I don’t drink milk (a hangover from my 30-second stint as a vegan) but I like Almond milk WAY better than soy… especially in cereal it feels like such a treat

  27. Your timing is so perfect! I became a vegetarian about six weeks ago, and I have been wondering the same thing- why do we need non-meat products that are designed to look and taste like meat? But I find the dairy products like almond cheese to be even worse offenders…

  28. I have been a vegetarian for 6 years or so now, and my god it’s annoying how people act around us sometimes. There is so much assumption to who/what we are as soon as we say we don’t eat meat! I’m beginning to hate the question “why did you become a vegetarian” because I have no idea how to answer it. I don’t know, why do you eat meat? I just don’t like the idea of it, that’s all. You can have your steak I don’t care.

    Sorry, I could probably write a whole post on this nonsense myself, haha.

    The fake meat things are pretty gross 99% of the time, although veggie burgers are delicious. Fake chicken nuggets are the WORST. It just feels wrong to eat them. Why would I want to eat something that tastes like something I’ve made a conscious choice to avoid in my diet?

    great post, and congrats on Freshly Pressed!

    • it’s true- I know sometimes people are just curious/interested, but it’s stil hard when you have to answer it.. I’m like you and find it difficult to put into words- especially because I’ve changed so much myself since I made the decision to become vegetarian. My reasons now are not the same as they used to be! Thanks for the congrats, and for reading :)

  29. I am a vegetarian and I can say it is difficult at best living in the panhandle of Texas. I find I do not miss meat when I take the time to properly prepare my veg meals. I do see the issue repeatedly at restaurants as there is one restaurant in a town 30 miles from where I live that even has a vegetarian item on the menu. Meat substitutes, more like gas inducers, or fire in the whole, its is just gross.

  30. I’ve been a vegetarian for 5 years, and I’m currently going to school in Utah. Utah is definitely a hard state for a vegetarian to live in, with Mormons being so meat-happy all the time. Fortunately, Morningstar Farms products are awarded an entire single-section freezer door in most grocery stores. I don’t think that they taste all that bad, but I am much more fond of the ones that don’t try to masquerade as meat. I would rather have a spicy black bean burger than a chik’n patty any day.
    The best solution for me so far, however, has been my love of ethnic food. Not Americanized foods, mind you, but the real deal. Almost all ethnic restaurants of all nationalities have offered me a wider variety of vegetarian meals than any American restaurant could hope to offer me. None of them try to pretend they’re something they’re not, either. Italian gives me great pasta and vegetable options, Asian food is largely noodles and vegetables as well, with the occasional tofu. Even authentic Mexican food has great fried vegetables or spinach enchiladas, complete with rice and beans. The only time I’ve had a problem with foreign food was when I went to a Peruvian restaurant, which consisted almost wholly of meat and spice. Even then I still found an egg and tomato salad.

    • Totally with you on this one- I love Indian food for this especially.. and mexican is a great idea I don’t think about very often. I will definitely check that out next time I’m in need of a suggestion ;)

  31. I worked at a health food store for a long time. And while I wasn’t vegetarian at the time, I tried many of the meat-like “options” that the place offered. I’ve never understood why they spend so much energy on trying to make something taste like hamburger, bacon, or turkey. It just never will. Instead spend your energy and make something that tastes much more delicious.

    I’ve lived a meat-centric lifestyle for so long, and I love bacon, fried chicken and meat-lovers pizzas. But if I’m going veggie, I’m not even going to try to attempt these. Why ruin my immaculate image I have of these great meals with a tarnished facsimile.

    I talk a little bit about it in my blog. http://lessmeattreats.wordpress.com/

    Cheers!

  32. I am a vegetarian…for about 20 years now and I can attest that the choice are much better today than they were when I was a kid.

    Some of the meat substitutes are totally freaky and gross. There are a few I will not go near, but I do use the “fake ground beef” with some frequency. Not by itself, mind you, but it goes easily into enchiladas, pasta sauces, stews, etc.

    I think being a vegetarian has made me a better cook. It forces creativity in the kitchen.

    Love your blog. Happy to have found it (congrats on Freshly Pressed!)

    • glad to have you! :) I can see what you’re saying about the fake ground beef- those meat substitutes taste better when mixed into something, cause then it’s really more about the texture anyway

  33. I especially enjoy it when people laugh in my face when I ask for a sandwich and “hold the chicken” or something, because they have absolutely no other options. Even better is that they still charge me the $8 for the sandwich even though it’s basically bread, greens, cheese and a few mushy tomatoes or cucumbers. THAT’s FAIR!
    But 15 or so years in, I’ve gotten used to life’s unfairness and accept that it just costs more to eat healthy.
    And I agree, avoid vegan cheese at all costs! It’s consistency is similar to chewed up chic-lets that have been used up way past their prime.

    I will admit my one guilty pleasure is Morningstar breakfast patties. Mmmm, fake sausage! Also, my daughter has been eating their Chik’n nuggets for years thinking they are the real thing. I know they aren’t great for her, but WAY better than the actual nuggets she always asks for. One day I’ll tell her and we’ll have a good laugh….but not until she’s in college!

  34. I ♥ Vegetarian food, even though I’m not a vegatarian. lol

    I prefer veggie & bean burgers over hamburgers, and I loooooooove tofu. Especially in wraps.

    However.

    I don’t think I could live without seafood. I was introduced to shellfish as an adult (my parents followed the old testament rules of the bible when it came to our diet, unfortunately), and I instantly fell in love (and became addicted) to scallops, shrimp, lobster, etc. Oh, and sushi. I don’t know what I would do without my weekly fix.

  35. I could not have penned these words better myself. As a new vegetarian, I have found the meat look-alike foods to be quite unappealing as well. Freudian — that just about sums it up. I have many progressive friends who have been vegetarian and/or vegan for quite some time. I must say that I have been guilty of inviting them over for dinner without fully understanding that simply eating the side vegetables was not enough to make a meal and that I was in fact cheating them out of the culinary experience that other guests had. Now that the tables have turned, I feel so bad for my oversights. And yeah, I really need restaurants to understand that not every vegetarian entree has to start with eggplant.

  36. I know how you feel; I’m a lefty, I’m religious amid many strong atheists, have very unusual tastes in food, and a whole host of other things. I have always wanted to be vegetarian, actually, but have never “officially” became vegetarian because I felt bad making other people cook specially for me (or having THEM feel bad when I don’t eat their fancy roasted pig!). Props to you for being vegetarian, though! I admire you for that.
    Oh and also, I quite like veggie burgers, tofu, and etc. :)

  37. I’m not a vegetarian, but I understand your plight. We raised pigs this past summer, with much care and attention paid to their health and happiness. After getting to know pigs personally I’ve decided I can no longer, never again in my life, eat a factory farmed pig. I want to raise the meat I eat, or I can live without. This decision has caused strange problems at home. If we go out for breakfast I get…”OMG, what are you going to eat!” As if bacon is the only viable breakfast option. If my boyfriend’s mother makes store bought ham (no joke, we have 300 pounds of pork in a chest freezer and the woman still can’t resist a Costco special) I get odd looks all through dinner because I’m either not eating it, or I’ve cooked a bit of homegrown meat for myself. These are the people with whom I raised the pigs, and I’m crazy? I never realized how sticky, moral food choices can be. I wish you luck and congrats on Freshly Pressed!

    • I think that what you are doing is really commendable – no matter what your friends/family might think of it. For me, it’s all about being aware of the things we’re eating – the effects it has on us/the animal, and how it got to our table. Nice to see you are thinking about it too! :)

  38. im also a vegetarian and get told at work on a regular basis that i am a failure and that the human race was bought up to eat meat. without meat there is no survival (which i might add is a TAD over the top). I mainly eat pulses, nuts, tofu, falafel and particularly enjoy soups at the moment.
    HOWEVER i went into tesco the other day, tried to buy tomato and chipotle soup, looked on the label and it said unsuitable for vegetarians. now explain to me this, WHAT exactly are you putting in the soup to make it unvegitarian?? hmmmmmm….

    • whaaat where do you work, and do you need an employment lawyer?? haha. That is ridiculous though – it amazes me the ignorant things that can come out of some people’s mouths. Good on you for sticking with it though… p.s. I had to look up what “pulses” were. Does that make me a bad vegetarian??

  39. Loved this. All of the above is true.
    Made me think of something my philosophy prof said the other day:

    “Eating ‘vegan pork’ is like saying ‘I didn’t spit in your face, but I spat on a picture of you’”

    As a vegetarian, I find there is absolutely no point in eating fake meat. Seriously, if you want to eat something that tastes like chicken, just eat chicken! No one is going to judge you.

    I admit though, when I first decided to stop eating meat, I tried the stuff–needless to say, I was completely turned off.

    I hate the label that comes with going “meat-less”–do we go around calling so called normal people “carnivores” or “omnivores”? When did it become okay to consider that a meal could only be complete with at least a piece of some sort of meat?

    There’s something to be learned in all of this–the fact that western society has been brain-washed into believing that protein can only come from other animals.

    ANYWAY, sorry for the rant! Haha, I’m just sick of having to justify my choice to everything person i meet (“but…why?”)–letting go of the frustration now! :P

    • If you’re sick of justifying your choice to the people you meet, why tell them that you’re a vegetarian? Why would that even come up? I woke up a vegetarian one day, totally disgusted with the thought of putting meat in my mouth. 5 years later I woke up and wanted a steak. I eat what my body wants, sometimes vegetarian, sometimes meat. But I don’t tell people about it. I just eat.

      • I usually do keep my thoughts on eating/not eating meat to myself- but sometimes it comes up in situations like dinner parties, work functions, etc. when you order the vegetarian option…although most of the time people are really nice and even interested, sometimes people want to argue or make you justify it.. which is not so much fun. I totally agree though that everyone should make the best choice for themselves, whether that’s eating meat or not!

      • I totally support that–but I’m usually not the one to randomly point out that I’m vegetarian; it mostly just happens when i’m with a group of people trying to figure out what or where we’re going to eat. In the end, it’s your choice, why should anyone else care??

        We’ve never been big meat-eaters at home, but about two years ago, I decided to stop eating meat, at first for ecological reasons (factory farming is the worst thing to ever happen to the planet), an as I did more and more research, it became more about being ethical, and realizing that in today’s society there is absolutely no need for humans to eat other animals. We have access to so much other food, that taste–to me–is not a justifiable reason to eat it.

      • The best thing to happen in my life was discovering quinoa. Do you eat it? So yummy, and you can essentially eat it with/in anything! Annnnnd it’s one of the only *whole* proteins out there :) better than any meat!

