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How to Make All the Meat You Eat Out of Wheat
December 4, 2008 3:13 PM   Subscribe

So when I was in London some buddies and I went into one of the many all you can eat Chinese restaurants. It was a nice spread too: fish, chicken, steaks all slathered in sauces. "That was great," one of my friends said. "Yeah," I responded. "And all vegetarian, too!" They were dumbfounded. I was apparently the only one who'd noticed the "Vegetarian" sign in the window, and they were all victims of the hoax meat known as Seitan.

The term "Seitan" was supposedly coined in the 1960s by George Ohsawa, the founder of the Macrobiotics movement. However, the use of wheat gluten (seitan's sole ingredient) as a meat substitute has a much longer history. Its use supposedly began in Buddhist monasteries as a substitute for duck. Today it is popular in both Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Having made it from scratch (that is, from whole wheat flour) myself I can tell you that it is not difficult, just time consuming. It's faster to make it with instant gluten.

This is probably obvious, but seitan is made of 100% wheat gluten, so you should not eat it if you are Sarah Vowell or anyone else who suffers from Celiac disease or wheat allergies. (You could try gluten-free gluten instead).

The name of this post came from one of the earlier books on "Wheat Meat" that also taught me how to make seitan the first (and only) time I made it.
posted by Deathalicious (151 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
shaitan?
posted by MNDZ at 3:18 PM on December 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


You little devil.
posted by kittyprecious at 3:20 PM on December 4, 2008


Hail Seitan!
posted by vibrotronica at 3:21 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


You could try gluten-free gluten instead

And if I haven't... does that make my diet gluten-free gluten-free?
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:22 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I envy my vegan friends the seemingly tremendous thrill they get from being extremely proud of their morally impeccable diets and also being able to ask someone if they'd like to come over and eat some braised satan within the same life.
posted by goldfinches at 3:22 PM on December 4, 2008


Seitan pairs perfectly with a Mint Julep.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:23 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Produces it’s own spice, I understand (which can be used to develop prescience)

Are you missing out on amino acids if you stick with just vegetable protein?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:24 PM on December 4, 2008


Vegetarian chefs worship Seitan.

Seriously though, I love it, and I'm not a vegetarian. If you see "mock duck" on a menu, it's not way of preparing waterfowl.
posted by lekvar at 3:24 PM on December 4, 2008


The only good seitan I've ever had is at the ever-expensive Le Commensal (though they seem to have dropped the snooty-french-article). But man, was it good. I think it's really all about the sauce.

Also, I like Quorn.
posted by GuyZero at 3:24 PM on December 4, 2008


As a vegetarian, I was used to soy-based ersatz meat products. So the first time I ordered a Seitan (horrible name) meat substitute at a restaurant, I actually sent it back to the kitchen. "There is no way that is not real chicken!" It is very convincing stuff.
posted by Faze at 3:26 PM on December 4, 2008


Hail Seitan!

Hmmmm... I wonder... whoo could it be...?
posted by Deathalicious at 3:29 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


The lack of wheat-free meat substitutes is the thing that keeps me from being 100% vegetarian. I just can never be sure that a veggie burger won't make me sick. When cooking at home, tofu is my favorite thing in the world.

We made one of those Vegan Whole Turkeys for Thanksgiving, but even it gave me problems. About two-thirds into the ingredients comes the mysterious "starch." They could have made the product more viable for a crapload of people by using corn starch.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:31 PM on December 4, 2008


Note to American visitors: Avoid the all you can eat restraunts immediately off of Leicester Square, “Mr. Au’s”, “Mr Wu’s” and the like. They basically serve various stews of brightly dyed onions. Chinatown is less than a block to the north, try there instead.

You already know never, ever to go into an Aberdeen or Angus steakhouse? Right. Just checking.
posted by Artw at 3:33 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are you missing out on amino acids if you stick with just vegetable protein?

If you eat only wheat gluten, yes. If you eat complete proteins (often from combining a grain with a legume), no.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:34 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Chinese/Thai all you can eat restaurant in Camden had the following on its windows: "Suitable for vegetarians and non-vegetarians."

As a life-long non-vegetarian, I had to give it a try for like a fiver. Greasy, MSGey and vaguely tofuey. Wicked stuff as a starving student.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:37 PM on December 4, 2008


Sorry, let me get this straight. Your friends thought the "hoax meat" was real meat even after eating it?
posted by gman at 3:38 PM on December 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


I really don't understand the vegetarian obsession with fake meat products. There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan foods that don't try to be something they aren't-- what's the point of second- and third-rate substitutes for something to which you're ostensibly strongly opposed?

