Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Take on Fake

Meat! Of course I have an opinion on fake meat. It is a recent trend that is now grazing supermarket shelves and the options grow larger for those who look past the supermarket, and make it to the health food stores. Last week, Sheldon (my partner, boyfriend) purchased some beer brats (vegan) and Kielbasa (vegan) for me to bring to a BBQ.

Generally, I shy away from fake meats, but make many exceptions, due to laziness and lack of time. You many wonder why, as a vegetarian, I would want to avoid these. Well, I'll tell you. I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. By processed foods, I mean a list of ingredients too long to read with unpronounceable chemical content that probably should be avoided. Of course, I do not avoid processed foods in the traditional sense (traditional bread, fermentation, etc.). My problems with most fake meats is that they are over processed and some even contain some shady ingredients. They are also on the expensive side.

However, I was impressed with these "beer brats" and "keilbasas". The *ingredient list is relatively short, for a convenience food, and simple. They also tasted great and grilled wonderfully. Add to that, they are supporters of The Humane Society of the United States As it turns out, they are a line of Turtle Island Foods, Inc. I should have known! When I do venture to the dark side and eat processed 'meats', they are to whom I invariably turn; simple ingredients and industry values. A rare bird, indeed! Speaking of birds, they supply my thanksgiving Tofurky and supplies run out quickly! I better get to the store...

Anyway, now you know how I feel about consuming these 'meats', so you will also get to read about my thoughts on others who consume them. I say go for it! If it will keep someone with a meat craving from supporting factory farms, it's a good thing. Furthermore, the health hazards of ingesting conventionally produced real meat (antibiotics, hormones, excessive saturated fat) far outweigh a lengthy ingredient list. For those of us who prefer the art of making our own cuisine from fresh ingredients, well, that's great, too... provided we do not judge those with less time on their hands, or who lack the skills in the kitchen!

Lastly, fake meat is not a new techno food trend. It was first developed in Japan and China and remains popular in East and South East Asia, where there has been a high concentration of vegetarians for centuries. It is simply wheat gluten, or seitan. We have the increased growth of the Asian population, and Asian supermarkets, to thank for the growing abundance of fake meats (originally derived from two simple ingredients: water and wheat gluten).

* ingredient list and nutritional information in Tofurky brand Kielbasa

I thought I would not be able to eat one of these for lunch, today, because sugar would be listed in the ingredients!! Wrong. No added sugar! The only sugar is that which naturally occurs in vegetables or grains. This in itself is quite a feat. Sugar really is added to everything, including my favorite salad dressing, Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette!

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