        Your “pizza” made me wish I was back in Italy–only the best pizza on Earth–and guess what? The original/most popular has nothing but tomato sauce, mozzarella, and origano! My mouth is watering at the thought of it. haha

  40. My husband and I are both vegetarians(he eats fish still though). I honestly am happy to see the growing number of meatless options out there. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some that I have tried in the past that I could go the rest of my life without eating again, but after some trials and testing we have found certain brands for every type of meat that we are trying to replace; we really enjoy them and are grateful for the option. For example, we use the Gardein brand for our “chicken” strips and they are fabulous IMHO. Same brand for the beef-less “steak” tips, my husband makes a yummy sauce to dip them in and they are also wonderful. You can also throw them in a veg stew to hearty it up, just make sure to throw them in last! Check out Gardein for sure, they are a step above. None of them taste EXACTLY like what they are meant to be substituting, but these are definitely close enough, the closest I have discovered. We have also made an amazing meat loaf using crumbles, can’t remember what kind off the top of my head, would have to ask my hubby. I think its great that you are a vegetarian, its so much healthier for you and for the environment, so try not to get discouraged. Feel free to message me if you would like some more brands that we use :) You’ve got a great blog here too btw!
    Cheers!
    Karen

  41. As a meat eater, I’ve always wondered why vegetarian food is often made to look and sound like meat. Why can’t it just be vegetarian in its own, unique way? I think it’s time people stopped marketing to vegetarians as if they *are* meat eaters. And think outside the eggplant skin, too. There must be zillions of ways to create appetizing and intriguingly-named food without pretending that it’s meat—those marketers might want to look beyond the meat-obsessed culture we live in, and around the world where many people eat vegetarian diets. Even as a meat eater, I appreciate vegetarians and vegans, and mix up my weekly diet with legumes. I think everyone can benefit from balance and moderation. Thanks for your post!

  42. “unfounded assumption that all vegetarians have a chronic case of meat-envy.” – Not all vegetarians do, that’s why we create food and recipes using fresh fruit, veggies, grains. But for those vegetarians who struggle with the craving for burgers and sausages, the faux meats are a great tool to help them remain vegetarian when tempted to eat meat. I think it is borderline insulting to call those vegetarians dumb. They are doing their part to make this world a better place and shouldn’t be belittled or criticized because they like imitation meats. Just my humble opinion.

    • Hi Courtney-
      I TOTALLY agree that not all vegetarians have a chronic case of meat-envy, and in fact most don’t! I was just poking some light-hearted fun at the fact that veg products are modelled to look like meat when that’s what we’ve chosen to get up. I think to each their own- if you like the meat substitutes, I’m not throwing any stones… and I’m definitely not calling these people dumb! That comment was a joke and please don’t take it out of context- I think vegetarians are some of the smartest, savviest, most kind-hearted people out there. I should know, I am one ;)
      Thanks a lot for reading, and for your thoughts-
      Breezyk

  43. I’m a longtime vegan, and although I often like mock meat products I don’t try to eat them too often. I love to cook and find most vegan and vegetarian ingredients are much more flavorful in their natural form. Most of what my husband and I eat are beans and grain dishes, or different types of ethnic foods. It’s very rare either of us actually crave meat and look to substitute it, though we’re extremely fortunate we have Foodswings in our neighborhood (a vegan fast food place known nationwide who’s food is known to fool even the biggest meat fans).

    I totally agree though on the processed food not tasting like the real thing deal. While I love daiya, it’s not the same as real cheese. Nonetheless I’ve come to love it more anyway more so because of how I feel not eating the real thing. I feel better from a compassionate standpoint, as well as digestive as well (most people are lactose intolerant and don’t even know it). At least now I can still have my cheese and not a stomach ache with it too.

  44. As a meat eater, I can understand why they make vegetarian frozen food look like actual meat. They’re trying to capture a larger audience and well, this meat-eater can say…I hate tofu. I hate the look of it. I hate the feel of it. BUT…you put a Morningstar Farms buffalo boneless chik’n wing in front of me and I scarf that bad boy down. I love those things!

  45. Super funny!

    I will tell you why soy-based ‘fun’ food marketers call things what they aren’t. people like me. :P

    I’m 34 and not a vegetarian per se, but since I can’t digest dairy or beef properly, it makes me feel ‘normal’ to eat something called chickn even if it tastes more like ass.

  46. Well, here’s an opinion from the frozen North (Sweden). I think the trick is to re-think how to eat and skip the meat sauce potatoes paradigm and cook a number of things. I like Italian and Indian food where you eat more than one dish. If you want to cook food, you have to start with the best possible ingredients and artificial products out of the food industry does quite frankly not fall into that category. Tofu, nice as it is, hopeless when it comes to pretend to be a part of a dead animal.

    Try translating this: http://anneshus.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/vagen-till-battre-mat/ with Google translate (Swedish to English) and see what you make out of it.

  47. and those gd tofu pups, will not stay on a stick! Lost a whole pack into the fire at a kids’ cookout, one by one, almost done – ooops! right off the stick. They don’t roast that great either – they just get hot and blistered. And tough as leather. We tried to please our vegetarian friends, but ended up heading over to 7-11 for a pack of meat pups.

    I always wondered, why would a vegetarian need a product that looks like meat or dairy? Gimme Lean? Fakin’ Bacon? Hemp cheese?!?

    Here’s a funny story: my friend worked for years on his “meat of wheat”, which my husband and I always called, “lumpy gravy”. It tasted like a boiled towel, but it looked soooo real! He took it to a potluck wedding, the bride’s family all coming in from the city – buncha meat eaters and sports fans. “wow!” they said, “look at that beautiful pot-roast!” And they loaded it onto their plates. And then they came back from their tables in a veritable conga-line to throw it in the trash! Low class, very gauche.

    Same thing happened with my tofu chocolate moose pie. Lesson learned.

    Happy Fat Tuesday Girl!

  48. I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life and am actually skeeved out by simulation meat. It is totally psychological, but I am just not a fan. In actuality, these products are mainly for those that have become vegetarian but still miss the taste of meat. It is not intended to taste exactly like meat, but to come pretty close.

    If you ever need help on what to eat whether out or at home, I can gladly help. As I mentioned, I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life but I don’t just eat salads and fruit because that’s just not satisfying at all. I write quite about it on my blog **shameless plug** :)

  49. I have been a life-long vegetarian, have never eaten meat, fish, seafood. It is a lot easier now, hard as it sounds for all of you, to be a vegetarian in the West now than it used to be over 30 years ago. Indian restaurants always have vegetarian options as so many Indians are vegetarians. Indian grocery stores offer lots of wonderful tasting vegetarian frozen foods for when you need a quick meal (Deep Foods and Mirch Masala are the best brands). Many of our vegetarian friends and college students seem to love the options at Trader Joe’s. We always find good options in Middle Eastern, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. Mostly though we cook at home as we make it to our taste, with lower fat and sodium. I don’t care for very fussy recipes that involve tons of chopping and cleaning up for everyday meals. And you can cook larger amounts to take to work or to last 2-3 days so you don’t have to cook every day. See if some of the recipes on http://www.mahasriyoga.com/recipes are appealing–many are vegan, low-carb, and gluten-free. Vegetarian food is fun, delicious, nutritious, and can be inexpensive. I would say that it is considered to be pretty cool these days!

    I am not sure where this idea of “stupid vegetarians” comes from. See this list of famous vegetarians: Gustav Mahler, Franz Kafka, Confucius, Christine Lagarde, Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Plato, Pythagoras, Ovid, and the list goes on. I would say we are in enlightened company!

    • I totally agree- I think vegetarians are brilliant! (mostly cause I am one ;) That comment I made about vegetarians being stupid was just meant to be a joke and not to offend anyone at all- I’m sorry if it did!

  50. i am a vegetarian and a leftie too!

    so called meat substitutes, and i’ve eaten many, never taste like their silly names. that’s just lame marketing mumbo jumbo even so, sometimes they do taste good. i love faux bologna and vegan veggie burgers. but then i like plain tofu as well.

    i don’t eat fake meats to statisfy meat cravings (which i don’t have). i eat it for the protein, the convenience and because i like the taste.

  51. I was actually a vegetarian for about 17 years and just recently started eating meat. I could no longer deal with how processed vegetarian products were. If I want to eat clean, healthy and organic, I need to eat food that isn’t messed with.

  52. Can I just say thank you for writing this!? I was never really a big meat eater and since I became a vegetarian, I find my biggest peeve is people trying to get me to eat the substitutes of things I never liked in the first place. I thought that being a vegetarian would be pretty easy for others to understand, maybe not my reasons, but definitely the execution. I’m always a little amused when I tell people I’m a vegetarian and they ask, a little dumbfounded, “So what do you eat?!” Then I explain that while, I sometimes eat tofu and tempeh, a bulk of my diet comes from these things called… vegetables.

  53. I almost died laughing reading this, not just because it is funny but because it is true. It is also the same commentary my poor husband is forced to listen to while we are out grocery shopping. I rarely do the “fake meat” thing. First, I am insulted by the insinuation that I clearly want to eat meat even though I am a vegetarian. Second, there is even more weird and unidentifiable stuff in the fake meat than there is in just eating a steak. ICK!

  54. I love your style of writing. I am easing myself into the process of becoming vegetarian purely for the health benefits alone. Everyone always assumes that vegetarians don’t get enough protein but with all the soy and bean alternatives to meat that you touched on…we are actually getting better..and healthier protein than meat eaters. I recently tried tofu for the first time and I find myself preferring the extra-firm sort. Isn’t that a weird adjective for your food, “extra firm”?
    I do think it is interesting how you touched onthe fact that companies do think we have meat envy, that was hilarious and SO TRUE! The only reason I am not a 100% vegetarian is my love for chicken wings not sausage, steak and burgers.

  55. Pingback: Blog Comments | Jessica Heitzman

  56. Yes!!! I am a vegetarian and it absolutely blows my mind that (1) People think eggplant can be appetizing if not fried to an un-recognizable crisp and stuffed between cheese and tomato sauce and (2) why on earth they actually attempt to make fake meat taste/look like meat. It generally grosses me out when I can’t tell the difference between fake and real sausage in my communal fridge. I also don’t like the taste of meat, so there’s that too.

    On the other hand, that pink fake bacon stuff is definitely NOT meat, but just bizzare in its own way.

  57. Yeah, I don’t really get the whole “fake” meats thing. I’d rather eat and enjoy whole, actual foods that are alternatives to meat and dairy. My sister makes a pasta topping that’s a modification of the Almesan recipe in Veganomicon. It’s great on top of pasta, or roast veggies, but it’s nothing close to parmesan. And I’m fine with that.

    It’s like…if you’re not going to drink alcohol, have a juice. Have an Italian soda. But non-alcoholic beer is ridiculous.

  58. Great post! I’m by no means a vegetarian, don’t think I ever could be, but I have reduced my meat intake just because of certain vegetarian like ways of thinking. Mainly the meat industry grosses me out, shit the food industry in general grosses me out but there aren’t many options an extremely lazy person has in that respect. Anyways I think its a great point you bring up, I’ve always thought vegetarians should have more options, or even a show on the food network, cause I’d definitely be curious to try a fancy vegetarian meal. And the whole fake meat thing is ridiculous. Stop trying to get food that isn’t meat to taste like it and experiment making vegetarian dishes all the more delicious in their own way…

  59. Love this post! I can completely relate to it. I use veggie substitutes only because it’s just easier to take a typical meat eaters menu and change the protein. I love these meatless meatballs and never actually use them with pasta.