I mean, you don't see antidrug activists smoking oregano and shooting up saline solution.
posted by dersins at 3:38 PM on December 4, 2008 [20 favorites]


Soul veg in Chicago uses saitan for a lot of their stuff. It's pretty good. Kinda squishy.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:39 PM on December 4, 2008


it's not way of preparing waterfowl.

Nor is it a way of belittling waterfowl.
posted by The Whelk at 3:41 PM on December 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


I mean, you don't see antidrug activists smoking oregano and shooting up saline solution.

Not every vegan or vegetarian is an activist.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:43 PM on December 4, 2008 [11 favorites]


I used to frequent a little restaurant in NYC Chinatown that specialized in wheat gluten dishes. They had about 6 or 7 (more?) varieties of it. Mock duck, chicken, beef, whatever. It was tasty. The place was within shouting distance of the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. Wonder if it's still there...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:48 PM on December 4, 2008


Bunnyrabbits, seitan, cheese and milk.
posted by sciurus at 3:48 PM on December 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


If you are a vegetarian, and you are in London and you want an all-you-can-eat buffet (though not chinese), may I recommend Chutney's (Indian vegetarian) in Drummond Street. Buffet at lunchtime and all day at the weekend. It was the first place I took "all you can eat" to be a challenge. It took me half an hour that day to waddle painfully over to Regent's Park, where I lay on a bench for three hours until I'd digested enough to be able to get home. It was worth it, though.
posted by Grangousier at 3:49 PM on December 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Not every vegan or vegetarian is an activist.

True, but my girlfriend is and she's a fuckin' pusher. As are her friends. Having said that, she does fry up bacon for my birthday, naked.
posted by gman at 3:50 PM on December 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


I usually order yuba instead of seitan, but I'm a fiend for chewy glutenous food in general, so I might give it a try next time I hit up good old Mr. Chan. I'm not a fan of tempeh, though. Too nubbly.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:51 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


dersins, there are plenty of people all across the carnivore <-> vegan spectrum that like the taste and texture of real meat but don't like to consume it for various cultural/social/economic reasons. (and neither saline nor oregano will get you high.)
posted by JohnFredra at 3:57 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


As a kid, oregano got me high everyday after school.
posted by gman at 3:59 PM on December 4, 2008


(and neither saline nor oregano will get you high.)

A fact that I confirmed for myself, as a desperate teenager, at some point around the year 1974.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:02 PM on December 4, 2008


Sorry, let me get this straight. Your friends thought the "hoax meat" was real meat even after eating it?

Yes, they had no idea. They were very, very disappointed. I believe the words of one of them were, "Please... please don't say that none of that was meat." It was almost an affront, I think. Like they'd gone through all that process of eating and weren't even getting fleshy goodness out of it.

I really do wish I could remember the name of the restaurant. It was dirt cheap (maybe £8) and fooled a whole crowd of carnivores (the "Please" guy was Brazilian, and you know how serious those guys are about meat).

I really don't understand the vegetarian obsession with fake meat products. There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan foods that don't try to be something they aren't-- what's the point of second- and third-rate substitutes for something to which you're ostensibly strongly opposed?

Hot dogs are fun. Hamburgers are fun. As a kid, I was raised on vegetarian versions of these and they have the "normal" textures that I think of when I think of a hot dog or hamburger. "Real" hot dogs taste weird to me. But I still love and eat vegetarian hot dogs all the time, even though I'm now a severely lapsed vegetarian.

By the way, Philadelphia's Chinatown is full of restaurants that offer 100% vegetarian food, most of it based around seitan (although tofu and bean curd sheets make an appearance); try the dim sum assortment (including amazing crispy chicken drumsticks) at Singapore. And Govinda's, on South Street just west of Broad, offers up "gourmet" fake meat at real gourmet prices. I loved the appetizer (scallops with bok choy), but didn't like the entree of "roast duck" (it tasted pretty much exactly like a Boca burger, not that I don't like Boca burgers, just that they taste nothing like duck and I'm not happy paying more than $15 for them).
posted by Deathalicious at 4:02 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Eponysterical.
posted by ardgedee at 4:03 PM on December 4, 2008


What JohnFredra said. My reasons for avoiding meat have a lot more to do with people than with animals. And if there's one thing I know about people, THEY LOVE MEAT.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:03 PM on December 4, 2008


Guess I shoulda hung out with gman, who obviously got the good stuff...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:03 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Having said that, she does fry up bacon for my birthday, naked.

