#1 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, December 2nd, 2013 14:21
#2 By: Scintillating Eyepoke, December 2nd, 2013 15:27
Also this posting - the story is more honest than the author's link.
The story discusses one danger of monoculture farming (soy and hexane) - there are others. It is quite clear from this article that the agenda is one of morality not sustainability on the part of the fake food manufacturers. "They never see the sunlight. They never touch the soil." treating animals this way sucks that's certain, but the ideals these companies are pushing are moral ones not economic.
If they really wanted to encourage sustainability - it is pretty clear that the discussion is about Permaculture farms replacing industrial monoculture farming. Not doubling-down on eating foods that require the inherently unsustainable Haber–Bosch process to grow monoculture fields of wheat, soy, rice, etc…
#3 By: Jeff Fisher, December 2nd, 2013 15:31
I'm a bit dubious of the whole project.
In my experience there is a very strong relationship between the quality of the food at a vegetarian restaurant and the absence of "meat" in the menu.
A menu full of "chicken" "beef" "pork" "etc" is going to be mediocre at best, you'll be wishing you ate some actual animals because their dishes rely on actual meat for texture and flavor and "meat" just doesn't cut it. If, however, a place isn't coming at their food from a fake meat angle they will be pulling in great flavors and textures from vegetables, beans, fruits, mushrooms. nuts, and the many cultures around the world that are vegetarian or nearly vegetarian.
#4 By: Bobo the talking chimp, December 2nd, 2013 15:38
Exactly. I've never had fake "meat" that didn't suck rotten eggs on ice. In a world where you can easily identify between different qualities of meat when consumed, artificial vegetable based "meats" simply can't hold a candle to the real thing in terms of flavor, texture, or really anything.
Now, if you avoid boosting people's expectations by telling their brains that they're going to be eating something that tastes and feels like meat, then you can produce some exceptional flavors, textures, etc... that can truly stand on their own.
#5 By: Jason Andresen, December 2nd, 2013 16:08
I've always though it odd how many vegetarian dishes try to pretend to be meat. People don't become vegetarians because they're hankering for the taste of beef.
#6 By: Spence, December 2nd, 2013 16:21
Do you think vegetarians stop eating meat because they don't like the taste?
I love meat, but was a vegetarian for ethical reasons (poor treatment of animals and unsustainable farming techniques). Let me tell you, I certainly did have a hankering for the taste of beef all the time.
#7 By: Evan Rappaport, December 2nd, 2013 17:38
Betteridge's law of headlines.
#8 By: millie fink, December 2nd, 2013 21:52
Right. I've had many a good bean burger, and I actually prefer them now to regular burgers. After all, what we like for food is mostly what we've come to like. We can certainly come to like other things, and when we do, what we used to like and have stopped eating often isn't all that appealing anymore.
#9 By: millie fink, December 2nd, 2013 21:54
Not me. After awhile, I found the taste of beef pretty gross. Too strong, and . . . ugh. No thanks.
#10 By: Girard, December 3rd, 2013 05:35
I never liked beef, but I can understand that there exist human beings who don't share my exact tastes.
I do, however, miss eggs quite a bit. I've discovered black salt (aka Kala Namak), which imparts a pretty good eggy flavor to tofu scrambles and such, but if these folks can sustainably and ethically develop a closer match, I'd certainly give it a try.
#11 By: Girard, December 3rd, 2013 05:46
It seems like these guys are addressing exactly the complaint you have: That there's already plenty of good vegetarian food out there, but that vegetarian ersatz animal products are often disappointing and give non-vegetarians a bad impression of vegetarian cuisine.
That said, as a vegan, I've occasionally eaten at places where the ersatz meat was all right, and sometimes even the preferable choice. At a great Vietnamese restaurant I used to frequent, the 'mock duck' (i.e. 'wheat gluten') was an infinitely preferable option to the textureless, flavorless cubes of soft tofu that were also on offer. (And then I found out about all the cats dying from tainted imported gluten in their cat food, and shied away from the whole mock duck thing - but that wasn't due to the taste or texture 'note cutting it'). I typically use TVP in my cooking, which I find infinitely preferable to tofu, and which I discovered under the label "sojove maso" ("soy meat") in the supermarket.
The 'this is meat, honest!' approach is a labeling strategy to entice non-veggies to give it a shot, or to provide an easy approximation of the flavor, texture and form factor for consumers. Perhaps its disingenuous, but so is a knee-jerk dismissal of foods that happen to use that labeling convention. (Does seitan magically taste better than mock duck just because one is labelled as ersatz meat?)
#12 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, December 7th, 2013 14:18
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