    The one thing that bugs me about veggie substitutes is that you’re inevitably asked by friends/families/strangers, “Does it really taste like meat?” No! It doesn’t. If I wanted to eat meat, I’d eat meat. lol.

  60. I feel you on the left-handed vegetarian thing. It’s a cruel world out there for us.

    However, I’m not really appalled by the false veggie foods. I always preface a curious consumer with the phrase, “If you think of it as a whole new food, not a perfect clone of something, you’ll probably like it”.

    I also feel like the deeper you fall into the “abyss” that is vegetarianism, the less dependent you are on the meat replacements… but they sure as hell made the transition easier. : )

  61. I’m vegetarian, and I do the mock meat thing. They work well in Asian inspired dishes, because their function is basically textural. The flavour in most East Asian chicken dishes doesn’t come from the chicken, it comes form the oil, seasoning and sauce.

    To the people saying “I thought the idea was to not do the meat thing.” I’m not doing the meat thing. Veggie chicken is not made out of chicken. If I decide I want something which has the same texture as a chicken thigh to hold up a sesame-soy sauce, then I’ll use veggie chicken. If I want something with a mild seafood flavour to carry a lemon sauce, I’ll use veggie tilefish (the seaweed pretending to be skin gives it the seafood flavor, and it has the bland texture of fish which contrasts with a fried coating.). So, the point is texture.

    On a bigger issue, has anyone noticed that there are a huge number of vegos who spend an awful lot of time telling other vegos they are doing it wrong? If you’d like to see the point of mock meat, try some cookbooks by a tenzo (Buddhist monastic chef). They invented mock meats a few hundred years ago so that they could cook for meat eaters, to support their monasteries.

  62. I am not a vegetarian, but in my quest to at least occasionally eat healthy (ha!) I have tried many of those vegetarian products and/or entrees. And I AGREE! Great post! Had me laughing for sure. The vegan “cheese” throws me the most: odd-textured vegetable proteins pressed into flat slices, colored and labeled “cheese” – um, you’re not fooling anyone! And how often do people who have dedicated themselves to a lifestyle of healthier eating really want to consume odd, fake food? It’s like all the diet foods out there – if I wanted a forbidden food while on a diet, I’d just go for the real chocolate, thanks!

    • eww I know vegan cheese is nast-ayy. I had a roommate who was lactose intolerant and used to eat soy cheese all the time. The stuff doesn’t even melt. There is something extremely suspicious about that to me.

  63. Yes, I am a vegetarian (6 years), and I’ve tried some of the vegetarian substitutes. My taste buds seems to favor the MorningStar brand overall. The “Chik’n Nuggets” worked well for my kids when they were younger. My daughter, who’s 20 and a vegetarian, loves the veggie “corn dogs.” And I like a veggie hot dog now and again smothered in stuff — tomatoes, relish, ketchup, and vegan mayo. Mind you, this is NOT the kind of stuff we normally eat. I prepare a lot of soups, casseroles, salads, pasta, burritos, curries, and occasional stir-fry recipes and frittatas. But once in a blue moon I do want a hot dog (never steak — funny the things we crave) and I’m glad for the fake veggie versions.

  64. I love your post! I’ve been vegetarian for about 8 years now, and most of the time, I’d rather eat an actual meal. I used to eat them all the time when I first became vegetarian, but with the prices for a lot of the meat alternatives out there, I’d much rather cook.

    Some of them are okay, and there are others that I don’t like. I try to keep something on hand, for days when I don’t want to cook or when I don’t feel like eating leftovers.

  65. I feel your pain. I’m a vegan and constantly labelled ‘the freak of the group’ by my carnivorous friends who all assume that I just love tofu and lentil burgers. They’re wrong. Both of the aforementioned foods are disgusting. All I want are some deep-fried potato chips or a peanut butter sandwich. Faux-meat and foods tailor-made for the vegan community seriously disappoint me.

  66. I know what you mean! I’ve been a vegetarian more than half my life, and I gave up meat to, ummmmmm, GIVE UP MEAT! I don’t want to give up meat to eat replacements trying to replicate it. I can only imagine/assume the companies do this to give someone a food to compare it to and to feel comfortable. I love a tofu pup or brat at a cookout to fit it and remember what it was like before I gave up meat, but overall, the whole unprocessed foods taste better than any fake “meat” I’ve had.

  67. I hear ya! There are very *hmmm* , lets call them ‘interesting’ interpretations of vegetarian or vegan food out there. Gotta love the effort, though, that’s at least a start! If they are trying, I’m willing to go with it ;)

  68. Love this post! I was vegetarian for one year, and while I loved it (despite it’s difficulties here and there), I too was annoyed with all of the fake meat products. Schneider’s Chick’N was the only product I tasted that even remotely resembled the taste and texture of chicken. Don’t even get me started on tofurkey. Bleh. It’s a bit frustrating too, because too much soy is not good for a person either, yet vegetarian products are described as being so much healthier than meat!

    • I know, it’s a total catch 22. Everything is bad for you in some way or another.. I’ll have to look for that Schnieder’s Chick’N maybe… you never know, if it’s good enough I might end up having to do a retraction post….

  69. Haha love it! I’m a Pescetarian (try explaining THAT to someone) in a culture where meat is considered food – if you didn’t eat meat for lunch/dinner, you haven’t had food.
    I totally don’t get the imitation meats… I actually get pretty grossed out by them :p

  70. First: that horrible pizza! o.O
    I’m vegetarian and confess that almost every day try to eat something on the street is a difficulty. I think when people think that being a vegetarian is going to be something different too well. = (

    ps: sorry for the english, but I’m from Brasil. ;)

  71. Fortunately now things are getting a lot better – at least here in the Washington DC area. More and more vegan and vegetarian restaurants are popping up. Also I have just discovered how great Indian restaurants are for vegan food. The only fake meat food I usually eat are veggie burgers.

    Great post and congrats on the freshly pressed.

    • I LOVE indian food for veg choices. And you’re lucky about the restaurants- Toronto is getting better too… soon vegetarians will take over the world! (too far?)

  72. I think that perhaps you are too harsh on vegans. A lot of their foods would water the mouth of any sharp-toothed meat lover such as myself. My vegan friend made me a black bean burger once, and it was absolutely delicious

    • Yumm. That does sound good. Don’t get me wrong- I love vegan/vegetarian food when it’s done well, and especially when it’s made from real ingredients. It’s just these artificial fake meat products that give me the heeby jeebies!

  73. Not vegetarian related, but related to advertisers thinking people are stupid: at my local pizza place, they had a list of “gluten free” toppings. But, of course, what would those “toppings” being going on”top” of? There was no mention of a gluten free pizza crust.

    • haha that’s a little ridiculous… it reminds me of potato chips that have no “trans fat” but still a boatload of saturated fat… selective advertising at its finest

  74. Have to ask – did you survive the “pizza” that you ate? I know you said it wasn’t too bad, but I’ve said the same about a few dishes and have paid the price for it later on. That said, I commend you for being a vegetarian and sticking it out; I’m in the same boat with ya. If you come across anything that goes beyond edible and straight into good food, I hope you’ll write a blog about it, as I’m certain there’s many of us who’d love to hear your thoughts!

  75. I’m a vegetarian for one year (I’m 7 months in) to practice eating better; I’m just more aware of what I’m eating when I delete the meat. And I agree with you — I have made it a practice to avoid fake meat. Someone once gave me a “grillerz” burger & it was all so wrong…

  76. I’m not a strict vegetarian but after a few eye-opening university classes of my own a few years back, I drastically cut down on my meat eating. Sometimes it’s months without eating meat, other time just a few days, but for someone who grew up eating rice and meat (and barely any vegetables) it’s a huge change.

    This post really resonated with me because when I’m out eating with friends, I feel (unnecessarily) that I have to explain or justify my actions to stop from being viewed as that “dumb” stereotype. For me, being vegetarian (even if part-time) isn’t about finding weird, non-food, meat substitutes. I have sensitivities to soy and some dairy, so I like to focus on actual foods I can eat. I’ll take a black bean or garbanzo burger over the frozen “veggie” burger patties any day.

    It’s strange how being vegetarian became synonymous with soy hot dogs, fake chicken and other “substitutes” that aren’t good for you when in fact many vegetarians choose to be so for health (among other) reasons.

    Thanks for this!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and that you could relate to it- I am the same way, I’d much rather have real food than processed/soy based products any day. Good luck with everything, and thanks for reading :)

  77. Loved your post! I’ve been a strict lacto-ovo vegetarian for 17 years now. I never cared for meat and quit eating it when I was 13 years old. While I love some of the veggie products out there, I am still befuddled about why they try to make them look like meat. If I wanted meat, I’d just go to the dead animal aisle!

    And I really wish restaurants would serve up more vegetarian options, but I made that choice and it’s definitely an existence in the minority!

  78. I tried to be a vegetarian a few years ago. Despite my best efforts I wasn’t eating right so I started eating meat. I expect I will covert again at some point in my life, but I’m not ready yet.
    I do eat some of the “veggie” products you mentioned. I understand where you are coming from but for me, having the name of what it is similar to (at least for the patties) does help me figure out what I might like.
    There are a lot more options available now than when I tried it, but its true, there are limited options when eating out.

  79. I call myself an omnivore because I eat meat if it’s put in front of me and at home MAYBE once a week. Maybe. I just don’t like what it does to my gut. Anyway, my first exposure to vegetarianism was in the 70′s and this person was going on about tofu and how she could make it taste just like any kind of meat… and I was like why don’t you just eat meat then!? OR why don’t you just eat the darn tofu and enjoy it for what it is.?

    The thing I don’t get about the vegan diet is all the nonfood items they eat. This cannot be better than the eating of any other kind of nonfood items, like HFC’s and all those preservatives etc.

    I strongly support vegetarianism but do not understand all the fake foods.

    Great post!

  80. I’m vegan for about half the year for religious reasons. I never go for that imitation meat or cheese stuff – to me it has always tasted bad! I find vegetarian and sometimes even vegan options are not as hard to find at Mediterranean and Asian restaurants….the vegan options are definitely more limited!

  81. I’ve been a vegetarian for about years, and have recently decided to try being vegan with regard to commercial food (cheese/yogurt being the one thing holding me back) and bought some 100% vegan “cheese”. Sitting here with a terrible taste in my mouth, that will last well into morning, I am now certain that there is no substitute for cheese. You can’t fake it. This doesn’t even taste good enough to eat without thinking of it as cheese. Most of the alternative, “fake” products mislead the consumer. If you’re going to eat it, and enjoy it, you cannot associate it with the replaced meat product, or else there will be disappointment, particularly for people who still remember what that meat product actually tastes like. I’m beginning to wonder if this is a conspiracy by these companies to prevent any meat-eater from permanently converting, or maybe they really are trying to fill a niche.

    • ugh I feel your pain- that cheese is gross! And it’s so frustrating when you spend the money on it too but can’t eat it!
      I like where you’re going with the conspiracy theory… let me know if you make any headway

  82. I have been a vegetarian for a long time, and I completely agree with you–I cannot stand the mock meat dishes. Just call it something else, not tofurkey, just a tofu dish!

    Great post!