While naked women and sex are two things I like a lot, frying bacon naked is not a very good idea. Even with a splatter guard. Unless you find treating bacon-fat-splatter burns sexy.

I'm not a fan of tempeh, though.

Shut up! Tempeh is great! Marinated with herbs and balsamic, pan-fried, served with some broccoli rabe and some angel hair pasta... mmmm. I like it a lot better than the bland blandness of tofu.

Blandy McBlandster. The Blandmeister. The Duke of Bland. American Blandstand. Blandarama-ding-dong.
posted by GuyZero at 4:04 PM on December 4, 2008


"hoax" meat? Isn't that a little loaded?

what's the point of second- and third-rate substitutes for something to which you're ostensibly strongly opposed?

Because the rest of the taco or hamburger, while yummy, isn't the same without it? Or because you don't want to sit there with a salad at that Big Party?

I mean, you like meat...so why are you putting cheese, which is a second or third-rate animal product, on your pizza? Why not just 100% meat? (Actually...that does sound kinda good. But my point stands.)
posted by DU at 4:05 PM on December 4, 2008


While naked women and sex are two things I like a lot, frying bacon naked is not a very good idea. Even with a splatter guard. Unless you find treating bacon-fat-splatter burns sexy.

Oh come on. Getting high and watching a naked vegetarian dance around whilst attempting to avoid the popping grease is good fun.
posted by gman at 4:08 PM on December 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


what's the point of second- and third-rate substitutes for something to which you're ostensibly strongly opposed?

OH AND ANOTHER THING. What's "ostensibly" doing in there? As though by using seitan you are scamming someone or finding a loophole in vegetarianism while still eating something that is equivalent to meat. There are many reasons to avoid meat and very few of them have to do with the taste and texture, which is the only thing something like seitan is trying to replicate. Would it be less of a loophole for you if someone ate seitan but first shot a cow?
posted by DU at 4:10 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really don't understand the vegetarian obsession with fake meat products. There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan foods that don't try to be something they aren't-- what's the point of second- and third-rate substitutes for something to which you're ostensibly strongly opposed?

I'm not a vegetarian (mostly vegan) on moral grounds. I LOVE meat- it's delicious ... and I kinda hate most vegetables.... but I do it for health reasons. Fake meat is okay by me! It helps the transition, and if you find some fake meat you really like, why cut it out too?
posted by starfyr at 4:11 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


cheese, which is a second or third-rate animal product, on your pizza?

But cheese is CHEESE. It's a thing in itself that's not trying to be an imitation of anything else. People don't eat grilled cheese sandwiches because they're trying to have the ham sandwich experience without actually eating ham, they eat them because they're trying to have the grilled cheese sandwich experience.

"Mock chicken", on the other hand, is a pretty obvious attempt to have the chicken experience without actually eating the chicken, which seems like it's missing the point.
posted by dersins at 4:14 PM on December 4, 2008


There's a delicious vegetarian chinese food place in the dc suburbs. I don't know if they use seitan, but it's delicious. Also, I like it.
posted by inigo2 at 4:15 PM on December 4, 2008


Grangousier, seconding anything on Drummond St. It's a whole street of south Indian restaurants and delis, with fantastic food you don't get in the typical curry houses. There's a place, whose name begins with a "D" around there, which has amazing thalis. But Chutney's does the best buffet in town. Very easy to get to from Euston (overland) train station.

If you're looking for jaw-droppingly cheap vegan in London, go to the end of Chapel market in Islington, and find the Bhel Puri house there. It's militantly vegetarian, and £3 last time I was there (news clippings inside confirm the food was more expensive in the 1980s there.) All you can eat curry, rice, crispyfriedthings, and little breads. Served from what can be best described as buckets. But damn, is that a keen and novel place to eat. The interior is wall-to-wall vegetarian propaganda, with Miss Malaysia 1994 photographs (she's vegetarian!),
misinterpreted charts, and how quinoa cures both cancer and headaches.

