I am a fan of fake meats. I don't know if that puts me in the majority or minority of vegans, nor does that really bother me either way. I have always stated that I don't eat animal flesh for the simple fact of where it comes from, not because of what it tastes like. I do not see it as making me a less than perfect vegan. Plus, many fake meats help connect me in a way with my mother's and grandmother's cooking -- without all the killing of animals to do so. So, I am quite okay with it.
Since becoming a vegan, so many years ago, I have become quite the master of gluten, and can get some really great flavors out of the seitan I make. But, I know that the average person often does not have the time to whip up seitan, and it can definitely can be time consuming, with mixed results. So, many vegetarians and vegans just buy pre-made seitan, tofu, tempeh or one of the many products now on the market from Gardein, MorningStar, and others. But, they can get expensive.
This past week, Mark Bittman of the New York Times posted a story about a new fake meat being made in factory, and even included an interesting video about the manufacturing of this meat. I was impressed by the texture and how this "chicken" appears. But, what really interested me was the idea of it actually costing less than actual chicken, and other fake meat products already on the market. MSNBC had a similar story, about another group working on a fake meat as well. Again, the meat seems to be quite realistic, down to how it flakes and pulls apart.
This may bother some vegans, who dislike the idea of fake meats, and perhaps it is bringing fake meats to a too realistic state. It may also horrify those who are adamantly anti-processed foods, but the real reason behind these fake meats may go well beyond trying to seek the approval of vegans and vegetarians. Food shortages, food costs, and the environmental impact of raising animals for meat are more likely the inspirations and the reason behind these new products.
And I believe this is how the world could eventually go vegan. I foresee a future where more and more people will just be accidentally vegan or vegetarian. Why not if you can get the same taste and texture from a fake meat product and at a lower cost? Less animal suffering, and less environmental cost. Perhaps that is not the glorious end result that those who support animal rights would like to have; People going animal free for their wallets rather than for the sake of the animals, but with the same results, does that matter?
Photo credit: Vegetarian Butchers