  83. Pingback: 15 OTHER BLOGGERS UNIQUE VOICES – 22.2.12 « Horiwood's Blog

  84. Awe! I was vegetarian for years, but when I got married (my first big mistake) it got to hard to not eat meat and slowly went back to meat. Now I am dealing with similar diet issues. I am lactose intolerant and recently became aware that I need to eliminate all wheat from my diet. No milk no wheat no barley no rye and no oats because of cross contamination. As much as I have been contemplating going back to vegetarianism, I have decided for now to eliminate wheat and dairy, and then limit my meat to small amounts. I love fish, so my goal is to make my meat portions mostly that. Now here is the deal try going to a restaurant and telling them that you can not have any dairy or gluten (wheat and such) in or even cooked near your food. You then tell them you are allergic! Still it is hard and I can tell when I get dairy in my food, as my throat starts to get tight and I start wheezing and coughing… People just don’t get it!

    People ask me how I live without dairy, and I just do it. I don’t expect almond milk to taste like milk. If I want whip cream on something I put what I call soy bubbles. My favorite food that is similar to ice cream but not is tofuti, and it is way better than ice cream any day. My solution to not eating bread and pasta is to just not eat it. I never ate fake meat when i was veggie

    I also get the “oh I could never quit eating those foods!” Of course I also gave up TV some time ago, and I get how can you not have a TV? question all the time too. It is easy just do it!

    Peace and Harmony,
    Sj

    • Oh I forgot to say mention that there are so many fresh wonderful foods, why do we need fake foods? Personally, when you can make a wonderful meal out of black beans or through a eleven bean soup mixture together with whole brown basmati or jasmine rice and pile high lots of veggies raw or barely steamed…. That is a meal for a king! It has all the aminos you need in it, and it tastes awesome! I am of the belief that if you never shop anywhere but the outer isles of the grocery store, and preferably organics you will be so much better off. One should not have to read a label to eat. Food that has labels for the most part is not good for you! I believe that food should not come in a box.
      imho

  85. While not a vegetarian myself, I am familiar with a lot of vegetarian substitute products, and while some are good in their own right, none of them could truly replace the real thing.

  86. Well, I dunno where you’re from, but if you’re ever in the Agawam, Massachusetts area, my cousin and his wife are vegetarians and own a pizza shop so they could hook you up with an awesome vegetarian pizza : D

  87. I’m a vegetarian – I transitioned last year. The biggest challenges for me have been finding something to replace eggs in baked goods and fighting serious hamburger cravings the first 6 months.

    Meat substitutes just confuse me. There is no veggie burger that even remotely passes for the real thing. I don’t see the point.

  88. I’ve been a vegetarian (more or less) for all almost-eighteen years of my (admittedly brief) life. It’s not that I have an issue with eating animals — although that was a case for almost six months, several years ago — it’s just that I don’t generally care for the way meat/chicken/pork/fish tastes. Because of this, I catch a lot of sh*t from both the vegetarian community (“You’re not really a vegetarian! You’re a fake!” etc etc) and the omnivore society (“What the hell is wrong with you? You don’t meat? Hippie.” etc etc). It ain’t easy.
    My mother tried for a while to get me to eat anything from turkey sausage (I still don’t see her logic in that one) to turkey flavored sausage (….) to tofu and so on, and each and every one was met with such hearty disgust that she eventually gave up and has allowed me to more or less cook my own meals for several years now.
    My one weakness is bacon, though. I will always love bacon. haha.

    • I agree so much, I don’t eat meat because I don’t care for it, & I get the same reactions. Although, I don’t like Bacon, far too salty! (Or maybe I just buy cheap bacon)

  89. LOL Awesome post. I am a “transitioning” vegetarian, meaning I am only eating meat 1-2 days a week at this point. I have taken this transition period in order to build up my arsenal of vegetarian recipes and restaurants. I am attempting to avoid running into problems like the one you shared in your post. Thanks for making me laugh!

  90. As a fellow vegetarian, all I can say is – hahaha – Love this post! Probably because it’s so true! Oh, and I love your writing style, too. :-) The two things I’ve missed most over the past ten years are barbecue sauce (tried fake pork ribs the other night – ugh) and corn dogs (no, I didn’t grow up in the South). The fake corn dogs are OK I guess with enough ketchup and mustard. Anyway, keep up the great blogging! (And – shameless self-promotion – check out my blog sometime, too)

  91. YES! I am left-handed and vegetarian too (not to mention white and Hindu) so I know what it is to live in a world not built for me/have to answer questions. I don’t mind the faux meats too much. Burger King has a veggie burger that I am currently loving. I like chik’N or whatever. But yeah I dont think its the shape of a burger or chicken nuggets that I miss, if I even do miss it. It has been hard to go out with non-veg friends but luckily I ended up in an Applebee’s with a long lost friend and the waitress noticed my distress in lack of options and she told me about a vegan pizza that is not on the menu but they’d whip one up for me. And it was GREAT! Ask at your local Applebee’s if you care to.

  92. I adored your post-it had me laughing aloud! Especially with the picture of the “pizza’, which actually does not look half bad! But yes, it is a rather pathetic excuse of a cuisine that has been dubbed such a name as “pizza”!

    While I am not technically a vegetarian, I do not eat any products derived from cow or pig, and so I can really relate to how difficult it is to make sound food choices while not seeming like a huge weirdo to your peers. In fact, I have a REALLY SHORT semi-amusing/really weird story about it!

    This past summer, I went to a county fair with friends, and after visiting all the attractions and going on all the rides, we each went into different directions to find carnival foods that would fulfill our hunger. Of coarse, I was surrounded by stands that offered “state of the art” county fair food, which of coarse entailed pretty much every type of meat you could think of. I was determined to find the best vegetarian option possible, that beat just the typical lame salad-which most places often botch, because really, high-quality salads are one of their smallest priorities!

    So about ten minutes later, we all meet up at our arranged spot. One friend arrives with a hot dog, another with a hamburger, another with fried chicken, and all three of them look over at me as I come in last…Munching on a giant pickle on a stick….Yeah. They still make fun of me for it. But, on a positive note, it was actually really good, and after getting them all to try it, they all got pickles of their own, which, truth be told, actually turned out to be the food known as “a county favorite”! Who knew?

    Being a vegetarian, while it can pose some inconveniences, can definitely open the door to new discoveries. =)

  93. I’ve been a vegetarian for about seven years, and I have been fooled many a times. And sadly, they haven’t all tasted all that great at all. If they invented names for the meat product in the first place, I don’t see why it would be that hard to come up with names for the veggie substitutes. One of those mysteries…

  94. I liked your post. My husband and I decided to become vegan over a year ago and juice once a day or twice if we can. We found the Hallelujah Diet through friends at church. The younger wife wanted to keep her husband alive longer and started searching the web. We are not able to keep at it as much as we would like, but we definitely feel better when we avoid meat and dairy. Your blog tells it like it is. We’re born again Christians. Talk about being on the outside sometimes. I always seem to go against the norm, even when I first became a mother. I decided to nurse my baby because in my psychology class in college, I learned that if you touched a baby’s cheek, the child turned to find the food. I figured if it was a built in instinct to nurse, God must want babies to nurse. My mom was against it, my best friend was against it. What the heck. So, keep writing, you are good at it, in my opinion. :)

  95. In general, I agree…I’m more than happy to eat tofu-stuffed bell peppers, grain salads, pizzas topped with cashews and caulifowers…I am a vegetarian primarily because I love eating vegetables!

    There is one fake meat that I will make an exception for, though, and that if seitan fried chicken: http://voraciouseats.com/2008/07/17/chicken-fried-seitan/

    Properly made (don’t over-knead it!), it is better than any fried chicken I’ve ever had. :)

  96. I <3 raw food. In fact, I make a living off the fact that I can make nuts taste like cheese… so this blog is a little sad to me, especially since it's written by a vegetarian.

  97. I think the raw vegan pizza in your post looks delicious! I guess they don’t have to call it “pizza” —but what else would they call it? A lot of raw vegan dishes are named after conventional menu items —- probably because well, what else would you call them?

    For those of us “trying out” a raw, vegan diet, we KNOW raw vegan pizza is going to taste very different from Pizza Hut pizza. We know this. But we call it pizza anyway, probably, to give us a rough idea of what the item will be like. If you had just seen “thin walnut crust, herb pesto, arugula, artichokes, mushrooms, and cashew chevre” on the menu without the words “Pizza” you probably wouldn’t have been able to figure out exactly what this item was, and probably wouldn’t have ordered it. I guess they could have called it a “Tostada” or “veggie flatbread”? But then you would have felt like this is nothing like the mexican tostadas you’ve eaten.

    By the way, great post!

  98. I was a vegetarian for 8 years… I ate meat again last September. I still can’t believe I did but the only think I really eat now is chicken just as before. I did eat ALOT of meat substitutes when I was vegetarian, because I hadn’t eatten meat in a while the spicy “chicken” boca burgers did fool my tastes buds. To me it tasted pretty real hahaha. Over all living the veggie life wasn’t as healthy for my body as I thought it would be nor were the soy products I consumed daily!! Its totally crazy!

  99. From an Omnivore: my personal experience with “fake meat” ranges from not-bad to “where’s the pu-e – bucket”. I think it all stems from attempting to simulate complexity: meat protein goes through many many processes to get to the food stage for us carnivores…plant growth, animal consumption, digestion, conversion to muscle, use as muscle…..
    Pretty darn hard to replicate via “cost effective” food processing of Tofu etc to final product.
    It sure would be interesting if wine production or scotch production “attention” and “refinement” were applied to veg-only protein products.

  100. Love your post! I’ve been a vegetarian for 36 years and never seen such a great, fun summation of what really is a ridiculous premise. Why would we choose not to eat meat and then require a substitute? And, seriously, veg restaurants, lighten up!! As for the friend and family issue, I’ve never had any real problems. Oh, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. You deserve it!

  101. I love this post! Although I admit I love many of my faux meat staples, it does get ridiculous at times. Tuno? NaCheez? LOL And why is it that no matter where you go, your vegetarian choice is eggplant!!?? I am so sick of eggplant! I now tell people I’m a vegetarian that hates vegetables because of the eggplant thing.

  102. hello iam a veggie from birth.I just do not think there has been any problem with the variety of food we can eat.I just do not think that i live a Camel Life by being a veggie.In fact u will be surprised to see the wide variety of fruits and vegetables we can have just by not harming other living beings.If u need some recipe do reply i will surely send some of the best one.

  103. I have eaten the odd soya mince… but yes, I too find it weird to consume “fake meat” that tastes like breakfast cereal. (Extremely freaky bar none.)
    I’d happily eat a well prepared meal of veggies…

  104. OMG I totally feel you! I’m not a vegetarian anymore but I still enjoy vegetarian meals, the real stuff, not the processed soy-meat-whannabes. If I wanted a burger, I’d eat a real one.

  105. Thanks for saving the environment by turning vegetarian.
    Thanks for keeping bacteria and viruses that infect all birds and animals away from your family.
    Thanks for keeping it up in a majority meat eating society.
    If you are short of good items to eat, please switch to Indian (and especially Gujarati) cooking. India has long and strong tradition of vegetarianism. Especially the state of Gujarat boasts 85% (yes, 85%) population vegetarians.
    Once again, thanks for being a sensitive individual.