Now, dersins, I know you're joking, but I've puzzled over this a long time myself, as a long-time vegetarian.
I really don't understand the vegetarian obsession with fake meat products. There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan foods that don't try to be something they aren't-- what's the point of second- and third-rate substitutes for something to which you're ostensibly strongly opposed?
Prepared food isn't just about taste and content. We have, over the years, adopted a great many conventions for preparation of food. The round burger fits neatly inside a round bun. The sausage is a versatile device, working as well on a plate as in a roll. As a vegetarian, why should I need to reinvent a food ecosystem simply to reinforce we have differing diets? Does it not make more sense to use the paraphernalia and accoutrements of carrion consumption for ethical ends, than to reject generations of refined conventions and conveniences?
posted by davemee at 4:15 PM on December 4, 2008 [8 favorites]


"Mock chicken", on the other hand, is a pretty obvious attempt to have the chicken experience without actually eating the chicken, which seems like it's missing the point.

Or it's smashing the point dead-on, in that no chicken died for their chicken experience.
posted by inigo2 at 4:16 PM on December 4, 2008 [9 favorites]


I mean, you like meat...so why are you putting cheese, which is a second or third-rate animal product, on your pizza? Why not just 100% meat?

As shown in this well known study, the cheese is necessary as a substrate to anchor the beef or other meat to the pizza's surface. Otherwise how would you keep it on the left?
posted by contraption at 4:16 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


But cheese is CHEESE. It's a thing in itself that's not trying to be an imitation of anything else.

Uh...actually, it's trying to be milk. Which was in turn trying to human milk and/or meat. It's just been a long time so we "promoted" cheese to a first-rate food. Three thousand years from now, when soylent green is no longer made of people, no one will call it "hoax human".
posted by DU at 4:17 PM on December 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


For the record, I'm not a vegetarian at all. I just ate a gigantic hamburger for dinner. And yet sometimes I like to order a "meat substitute" in my entree. Why do I do this? I suppose it's because these various other things taste different and have different textures from beef, chicken or pork, and I like variety in my diet. Plus they're healthier, both for me and for the environment as a whole. But I don't know; maybe my thinking is just flawed.

(As long as grease spatter can be avoided, naked bacon-cooking is hawt.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:18 PM on December 4, 2008


a pretty obvious attempt to have the chicken experience without actually eating the chicken

Because I know you wouldn't attempt to have the beef experience without actually killing a cow.
posted by DU at 4:20 PM on December 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


I have fond, fond memories of my experience at Bamboo Garden in Seattle. I get a little sad and jealous every time my Washington state friends mention eating there.

I'm not a big eater of fake meat -- I keep veggie burgers in the freezer for emergencies (for the "I'm too lazy to cook or go shopping nights") but every now and then, when I go out, I do want a dish that's pretending to be meat and maybe not always doing a good job at it. (I actually like it better when I have no doubt it's not actual meat. When it seems to close to the real thing, I worry).

Because of that, I absolutely love Harmony Cafe in Georgetown. It's not what I'd call great food, but at the same time, it's wonderful. I think we may be going there this weekend.

I should actually try to make some homemade seitan at some point. That might be a good weekend project.
posted by darksong at 4:24 PM on December 4, 2008


This buffet is so not the place for gluten-free gluttons.
posted by grounded at 4:25 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


It helps the transition, and if you find some fake meat you really like, why cut it out too?

Fair enough, but considering who is eating these products, I still find the look of some of them a little odd, to say the least.
posted by gman at 4:25 PM on December 4, 2008


I know you wouldn't attempt to have the beef experience without actually killing a cow.

I love it when this argument gets trotted out, like somehow meat eaters who don't talk, kill, and butcher everything they eat are hypocrites. Tell me, DU, how'd your soybean crop do this year?

Look, I'd have no compunctions about killing the meat that I eat. I've certainly done it with fish. It's just that my 1000-square foot urban cattle ranch doesn't support much grazing stock.
posted by dersins at 4:26 PM on December 4, 2008


I respect a person who kills their own meat far more than I do myself.
posted by gman at 4:28 PM on December 4, 2008


If someone wants to eat fake meat, who cares. If someone wants to eat meat, WHO CARES. Shut the fuck up about it already and let people decide to live their lives as they see fit.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:29 PM on December 4, 2008 [11 favorites]


Not sure if that reads funny. What I'm getting at is it's admirable for someone who eats meat to know how that meat was killed and processed.
posted by gman at 4:29 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


How is this newsworthy? Animals have been turning wheat into meat for thousands of years.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:29 PM on December 4, 2008 [11 favorites]


If someone wants to eat fake meat, who cares. If someone wants to eat meat, WHO CARES. Shut the fuck up about it already and let people decide to live their lives as they see fit.