  106. I’m a vegetarian by ‘birth’..(by which i mean it’s a thing that the community to which I belong in India follows )… I have occasionally “tasted” non-veg (thats we call meat here :P)… I’ve liked fish but I haven’t been particularly enamoured by any of the options out there. Even though so many people I know make fun of us :).. but it’s accepted because it is a part of our culture.. and there’s so many delicious veggie dishes out here (incl proper pizzas!)…which would probably take some getting used to for those with western palates. The meat-eaters here have no big problems with it. So.. all I can say is I’m sorry you don’t have so many options! It must be hard. Why the switch to vegetarianism though, I’m curious to know.

  107. I tried it for a month and hated it. I’m so conflicted. I love animals but why do they have to be so damn tasty? Regardless, I did try a lot of good vegetarian products I still eat today, like this one spicy Italian tofu sausage I use in my 15 bean soup.

  108. I totally understand. I don’t eat meat, and recently it seems to be harder to stick to this (I just became vegan). I’ve never understood why companies seem to think we do still want to eat burgers, or weiners. I don’t want to be reminded of what I choose not to eat! Why not make something completely new and different? As you say, its entirely obvious a mushroom is never going to be a burger. So why stick it between bread when you can have baked mushrooms or something?

    Totally baffling. Oh, and that stuff they call cheese but isn’t? Please don’t. It’s not cheese, it doesn’t taste close to cheese, and thus only serves the purpose of reminding me how awesome cheese is and that I probably won’t eat it again.

  109. I was vegetarian for the first 22 years of my life. My mum tried her best but failed to get me to eat meat as a child – I just didn’t like the taste. I was encouraged to try chicken aged 22, and now age 28 I eat most things except red meat, the smell of which just turns my stomach.
    I don’t think we have such an array of meat substitutes here in the UK; we have Quorn, tofu, and TVP (textured vegetable protein). I actually like all of these, but then, I don’t really like the texture of real meat – too many gristly/fatty bits! With substitutes, I know that this forkful will be exactly the same as the last, and doesn’t need inspecting or dissecting to remove the weird bits first! I think we’re also lucky in the UK to have good vegetarian restaurants, and every restaurant is obliged by law to offer at least one vegetarian dish. I tend to make do with just the vegetables of a meat dish if there’s nothing I like, which I’m fine with – I’d be happy just to live on vegetables and carbs if I didn’t have to cook meat for my husband and stepdaughter!

  110. I am a vegetarian and proud to be so. I think it’s wrong to kill other living creatures just so we can have a tasty meal. I share your doubts about the pretend meat products though. They are just silly. I suppose the companies do it to increase their sales but the result seems unsatisfactory for both veggies and meat-eaters. There are so many tasty non-meat things to eat that there is no need for these pseudo products.

  111. Hi, I’m a pescetarian (vegies plus fish) and haven’t eaten red meat for almost 25 years; and chicken for 16 years. I don’t miss it at all and I can still remember what bacon tastes like; and KFC! There are so many foods you can try without relying on ‘synthetics’ Though I have fond memories of sausage rolls at parties so I make my own with a vegetarian hotdog in puff pastry, tastes great!!!

    In Melbourne (Australia) there are no problems with finding great vegetarian dishes in restaurants. Do try the ethnic places such as Indian- very delish and there is so much to choose!!! Nori rolls (sushi) revolutionised takeway food for me, and there are so many good vegetarian books out there! So cook your own!!! I had to learn how to cook at age 15!

    And by the way, I married a son from a small country town of a cattle farming family (4 generations) and we will probably inherit the farm one day! I cook meat for him and my young son and baby. And no, his family haven’t disowned me!!! His father even cooks veggie burgers for me on the BBQ- you gotta love that!

    Good luck in your quest for delicious vegetarian food!

  112. Personally I am a meat eater, I like it, but I do ‘feel’ for the animal I am eating and thank it all the way down for its unwilling sacrfice. I don’t completly understand ‘vegitarians’ though have thought about trying it myself so I could seem cooler and more unique when introducing myself as Cristie the vegetarian (I ‘look’ like the vegetarian type -if there is a type-) ;) I’d have somehow made chicken an acceptable part of my diet though.
    I thought your post was great, so funny and honest, you can just tell you wrote straight from your train of thought. And I LOVE it when I find blogs like that! :D
    p.s….your ‘pizza’ made me think of the wilderness…the brown forest floor with the green mossy stuff….

  113. Fantastic post,very funny and interesting.
    I- being a vegan,really couldn’t be bothered what peoples opinions are of how,or what or why I eat a certain way.We should ask ourselves this question; do we realy nead to justify our decision-making.
    I love that your conclusions hit the nail on the head(never mind the cliche) with relation to food choices, and that the products marketed are in someway substituting a collective meat-envy within vegatarianism.I have come to realise that society has developed a type of collective consciousness,which does not directly co-related with individual Freedom of choice and it is this social stigma which draws us into conformity(think about it!!). Powerful stuff and a bit of soul searching thrown in for good measure. Thanking you for such an insightful post,I think that you have a very a great talent for writing.Keep up the good work!
    Blessed love:)

  114. haha sure that ain’t Pizza.

    I am a vegetarian by birth, so can relate to some part of what you say. Esp. “defend my lifestyle/moral convictions to complete strangers, or being that guest who screws up the dinner party menu for everyone. Ruiner” part. Pair that with being a non-smoker and teetotaler. I am sort of a social-outcast :|

    But am lucky in the sense that I stay in India where vegetarianism is a way of life for majority and hence finding good vegetarian food outside your house is not an issue (including delicious veg pizza). Plus, most of us have never tasted meat, so meat-alternative market isn’t a big one here.

    However, vegetarian vs Non-vegetarian and the third category( egg-etarian) is constant debate topic in most parties here.

    Anyway Great post! Hope you find a good veg-pizza place soon. :)

  115. I’ve been veg for almost 6 years now… and I totally feel you!

    To me, the point of being vegetarian is to willingly give up meat and whatever comes with it (taste, smells, texture, etc). So yeah, I do not understand why the food industry at large seems to find it necessary to produce meat-look-taste-alikes to satisfy a craving / desire they assume all vegetarians have?

  116. I feel your pain. I cut out meat over 10 years ago mainly because of frequent stomach aches. Now I think I’m allergic to gluten too (celiac disease) which limits my diet even more. Go figure.

    Anyway, great post.

  117. Try being vegetarian, left-handed, and also someone who doesn’t drink. While my choices in diet are health-based as well as personal choices, it doesn’t stop people from thinking I must be the least interesting person on the planet because of them. I get the numerous questions too, about both, that also suggest vegetarians, and teetotalers, are idiots.
    “So do you eat fish?” “Do you want my fish?” “You eat chicken, right?” “What about turkey?” “Want some wine? Come on, just a little?” “Like, why are you drinking WATER?”

    Seriously, like I go up to the person eating 3 sandwiches with a diet coke and criticize them…

  118. Hey,
    I’m a vegan and I love vegan food! But I think you’re right when you say it’s stupid to sell Tofurky and co. I like tofu because it’s taste is delicious, just like tofu and not Turkey or some other animal!
    xoxo, Marley

  119. I tried being vegan for a 28-day challenge, and it was pretty darn hard! I lasted 21 days for breaking down and having cheese. Going out to eat was challenging, and took a lot of the fun out of dining out.

    I did try several new foods, including vegan cheese (YUK!) and some veggie burgers (not so good, why even go there?). I did find that cheeseless pizza (with veggies) from Papa John’s is pretty good, though. Better than fegan cheese and veggie burgers, for sure.

  120. I’m not a vegetarian, but Morningstar vegi products are a staple item in my household for other reasons.

    Honestly, the bacon is quite disappointing and their new “meatballs” are gross to me, but my husband likes the flavor. On the other hand, I rather like their sausage patties. The links are ok (although my daughter prefers them to the patties).

    The Morningstar “crumbles” (ground beef substitute) do decently in pasta sauce (as do the aforementioned links). I find they’re a good fast way to up the protein in an otherwise carb-loaded pasta meal – and I’ll also add them to pizza sauce. They’re also much faster than ground beef as they only need to be heated instead of actually cooked.

    Mind, this doesn’t mean I don’t prefer a good burger (I won’t touch the vegi burgers, they all smell wrong) to any of these substitutes, but I don’t particularly mind that they’re marketed as meat-like. They are what they are, regardless of marketing (sort of like if lilacs were marketed as roses – we’d all know better, but we’d buy ‘em if we needed lilacs).

    Oh, and you’re right about Amy’s pot pies – not chickenish at all, but I enjoy them on occasion anyway.

    Very entertaining post!

  121. A twelve year vegetarian here and it’s not easy to be one among the few vegetarians in the Philippines. You’ve got to ignore the joneses if you wanna be one. My diet includes a combination of Chinese, Malay and European – ala carte style of vegie diet. The good thing here is that we have backyard gardens and vegetables are quite cheap, many and easy to cook. The culture, the diet is quite ve-ge-table at home. We use vegetables as our daily metaphors. Thanks for writing this…

  122. My daughter has been a vegetarian for over four years. As I am exceptionally lazy and refuse to cook two meals at night, most of the things I prepare are vegetarian. We have tried meat substitutes, and we both really liked Tofurky as a novelty treat, but our protein sources have shifted to other legumes. Which reminds me. I need to soak some beans for chili tonight.

    The hardest part is taking the kid anywhere. People think they can make a dish vegetarian by scraping the meat off.

  123. Preach it, preach.

    I am not vegetarian and probably never will be, but I, like any rational being (i.e. not human), know that no matter how good some kind of veggie burger patty is, it will never be as good as a real hamburger for the simple fact it isn’t one.

    Be what you are! Vegetables! Go forth and shed your meaty entrapments!

  124. i too have been a vegetarian for about 3 years due to my stomach revolting against meat. i don’t feel like the point of vegetarianism is as simple as willingly opting out of “meaty” food or anything that pretends to be. the reasons for vegetarianism are varied whether it be for social justice reasons or health. the thing about vegetarian substitutes is you just have to find those that you like and ignore the title. those substitutes which are becoming more and more popular are making it less of a strain for us vegetarians to find suitable food options beyond just salad. as far as your pizza debacle goes, you could go to a frilly wine bar and find something similar to what you had on their menu with fish or chicken on it and they would call it pizza too. with the description and knowing it was going to be raw AND vegan you had to know you weren’t going to get the standard hot melted cheese on dough and sauce. i say if it tastes good, who cares what they call it?

    ps. you’re totally right, vegetarians (myself definitely included) do have bacon envy. NOTHING compares. lol

  125. I really liked your article. I am a vegetarian and guess what?, I LOVE vegetables! With the array of vegetables, grains and beans out there and the myriad of ways of preparing them, there is no need for fake meat. It doesn’t taste like meat, it doesn’t have the texture of meat and a lot of it has non-recognizable ingredients. I sort of fell into vegetarianism, and I really don’t like to label myself. I think the best diet is one that consists of whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. Fake meat, as a whole, doesn’t fit the bill.

  126. Reblogged this on Eating Without Meat and commented:
    This is a really good (and funny) article with some valid points regarding fake meat products. Having tried some of the fake meat products myself, I think as a whole, they are a great turn off. Vegetables, grains and beans are beautiful and lend themselves to wonderful, tasty and creative dishes that highlight the deliciousness of these ingredients. What do you think? Do you agree with this blogger? Do you enjoy fake meat products?

    • Well, some of them are actually quite good. Mostly they are the ones that don’t try to pass for meat (vegetarian sausage = yuck). The health food supermarket near me has spinach and mushroom “burgers” made by these guys – http://www.zaai-ster.nl/english-summary. These “burgers” have nothing to do with hamburgers, except the name.
      I don’t like the taste of meat (anymore0, so I don’t feel the craving for fake meat.

  127. Thanks for sharing. It is a great read.

    I have been a vegetarian for nearly 30 years, and honestly, I don’t even notice what other types of eaters are doing. I don’t feel as if others believe that I am not quite as smart. I really don’t think about it at all. I just do what I want and leave the rest to do whatever they want. No judgements.

  128. Though not a vegetarian, I have tried vegetarian substitutes, and I like them. Yeah, they’re not meat, but that shouldn’t take away from their flavor. I wouldn’t call it food trickery.

  129. I think you and I have the same sense of humor. Lol. or similar. you should check out my blog ;) lexavienna.wordpress.com
    ps i´m also vegetarian. and i´ve gotten that NONpizza before. pity tis tis true and pity tis

  130. Totally agree…. The Chinese Vegan restaurants would have dishes like sweet and sour ‘fish’, Lemon ‘Chicken’ and Stir fry ‘Beef’… All mock meats of course. Have always thought that it’s silly. First they taste nothing like meat, and the poor vegans who have never tasted meat wouldn’t know any better. And… Why call it something that the vegans are actually avoiding? Irony? Stupidity?

    I’m transitioning to Vegetarian or Pescetarian. Will not be able to give up eggs and dairy.

  131. I’m a vegetarian and I love my non-burgers and non-sausages. I like the salty/protein mix that is meat substitutes. Some of them are shitty, others are really good. Even if they’re “not real”. Also, I’m not a very creative cook. So substitutes makes cooking easy. Sure, I’m letting the meat-eating food culture dictate what is normal and simple food… But then I was a meat eater for fourteen years.

  132. My fiance is vegetarian and I am gluten, corn and dairy free. My favorite line are people asking if he eats fish and they are serious about it! I ate fish on Fridays during lent as a kid because you weren’t supposed to eat meat on that day of the week. Is that why half the general public thinks fish is ok for vegetarians?

    I cook 99.9% of our meals at home because most people don’t understand what good vegetarian food is. It goes far beyond Pasta Primavera, eggplant, portobello mushroom and dry veggie burgers. Think Indian, Asian or Raw foods and you’ve got a plethora of new choices. Just don’t pass it off as something else.

    And finding an establishment that really understands gluten is near impossible. Good luck and happy eating.

  133. As a fellow left-handed vegetarian, my interpretation of fake meat products is that they’re a good way for people to transition to vegetarianism. Also, my family *loves* meat ‘n’ potatoes; when I go home to visit them, my mom feels as if I’m not getting a full meal if I don’t have something similar to what they’re having, so she’ll get me some fake meat and that’s that. I tell her that I’m fine with eating sides or making my own food, but she feels bad if I’m eating differently than everyone else. So I think fake meat products also serve a purpose in helping meat-eaters “accommodate” vegetarians in their own way (even if they don’t really need to).

    The way I see it, even when I was a carnivore there were products I wouldn’t eat, so it’s no different to me to avoid a fake burger as it was for me to avoid processed chopped meat.

  134. as a vegan of 15 years and a vegetarian of nigh on 20, i can say that i do, from time to time, indulge in the fake meats on offer…less and less, as i get older, because i just lean toward whole foods…but the pizza, in my opinion, looked and sounded gorgeous, and while it may not have resembled american pizza, i’ve seen pizza in france and italy that didn’t look too far removed from that. pizza’s a pretty diverse food, after all. the thing with the imitation foods, though, is that they do help someone coming into the lifestyle to make the transition. to be able to go to a bbq, veggie dogs or burgers (and aluminum) in-hand is a lot less stigmatizing than the alternative thanks-but-i’ll-eat-the-chips routine. and i guess i never thought the fake stuff was supposed to taste like the real thing, but more that it could work as a substitute. by the way, nutritional yeast is a godsend for vegans – one of the only seriously good sources of all the B vitamins not in a pill…never been one for vitamins, myself.

  135. There is one caveat to vegetarian instead of vegan food. Animal protein, particularly cow milk protein, binds with all the healing antioxidants and renders them USELESS to our body! It’s so easy and healthier to be vegan!

    Why would someone choose to be vegan? To help end world hunger for one! Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE and http://www.veganvideo.org

  136. It’s funny – I’ve seen this exact same problem from the other side. Vegitarians seem to think that meat-eaters are stupid. I have a lot of veggies (yes, I call you all ‘veggies’) in my life and they all are constantly trying to get me to eat their fake-meat tofu options. “Oh, it tastes just like chicken/bacon/beef/pork and it’s so much healthier!” Um, no, it doesn’t; and no, it’s not. (Ever looked at the salt content of those things?)

    It’s come to the point where I am pretty sure that the designer tofu section at the grocery store is actually *not* for veggies. In reality, it is a way for veggies to try to trick regular people (ya, I said it – regular people) into eating tofu. The problem is, tofu doesn’t taste like meat. Ever. The only people who think it does taste like meat, are people who don’t eat meat. And given your post, it’s pretty clear that even veggies can tell the difference.

    Let’s put an end to the tofu sham. If you want to eat tofu and lettuce – whatever your reasons – then eat tofu and lettuce. And I’ll beat burgers. We can all get along just fine!

  137. Well, your idea of pizza seems to be pretty homogeneous. Authentic Neapolitan pizza would probably me more along the lines of what you have in that picture than anything you’re doing to find at Pizza Hut (meatless or not).

    If you have a mainstream vision of what things like burgers, pizzas, etc., should be, then yes-you are going to be disappointed with the healthy alternatives.

    I don’t like the prepackaged tofu burgers, “cheez-y” pastas, or Veganaise any more than the next person, but that’s because I prefer real food. If you’re looking for meaty alternatives to meat, you’re not going to find them. If you’re picturing pizza as the the think that most drunk college kids order at 3 a.m., you’re probably not going to find it at a whole-foods establishment. But that’s not really pizza anyway …

  138. I have been a vegetarian for about 6 years now and have never looked back. Up until just recently I was a slave to those meat alternatives until I finally realized the soy was upsetting my system. I have recently been creating my own burgers (black bean baby!) and finding products that are vegan, without any soy products. As for pizza, there is no way to change that to a frankenstein form and have it taste good! Thanks for the laugh, great post!

  139. Yeah, I feel for you. I’m vegetarian myself and am very skeptical about the so-called substitutes. Aside from the question of whether they actually taste like the original meat, who wants to be constantly reminded that you are missing out on something and that you are getting a substitute? BTW, I think Thai, Indian and middle-eastern places offer a lot more vegetarian options.

    I also wanted to mention my post on Being Vegetarian in Turkey – perhaps you may like this. http://wanderzoo.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/being-vegetarian-in-turkey/

  140. As a fellow left-handed vegetarian of three years (well, i’ve been vegetarian three years, I’ve been left-handed for 24), I thoroughly enjoyed your post. My worst vegetarian meal was in a village in Hungary. I ordered the typical boring, but edible, grilled eggplant. To my dismay, I got a plate of unseasoned, un-oiled eggplant surrounded by kiwi and bananas and topped with WHIPPED CREAM. The chef probably thought he was being very creative.

  141. Hello fellow vegetarian,

    I’ve lived pretty much “off the grid” socially throughout my life anyway. Eating meat with every meal or for the majority of the week became a social statement after the “Great Depression.” If one had steak and potatoes, they were thought to be financially secure. Little did everyone know, diets became increasingly meat-based.

    I enjoy my vegetarian lifestyle and when the rest of the population (meat eaters) are chomping down on petri dish engineered meat products, I will still feel good about my choice.

    Bon Appétit

  142. Pingback: What’s that thing on your forehead? (And other memories of Lenten seasons past) « The Camel Life

  143. This post made me laugh!! I have been a vegetarian for almost six years now but I have to admit that lately I have been resorting to substitutes such as those “Chick’n Strip” type things. Why? Basically I’ve been getting lazy since starting university and juggling that and work, so cutting up some of those slabs of tofu with some seasonings and adding it to my wraps is super easy and gives me some added protein, which I’ve been getting alot less of lately. But it does bug me that they make it look like a replica of meat. It’s as if they think we still desire meat somehow? My brother teases me about it a lot actually, often saying things like “well, how come you’re out buying these things that look like meat then? Clearly you must not be able to live without meat, even if it’s fake.” And I just shake my head! I think they should just give us some pre-seasoned tofu and whatnot and we could do with it what we want! Anyways, great post!

  144. I really enjoyed reading your post! I am an animal lover, never liked to eat meat much and am slowly trying to cut it out all together. I always get the, “she’s starting that again” when I tell my family that I don’t want the meat with a meal.
    Anyway, I notice what you are speaking of all the time and I just leave it on the shelf because I know it can’t be good. I often think about why they can’t just make good meals that don’t include meat and call it a day, ya know? Well, I mean call it something good!

  145. I have yet to tried some of those vegetarian process foods, they don’t really appeal to me plus I rather just make my own homemade Veggie Burger, I don’t eat meat, I stop around the age of 14 I was always told that since I was little I wouldn’t like eating meat, but I do eat eggs ( only with baking or frying ) & cheese. So im a vegetarian?

  146. Yes, this kind of food, that pretends to be veggie but calls itself with meat-words, it is so stupid! Also in Germany. I usually forgo this food. Thanks for this clarifying! Andrea

  147. I have eaten a plant-base diet for 25 years, for the most part. It gets easier especially if you cook from scratch–staying away from all that processed vegan and vegetarian food with wheat gluten. Your post is funny. Raw pizza will never resemble the real thing. It’s as bad as raw lasagna. Raw foodies should come up with more creative names instead of poor substitutes. Talking of raw foodies, that’s more fringe than vegetarian.

  148. I love this! I guess you could say I’m a part time vegetarian, a flexitarian. I only eat small portions of meat or fish maybe once or twice a week so the majority of my meals are vegetarian.

    I totally agree with you on the packaged vegetarian stuff…why do they have to pretend it’s meat? I personally cut back on meat because I got to a point where eating meat every time I ate supper was starting to make me want to gag. So why would I want to eat fake meat? Yuck.

  149. Hi Breezy,

    I know exactly what you mean. When I eat “alternative” products, they usually don’t taste very good. Admittedly though, I am a huge fan of Morningstar veggie breakfast sausages though. It must be all the sodium or something, but they’re really good.