If some bartender I don't know hates me, who cares?
posted by gman at 4:30 PM on December 4, 2008


I don't really care what people choose to eat, but I absolutely do NOT believe that your "meat eating" friends really thought those "steaks" were meat. I've eaten an assload of seitan in my life, and there is no way you could be fooled.

Oh wait, maybe you stopped off at the all you can drink buffet first.
posted by keep_evolving at 4:36 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's a restaurant right by Washington Square in NYC called Vegetarian's Paradise II. (No, I don't know what happened to the first one or where it is.) Their entire menu is fake meat in all styles- including soul food. The exception to this is their portabella mushroom dishes. The first time I ate there I had beer-battered portabella mushrooms that were amazing. The second time they were mediocre. I had always looked at my friend funny when she dragged me there, but I'm understanding now why she likes the place so much.

Still not about to give up meat. And still slightly unnerved by meat substitutes. But I think this is the beginning of me getting over that.
posted by Hactar at 4:40 PM on December 4, 2008


You know the best thing about seitan? It can be substituted, cup-for-cup, in all of your favorite Tuscan wild boar recipes.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:40 PM on December 4, 2008


like somehow meat eaters who don't talk, kill, and butcher everything they eat are hypocrites. Tell me, DU, how'd your soybean crop do this year?

Actually, I'm a meat eater too. I'm just mocking your idiotic arguments.

I actually don't consider non-butchering meat eaters to be hypocrites. That is precisely my point: I also don't consider seitan-eating vegetarians to be hypocrites, but your comments indicate that you do.
posted by DU at 4:40 PM on December 4, 2008


"I don't really care what people choose to eat, but I absolutely do NOT believe that your "meat eating" friends really thought those "steaks" were meat."

Keep in mind that nearly everything was fried and smothered in sauce. But dude, I am telling you, they were devastated. Drinking may or may not have been involved; it's long enough ago that I don't really remember.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:44 PM on December 4, 2008


I have fond, fond memories of my experience at Bamboo Garden in Seattle. I used live right around the corner from there and ate there all the time. I liked it but I still think the fake meats stuff was their weakest stuff.


Prepared food isn't just about taste and content. We have, over the years, adopted a great many conventions for preparation of food. The round burger fits neatly inside a round bun. The sausage is a versatile device, working as well on a plate as in a roll. As a vegetarian, why should I need to reinvent a food ecosystem simply to reinforce we have differing diets? Does it not make more sense to use the paraphernalia and accoutrements of carrion consumption for ethical ends, than to reject generations of refined conventions and conveniences?


I think the issue is why try to simulate the flavor of something rather than just come up something better or unique that can stand alone without the inevitable and disappointing comparisons. So far in my experience the simulations, once you have a taste for the real thing, always disappoint.

When I was a vegetarian Tofurkey and Facon only served to remind me of what I missing and simply depressed me. While there were many stand alone veggie dishes that were awesome without the pretense of having something "meat-like" simulated in them. Though I actually like Boca Burgers and still eat them.
posted by tkchrist at 4:46 PM on December 4, 2008


*reads on and continues eating his fake riblets*
posted by cthuljew at 4:46 PM on December 4, 2008


Seitan isn't fake meat, it's real seitan and it's delicious. Same for tofu and tempeh. They're not trying to be mock duck or mock chicken or whatever - they just are what they are. Why people call them that, I don't know. I'm an omnivore and I eat all three happily and often. When I have a tempeh reuben, it's not because I'm pining for a "real" reuben, it's because I genuinely like tempeh reuben - all reubens function as a vehicle for sauerkraut and russian dressing anyway, let's face it, just like snails and artichokes are vehicles for garlic butter. Yum, garlic butter.
posted by mygothlaundry at 4:46 PM on December 4, 2008 [9 favorites]


all reubens function as a vehicle for sauerkraut and russian dressing anyway, let's face it,

Sacrilege! That's like saying a BLT is just a vehicle for lettuce and mayonnaise. Some where a Jewish deli just erupted in flames.

All I can say is you must never of had good corned beef. Which is a joy to behold. My god it's sooooo good. My mother makes corned beef that...

I gotta go.
posted by tkchrist at 4:51 PM on December 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


If some bartender I don't know hates me, who cares?

I never said I hated anyone, so what's your point?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:54 PM on December 4, 2008


Seitan isn't fake meat

No. But in the opening paragraph of the thread, and in many restaurants, it IS presented as such. Which opens up the comparisons.

I've had it which out it being mentioned or intended as a sub for any kind of meat and in that context it really can be damned good.
posted by tkchrist at 4:59 PM on December 4, 2008


all reubens function as a vehicle for sauerkraut and russian dressing anyway

You've never had a pastrami reuben from Katz's in New York, have you?
posted by jonmc at 5:03 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


But dude, I am telling you, they were devastated.

Well sucks to be them and not be able to be happy without meat.
posted by keep_evolving at 5:04 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


The problem here is that you'd have to worry about where the gluten came from. Such as China.
posted by Class Goat at 5:05 PM on December 4, 2008


I know vegetarians - and even vegans - who think meat is super-duper tasty, but they just decided not to eat it. I know a vegan who is, in fact, counting down the days until we can grow decent tasting meat in a petri dish. So it's not so strange that if you like meat, but don't want to eat it for moral or health or religious or environmental reasons, you might want to eat a fake meat that isn't as tasty as the real thing. I bet there are hamburger lovers who would love to eat kobe burgers topped with foie gras every day but settle for McDonald's once in a while instead.
posted by snofoam at 5:06 PM on December 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


I know a vegan who is, in fact, counting down the days until we can grow decent tasting meat in a petri dish.

I always wondered about that as an ethical quandary: if nanotechnology improved to the point that it could make meat, would it be ethically OK for vegans to eat it?
posted by jonmc at 5:08 PM on December 4, 2008


You guys are all wrong. Quorn is where it's at. Quorn is the shit. Quorn is the shits, too.
posted by emelenjr at 5:10 PM on December 4, 2008


After reading this discussion, I'd like to throw out the gauntlet of finding substitutes for vegetables, starches, and other types of food that are actually made out of meat.

I'm not sure how I feel about using milk and eggs though. I'm talking full on meatatarian.
posted by jefeweiss at 5:20 PM on December 4, 2008


jefeweiss: that would make a cool Iron Chef challenge or something.
posted by jonmc at 5:23 PM on December 4, 2008


I never said I hated anyone, so what's your point?

I wasn't talking about you. As occurred in your thread, it seemed that a natural course of discussion was being stifled. Telling people to "Shut the fuck up about it already and let people decide to live their lives as they see fit" has no place here. Aren't we on Metafilter to offer our views on various topics?
posted by gman at 5:26 PM on December 4, 2008


I really don't understand the vegetarian obsession with fake meat products.

It depends on why somebody became a vegetarian, I suppose. I for one was raised a meat-eater and only four or five years ago started migrating towards vegetarianism-veganism-back-to-vegetarianism-attempting-to-dabble-again-with-veganism for ethical reasons. And I really, really miss the taste and texture of meat. My favourite thing in the world used to be a bloody peppered steak, or a whole fresh-roasted chicken and a shitload of paper towels, and I love a tasty hamburger as well. But, y'know, I don't want to be involved in that any more because I'm trying to minimize my net harm to the world, so I go for meat substitutes to get the mouthfeel without the grim reality. Plus stuff like seitan, quorn, tofu, textured vegetable protein etc. is pretty good for you, all things considered.

Problem is we don't get much variety here in Australia, not in your everyday supermarkets at least. There's a range of "veggie delights" of varying levels of delightfulness manufactured by Sanitarum, and a few kosher things that can be picked up here and there, but that's about it as far as prepared stuff goes. But I don't mind, I find it quite easy to eat pretty well as a vegetarian or as a vegan, and I feel better for it on multiple levels. But I try not to lecture and don't really talk about it unless specifically queried.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:26 PM on December 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


I always wondered about that as an ethical quandary: if nanotechnology improved to the point that it could make meat, would it be ethically OK for vegans to eat it?