    Anyhow, although I am not vegetarian, I have found from past experience that the key wasn’t to substitute meat products for veggie products (usually it will never be as good), but instead to just learn to enjoy non-meat foods more. Through my wife, whose Asian, I learned all kinds of ways to eat vegetables I never thought of before. Spinach for example tastes really good if you steam it, chill it, and serve with soy sauce for example. Kimchi is often vegetarian (check though, sometimes it uses shrimp), and that stuff is pretty addicting.

    The trouble with being vegetarian is that American food in general is blah and limited, and if you take out the meat, it’s even worse.

    Also, for me, I’ve found it difficult to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle (you really can’t do it alone, you need a support group), so for me, I just focus on eating vegetarian meals. I figure if I can avoid meat at least some of the time, it’s still making a positive contribution. It doesn’t have to be an either/or thing.

  150. I understand you a little, but I can English a little :D (and this short text have sure xxx mistakes and I shame:D). Sure is this – I´m vegetarian 4 years and I like vegetarian substitutes. This is not pair, this taste as pair… What is actuelly pair? I know and I see here, then the vegetarian conversation have a lot of responses :) I can write more, but I´m a english llama, but I know a lot of English mistakes in my language :D … I have a monkey is good … That is matter, I wonted you write just and I did it :) Ahoj.

  151. I don’t really have a desire to eat fake meat, I’m perfectly happy without meat! However I hate it when meat eaters tell me fake meat is crap because like anything some of it is crap but some of it is really good! I know the brand scares some people but Tofurky has an amazing fake stuffed chicken, even my die hard meat eating family agreed it was pretty good!

  152. Love this article because I really relate. My family and I are vegetarians and have struggled to be able to travel and not starve to death or give up nd eat french fries for dinner. We travel alot and have found one of the most difficult things about it isn’t TSA, it’s finding food that doesn’t make us want to bite the waitress.

    It never fails to amuse me when we as a waitress if the soup has a meat base and she looks at us like we are stupid because it’s called Broccoli soup, duh! However, we’ve made it a fun game to look on Happy Cow or other veggie sites to discover new places that are vegetarian or veg friendly. We have eaten in some holes in the wall that have the most amazing creations that don’t use meat subs. And we have sighed when we look at the menu and the only thing they have for veggies like us are some mushroom covered in some sauce. Honestly, I don’t like mushrooms!! Stop trying to cover it in sauce to hide the fact that it’s still a mushroom or eggplant!

    Oh well.. great article. New fan!

  153. I like your post! I come from a family of vegetarians I also can’t stand all the fake products out there, they not only taste bad, but are also very unhealthy sometimes. This brand of vegetarian cheese I checked had artificial colours! I am not vegetarian, but I eat very little meat. I am a nutritionist and I run a food blog. All my recipes are from scratch, but since I work a lot and don’t have tons of time, most of my food is very easy to make. Some of my vegetarian recipes do use dairy and eggs, but in most of them you can just omit the ingredients. If you get a chance check it out and hopefully you will find a couple of recipes you may like! http://feedrightforpeople.wordpress.com And I do have a gluten-free pizza recipe that tastes like pizza!!

  154. I like this post! My boyfriend is a vegetarian, and myself and my kids are not. It really hasn’t been an issue, we make the main dish then add in the meat/meat substitute as we see fit, but, I’ve said it a million times…this is good, for what it is. For a burger, it’s terrible! The same with several other foods. Just quit pretending they are meat, let them be good on their own!

  155. Very nice…. I am a part time vegetarian, meaning that on occasion (such as tonight) I do have chicken, or fish; but no red meat; I stand by the saying ” two legs good four legs bad” :O)

    Nothing wrong in meat eating per se; something humans have been doing for thousands of years; but there is a substantial difference between hunting for your dinner and having it served in a restaurant;

    On the other hand I cannot help but consider that vegetables are also living creatures; a different species at that; no audible voice.

    And as it happens there is a relation between how ‘meat’ is reared and vegetables are grown in the majority of cases.

    ah well, one can’t always be happy…

    :O)

    • It’s true! I mentioned earlier about an article I’ve read before- Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace, that talks about whether or not lobsters can feel pain, and other types of living creatures. You should check it out if you are looking for a good read!

  156. Yesterday, I had a pretty bad vegetarian experience. I became vegetarian only a few months ago and it hasn’t been too difficult…until I actually order items off a menu that have meat substitutes etc.

    I got something titled “seitan bbq burger” which was a tofu-based meat substitute.

    It kind of looked like chunks of eraser dipped in barbeque sauce, plopped on a bun. I guess not a lot of people order it because the cook did not know how to prepare the item and it came out ICE COLD. If people don’t eat a pulled pork sandwich COLD, they are probably not going to want to eat a vegan bbq sandwich COLD.

    How frustrating.

  157. Pingback: On being vegetarian… or not… « TheNewStreet

  158. I was out one time and they had “fake bacon” listed on a sandwich I was interested in. I asked the server for the kitchen to put it on the side because I wasn’t so sure I was in to the whole fake bacon thing. I tried it just to be fair and it definitely was probably the same product they sell for dog treats! Call a spade a spade! And I don’t know how it is for all vegetarians, but I don’t really care for the taste of meat, so faux meat isn’t really appealing. Give me a black bean burger anyday over a faux hamburger burger.

  159. I didn’t eat red meat or poultry for about a decade. It was a bit more of a challenge back in the day…I eventually gave it up because people were offering me elk meat – from elk they’d killed themselves…with arrows. I felt like a bigger jerk saying “no” than I could handle. : )

    The fake meat thing is…odd. I like some of it a LOT (though tofurkey is a nasty nasty pile of salt congealed in…something and nothing will change that) but it’s really the spices more than it’s the “meat”. Nevertheless, when I was pregnant with son #1, I craved the fake bacon (I called it “fake-on”) like crazy.

    As for you ruining dinner, who are your friends? Don’t they serve side dishes that aren’t dosed with fatback? I always just opted for those and passed the meat without comment. Occasionally, some “wit” had to wave his meat in my face (my, that sounds dirty), but usually no one noticed. Personally, I think it’s easier to cook without meat than with it.

    • I had a similar situation this summer while visiting Croatia when my relatives offered me sausage they had made by hand.. I felt like a jerk turning them down! My friends are usually pretty cool with it- I mostly hate when a host/hostess feels bad about me not being satisfied- I’m usually happy just to eat the side dishes!

  160. Bacon envy – I love it! As a meat eater, I can’t imagine life without it!
    I am also left handed and follow a diet that is not part of the conventional definition of normal. Although not a vegetarian, I do follow the Paleo diet which can be just as challenging when dining out….”What do you mean you won’t eat the bread?” Argh!
    Perhaps, someday soon, we whole food eaters will be the ones with the plethora of choices!

  161. One of my biggest frustrations as a vegetarian is how many people think it’s the world’s biggest challenge to not eat meat. It’s SO easy to make dishes without meat in them.

    Meat eaters eat cheese pizza, meatless chili, lasagna with no meat, a freaking PB&J, and so many other meat free meals all the time without thinking twice about it.

    My college cafeteria can’t seem to get the hint with the numerous complaints from us veg heads on campus. I don’t understand why they can’t make the burritos without the beef or put the meatballs in a separate dish instead of mixing them in with the marinara sauce.

    I often tell people who automatically want to pick fights about my non-meat lifestyle, “People who want to cut carbs stop eating bread. People who want to cut sugar stop eating cake. I’m cutting cholesterol by not eating meat.” And then if they dare to get into the treatment of animals, I pick what ever meat they’re eating and tell them every disgusting fact I know about how it got to their plate.

    I appreciate companies calling their fake meat things like “texturized vegetable protein” instead of some corny “meaty nonmeat” name. Even though the texture of TVP completely skeeves me out.

    And pizza? C’mon! If they knew that it looked like that, they should have just come up with a new name for it.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  162. Hi! I’m another left-handed vegetarian. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 15 (about 6 years) and have tried vegetarian substitutes. I do like Amy’s products and some Morningstar Farms, but for the most part I just stick to making vegetable foods myself.
    I hate the foods that they masquerade as meat tasting and actually have not tried those again for a few years. I gave up meat because I don’t like the taste of it, so why would I want to buy a meat substitute that they try to make taste just like the food I gave up? I know that is not true for everyone, but you’re absolutely right that if it doesn’t look or taste anything like it – it should not be called that!

  163. I have been a veggie for 5 years now and I honestly don’t mind meat substitutions. Of course some of them suck and taste more like rubber… I remember one vegan cookbook that managed to convince me to make home made seitan not once, or twice, but multiple times. I learn that all I was doing was making gluten rubber in a pot full of liquid smoke. I learned that I hate liquid smoke.

    But the odd veggie dog/burger or ground round satisfies my meat-eating nostalgia while keeping my feelings of veggie superiority in tacked. lol

  164. I am happy to see more people attempting to change the way we think about food and what we are consuming– Consumers have the right to know where their food comes from and how animals are treated before they reach their plates. This is a good, short video to watch about this topic: MeatVideo.com. Or visit ChooseVeg.com for information on adapting a more compassionate lifestyle.

  165. The only thing worse than the name Tofurkey is the way my mother (also vegetarian) misprounces it: Torfooky. It started as a slip of the tongue, but I’m pretty sure she does it on purpose now.
    We don’t all have bacon envy. . . A guest cooked it in our house once, and it woke me up after giving me a nightmare. And my room is in the attic.

  166. I’m a Vegetarian who would actually prefer just to be a full-on Vegan if it didn’t inconvenience the hell out of the people that I love. It’s a frustrating venture, that’s for sure….but doesn’t it feel great?

    Beets > Beef

  167. I’ve been vegetarian for over six years, and I love it. I don’t think it’s right to eat meat in general, especially if you are an animal lover, and I am probably one of the biggest animal lovers in the freaking world. I don’t mind the names veggie burger and things like this, but what bugs me is that they are actually trying to make some items to taste like meat. As far as I am concerned, if it looks too much like meat and if it actually tastes like meat, I DON’T WANT TO EAT IT! Why do I want to eat something that is so much like meat when I am completely against eating meat? It’s stupid.

    I have found lots of soy products that I love and I love the fact that they don’t taste like meat, or really look like meat. Therefore, I know that they’re vegetarian.

  168. You just summed up everything that I’ve been thinking for so long. I’ve been a casual cheating vegetarian for 5 years now. [bacon and panda express orange chicken] For the last seven months I’ve been a pescatarian and it has suited me quite well. I’ve never been a fan of the fake chicken wings or hot dogs though a good veggie burger from time to time never hurts. Keep up the great posts and keep up your grand lifestyle.
    From one lefty to another!
    mental high five!

  169. I have been a Vegetarian for 8 years and absolutely despise veg substitutes. They are so full of sodium and make me feel bloated after consumption. I never understood why the milieu of veggie substitutes. I thought vegetarians reject meat… So why should there be a quest to find sources of “meat”. Vegans are my heroes though… I dont know how vegans handle it ;)

  170. I like to say I am mostly Vegan…I am not militantly so, and I will eat just about anything if I’m traveling.

    That said, I am totally with you on the fake meat thing. I’d rather eat any ‘honest vegetable’ dish than most of the fake meat products.