My guess is yes - I for one would likely eat it - unless some drunken scientist engineers petri meat to have a central nervous system.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:30 PM on December 4, 2008


On the train to Kings Cross, sometimes I'd look out at the carnivorous fields and consider how the earth consumes us all, eventually.
posted by woodway at 5:30 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Bamboo Garden in Seattle isn't a great example of fake meat, I've had their chicken and beef and you could clearly tell that it wasn't meat. I used to go to Lu Lai Garden in the Bay Area until they closed down, their Lemon Chicken was practically indistinguishable from meat.

Oh, and stay the fuck away if you see a portrait of a crazy Vietnamese woman on the walls (I'm looking at you, restaurants in Oakland, CA). Not only is it run by crazy cultists and funding their operations, they use frozen pre-made fake-meat. Ew.
posted by amuseDetachment at 5:30 PM on December 4, 2008


Aren't we on Metafilter to offer our views on various topics?

There's a difference between playing devil's advocate and offering your view on various topics.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:31 PM on December 4, 2008


I ♥ Seitan.
posted by tresbizzare at 5:34 PM on December 4, 2008


if nanotechnology improved to the point that it could make meat, would it be ethically OK for vegans to eat it?

I'm not a vegan and not fully dosed on the ideology, but I live in Portland so i guess that makes me some kind of authority. That said -- I think that central tenet of veganism is that animals don't (and cannot) consent to have their eggs/meat/etc taken and consumed by humans, and as such we have no business taking those things from them. As such, nano-derived meat could be considered vegan, since there's nothing being taken without consent. (This also explains why vegans can breast-feed their kids, which was always kinda a head-scratcher for me.)
posted by JohnFredra at 5:35 PM on December 4, 2008


Seconding Veggie Paradise II as an excellent meal.

I also am a vegetarian (well, I eat fish but...) who would eat meat if it didn't involve massive, mostly useless torture of the animals involved. I don't miss meat particularly (except for lamb. ...) but if I could get artificial meat I'd go back to eating it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:38 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


It is something how any thread with "vegan" somewhere in it will be liberally larded with the snarks and rants of seemingly threatened non vegans. This one is pretty mellow so far. If you don't understand or think it is crazy move on and let folks who are interested discuss.

Try seitan foods from Field Roast they are pretty good.
posted by flummox at 5:40 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also am a vegetarian (well, I eat fish but...)

That would make you a pescetarian :-)
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:42 PM on December 4, 2008


Bay Area folks can try the fake-meat Chinese at Golden Era In San Francisco or Golden Lotus in Oakland. I think they're pretty authentic-tasting and textured, and I eat plenty of meat.
Both places are run by the Superme Master Ching Hai's church, so you can get some cult literature and check out their videos if you're interested. (it's pretty much background noise - no indoctrination.)
posted by chbrooks at 5:45 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


flummox: Oh man, I would kill to be able to get some of that stuff over here. But not kill or dog or pigeon or anything, just a person. Like an infant or whatever. They have good soft bones, which is all I'd be able to manage because, like every vegan/vegetarian who ever managed to survive past their teens, my muscles have atrophied quite extensively and my breathing gets pretty laboured so I don't want to have to run after it.

Now please excuse me, typing this has left me pretty worn out so I need to go and eat nine kilograms of raw spinach in order to get a twentieth of my recommended daily iron intake.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:48 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


In Toronto - King's Cafe. Currently closed for renovations.
posted by gman at 5:49 PM on December 4, 2008


We made one of those Vegan Whole Turkeys for Thanksgiving...


Oh damn, that brings back memories.


A dear, dear friend of mine used to throw an amazing party every Thanksgiving. This friend made accommodations for the carnivorous among us, but he himself is a vegetarian. So for Thanksgiving 2000, he decided he would treat himself and the rest of the assembled partygoers to a vegan "turkey." It was ...special.

To say that it was not appetizing would be a dire understatement. It was an abomination. Other guests remarked that it resembled "haggis," "a turtle that had been hit by a car," and "an exploded stomach." It had some kind of weird, off bread taste, and the stuffing was pretty much inedible. The texture was sort of unnaturally smooth and mysteriously mealy.

It didn't get so much as a few experimental nibbles until everyone got really, really drunk. I don't know how it happened, but a good portion of that horror loaf did end up consumed. I can only imagine there were a series of dares involved, because Christ that thing was awful.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:00 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


After reading this discussion, I'd like to throw out the gauntlet of finding substitutes for vegetables, starches, and other types of food that are actually made out of meat.