    But, the fact remains, restaurants seem to hear the word vegetarian and equate it with pasta, eggplant and giant mushrooms. There limited repertoire is rather tiring and disappointing. There’s a FABULOUS book called “Great Chefs Cook Vegan” that actually has only gourmet vegan recipes. The author called ahead to various famous restaurants and told them she was looking for quality vegan fare. The result is a set of recipes that takes a lot of work, but taste amazing. It goes to show that chefs can get creative if they are asked to, and we can start by asking for it directly and ahead of time when possible. I know that won’t work for most chains, but, for a special night out, it’s definitely worth the effort.

  171. Hey Breezyk,

    I’m slowly getting back to the bloggy world and was so glad they “Pressed” this one so I didn’t miss it. LMAO!

    Having been an on-again, off-again vegetarian for many years I feel your pain. I never eat anything off a bone even when I’m off the veggie wagon, but you couldn’t be more right about the faux meat products. If I want to meat, I will and all the camo in the world isn’t going to make tofu taste like meat. Start a petition and I’ll sign it!

    Miss D

  172. I have been mostly vegetarian for more than a decade, and I, too, am turned off by many of the meat substitutes. I do love Riblets, though. Smother anything in BBQ sauce, and it’s going to be just fine for me.

  173. I was a vegetarian for 10 weeks in college, and I felt the same way. In the end, I didn’t want something that tasted like chicken wings, I wanted chicken wings. But I’m with you, “real chik’n flavor” is not chicken.

  174. haha! Love your post! And agree. I’ve been going more and more vegetarian out of taste preference (I just don’t care for meat) and I don’t feel the need to have pseudo-meat substitutes. Especially when there are so many good vegetarian dishes out there – we just need better names!

  175. Bwahaha…..your pizza was not what it appeared. I am not a vegitarian but I do occasionally subsitute tofu or soy bean in my daily diet. And no, it doesn’t taste like meat at all. But if prepared right its wonderfull. Tofu tacos are my favorite. Especially with fresh home made salsa…….mmm
    Made my self hungry :-)

  176. As an Dharmic Indian, I have been vegetarian all my life; and since this habit is deep rooted in our culture, we have a lot of interesting dishes that make good meals. Plus, I hear that a considerable portion of Israel is vegetarian too…

    BTW, I had a post on vegetarianism almost a year ago; it offers a different view on why people probably think vegetarians are stupid… you might want to check it out if you have the time:

    http://sushilsub.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/the-annoying-proud-vegetarian/ … Cheers!

  177. That was one real crappy pizza! I feel for you. Though I’m not a vegetarian. But I do. My boss is one and it’s really quite difficult when it comes to lunch meetings and all.

  178. I LOVE this! I’m not a vegetarian and I have to admit, I had a preconceived notion about vegetarians and their confused ideas about food. I respect everyone’s food choices, but I also have the same feelings about the food industry lying to me. Its like the yogurt commercials. DO NOT tell me that an average American woman would exercise her free will and chose a low fat cheesecake flavored yogurt instead of an actual piece of cheesecake. Tell me it’ll make me lose weight, tell me it has less calories, but DO NOT tell me that it TASTES THE SAME. Have some respect.

    There is a distinct possibility that somewhere in the 300 comments before this one, someone else made the same point I did. I would have read those comments to avoid repeating someone else…but I’m lazy.

  179. Lolz..that Pizza looks more like a Pizza topping – what a rip off! The thing with “substitutes” is that you tend to expect a lot from them but they never quite match up to the original stuff. So, you end up unsatisfied. And the lame names and packaging make things worse. It’s more psychological, i guess.
    You should also explore Indian food sans the spices. You will be amazed at the options available which are palatable to the western tongue.

  180. i totally agreed and laughed the whole way through, reading this. “Ruiner.” just made it for me. HAHAHA. I’ve been on the green for half a year now, and all my friends have been politely (in varying levels) trying to tell me that I suck! ooh- bacon…

  181. I was a vegetarian for 6 years beginning in 1968. It was odd at the time and I had to explain myself constantly. These days the choices seem more open and accepted. The important thing for each of us is to take responsibility for our choices and to make or gather the food we need, without inconveniencing others too much. At this point I’ll eat anything I estimate to be healthy food. And I say estimate cause there are umpteen things to worry about in our food chain.
    Thanks for writing about such an interesting subject!

  182. Hey you are really funny with your vegetarian attitude. Am not a vegetarian but I own a restaurant and we do make 100% Vegan dishes. These are based on religious orthodox diary fasting practices. It do amaze me to see the varieties of Tofu, Soy and other crap filled veggie choices but hey people think that’s the only choice out there. Try Ethiopian food. My restaurant have 20 100% Vegan choices and most of which are made to order. From Stew cabbage, Spicy red lentils, Split peas, and green peas. I enjoyed you ranting on the how they try to masquerade some of these dishes in the name on veggie.

  183. I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 4 years, but I’m an extremely picky eater. So “fake meat” is pretty much the only way I can manage it, since I don’t want to have a diet of purely pizza and pasta. I personally quite like most of the things I’ve tried, and since I’m eating in a primarily meat eating house, it’s definitely the easiest way for me to be accommodated in a big meal. They’re basically the reason that my parents allowed me to make the change at 14, so I’ve gotta say, I’m a fan!

  184. Loved your comments about Tofurky. Why would anybody want that stuff when they can just gorge on the many wonder side dishes on Thanksgiving? I am an omnivore but heartily recommend “The Greens Cookbook” from that San Francisco restaurant. The recipes are so luscious that you will not even miss the meat!

  185. Oh my god, this is a problem that I myself encounter everyday. Being a vegetarian makes finding food to eat at a restaurant super hard.

  186. I’m a vegetarian, sometimes a vegan: http://thejessicaness.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/accidental-veganism/
    And if you hate hotdogs like I did growing up, don’t make the mistake of trying the veggie version – oh so gross! I find some meat substitues have more flavor than dead animals and others taste like cardboard. My husband is supportive by being a flexatarian – eating meat at work or restaurants, but I still know people that have trouble grasping the concept – I just gave up something I didn’t like; it’s not like I gave up drinking water!? Great post btw!

  187. I feel your pain! I just recently decided to give up pork, and I run into problems all the time! I’m judged constantly for it. Maybe it’s my reasoning…(I genuinely don’t like the way pigs are treated). I live in North Dakota, and constantly see little piglets go by on semis just waiting to be butchered. I also think pigs are very intelligent, compassionate animals. It’s been kind of a hard choice, but I’m sticking to it!
    I will still eat beef (occasionally, but not much) and chicken and turkey. Sometimes I think I could go completely vegetarian, but that would pose a whole new set of challenges!

  188. I have been a full vegetarian for 11 years.. When I first made the change I honestly had no idea what to make or even how to cook a vegetable in a way that I would like it.. I know it sounds weird to hear of a vegetarian not liking their veggies, but I hated them while growing up and liked only a handful of what I considered “safe” veggies to eat at the time of my decision.. I had many food issues to overcome, everything was unsafe in my opinion..

    Thankfully I had a few vegetarian friends that would throw food parties to help me and I was introduced to some of the weird mock meats products.. Most I did not like. i.e not dogs, grilled bocca soy patties and fake sausage, and some I found to be pretty good i.e the spongy fake meatballs by Yves and Amy’s california burger.

    I don’t eat as many of the mock meats as I use to 11 years ago, barely any, now I love my veggies and will try anything that is labeled vegetarian and is cheese less! But in defense of the mock meat for vegs I have to say that they are a good transition food.. People, when they make any change in diet, or even relocation to a new city, look for something that they recognize from their previous life. its like a security blanket that you slowly grow out of as you become more confident with your new choice..

    I do take issue that at every restaurant these mock meats seem to take center stage of most vegetarian meals – it seems a bit lazy and uncreative – AND, when you order a meal minus the meat, that the chef in the back thinks you want something else to replace the meat, like cheese… I have lost count of the number of the meals that have come back to me with a huge pile of gross foul smelling half melted cheese on what would otherwise be a tasty dish.. :/

  189. Been a veggie since birth mainly because my whole family is.
    When I was old enough to make my own choices, I figured ” Hell, I’ve been living perfectly healthy these past 16 years, so why not continue?”

    Also. Pizza. You clearly haven’t seen the range of Veggie Pizzas in India. XD

    And meat substitutes are a strict no. I’m fine with what I eat.

    Good luck with your vegetarianism!

  190. I grew up on a farm, we had cows, pigs, wheat, barley, and a huge garden every summer. There have been times when I shutter at the thought of eating another animal. I do love cheese though, so I couldn’t bare a life without it. Flesh on the other hand, I might give it up. Now what about fish? I’ve seen other bloggers who call themselves “pescatarians”, so no footed animals, just fish. Possible. Salmon, cheese and bread – with unlimited veggies and fruits, that doesn’t sound bad at all :)
    Congrats on FP!

  191. I have been facing the same problems as you. I want to slowly work my way to become a vegetarian but the choices are so slim and not always. What do you suggest?

  192. HA! “meat-envy.” I love it! I am vegetarian and definitely can relate do this conception of vegetarians. Not every meal has to have tofu in it- Tofu is not “our version of meat!”

  193. Yay! Left handed vegetarian! I’m currently living in Spain, where Franco didn’t condone vegetarian food. Yes, that ended years and years ago, but the vegetarian food still comes with ham and crab.

  194. I eat mostly vegan but was a big milk drinker before that. I drink almond milk now, (plain, not vanilla) and love it, so I don’t miss milk at all. I’m not at all impressed by vegan “cheese” and prefer to eat a tiny bit of some real, amazing cheese once in a great while. Same thing with meat. I’ve discovered a lot of new, delicious foods. My only regret is that my reading time in the bathroom is practically non-existent anymore. :-) Much better for me, though.

  195. Nice post. As an omnivore who has a resolution to cook at least one vegan meal a month (so that I don’t just resort to known delicious eggs and cheese), I also avoid simulation products. For me, there is no point in being eating veggie protein if it will just taste like meat, and is just as much if not more processed then the meat I’d be replacing it for. I prefer to explore the many beans, peas and lentils that are available instead.
    I have had vegetarian pizzas that have been delicious, but I think the first sign you could of had that something was wrong was the fact it was going to be a “raw” pizza. I don’t believe this is possible, as you can not have pizza without melted cheese.
    I also have a suggestion for some of the above people looking for vegetarian options for lunch. One that doesn’t require a microwave is hummus or a hard boiled egg, and veggies along with a roll of bun. I rarely eat it as a sandwich, but as a really large snacks. Another option that I found absolutely delicious was reheated lentil wat (ethiopian dish with onions, cooked green lentils and spices) reheated in a microwave and eaten with a baked (also in microwave, washed at home) potato. Although the recipe suggested eating the lentil wat with couscous or rice, my favourite pairing has been to have it with a baked potato.

  196. Pingback: The Vegetarian’s Dilemma | Il Blog di Fabio Argiolas

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