May I present Golden Apples of Pork.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:02 PM on December 4, 2008


Yeah, King's Cafe. My housemate worked there... the soy ham is dead-on. Their soy beef you can buy in big bags, great value and delicious.

I've introduced lots of vegetarians to seitan and a lot of people just like the chewiness of it, and the texture, it's not like beans or vegetables.
posted by glip at 6:05 PM on December 4, 2008


There's a delicious vegetarian chinese food place in the dc suburbs. I don't know if they use seitan, but it's delicious. Also, I like it.

There are actually two, within a couple miles of each other in Rockville, Maryland -Yuan Fu and Vegetable Garden. Both are very good at the mock meat thing, and both are very good at food in general.

I've never really gotten the whole fake meat thing either - burgers I understand, I guess, since they're essentially veggie protein in cake and handy tube form (no one would call a falafel a sad attempt to replicate a hamburger), but things like fake ribs make no sense to me. The bone, the fat, the tugging meat off the hacked-up pieces of an animal's ribcage is part of the whole delicious point. How or why would you even try to replicate that?

All that said, Yuan Fu and Vegetable Garden are very good, more than edible beyond just novelty value. They mostly just try to make good food, fake meat or not, instead of making fake Peking Duck their reason for existing.
posted by peachfuzz at 6:05 PM on December 4, 2008


I'm not a vegan and not fully dosed on the ideology, but I live in Portland so i guess that makes me some kind of authority. That said -- I think that central tenet of veganism is that animals don't (and cannot) consent to have their eggs/meat/etc taken and consumed by humans ... (This also explains why vegans can breast-feed their kids, which was always kinda a head-scratcher for me.)

So, let's say I'm in a horrible accident and have an arm cleanly amputated. If I celebrate by barbecuing up the lost flesh and freely offering it to friends, would that be vegan?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:15 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


There is nothing wrong with vegan cannibalism.
posted by robtf3 at 6:19 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I saw Seitan on Oprah the other day. Apparently she's anti-tofu, but pro-seitan.
posted by cucumberfresh at 6:28 PM on December 4, 2008


Are you missing out on amino acids if you stick with just vegetable protein?


You probably are but that's what quinoa is for.
posted by martinc6 at 6:32 PM on December 4, 2008


regarding petri dish meat, plants are living things that are killed for food, so i think presumably muscle cells cultured in a lab would be okay because they're also vegitative (if that's a word).
posted by snofoam at 6:36 PM on December 4, 2008


glip + any other Torontonians - Settle a difference of opinion my girlfriend and I are having. Do you think the Teriyaki Mushroom cutlets (E24 on the menu) taste like or have a texture like ribs?
posted by gman at 6:37 PM on December 4, 2008


"hoax" meat? Isn't that a little loaded?

Yeah, that makes me think of Bigfoot steaks or breast of Nessie.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:51 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Probably the best meals I've ever had in my life were at a small Zen monastery in Obama, Fukui, where I stayed for a few days on a retreat. The monastery served authentic shojin ryori, or Buddhist fare with no animal products whatsoever. The memory of those meals, cooked in a communal kitchen and served by a monk following hours of seated meditation, will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I don't quite get the idea of creating faux meat...
posted by KokuRyu at 7:01 PM on December 4, 2008


> You know the best thing about seitan? It can be substituted, cup-for-cup, in all of your favorite Tuscan wild boar recipes.

Never tried that, but considering the loud bangs around 6am, and the shotgun-carrying people and the wild boar hunting stories I hear on sunday mornings while sipping coffee at my bar in this particular corner of Tuscany, I seriously doubt it might have a huge following around here.
And 500-grain slugs are not particularly encouraging towards experimentation.
posted by _dario at 7:08 PM on December 4, 2008


/me would like to fondle the breasts of Nessie....


What?
posted by Eekacat at 7:09 PM on December 4, 2008


I respectfully disagree with all of the above. Seitan can be quite good, and I've eaten plenty of it. But it is not in any way a convincing meat substitute, unless you think that the primary appeal of a cooked meat is its shape. It does not taste like meat and cannot be made to taste like real meat. It does not have the texture of any meat, barring meat which been pressed or processed. It can certainly be enjoyed on its own merits, but not as a substitute for ingredients which have no substitutes and which ought to be appreciated as such by the thoughtful eater who appreciates good food and good cooking.

Seitan, you're no Jack Kennedy.
posted by cobra libre at 7:14 PM on December 4, 2008


I really don't understand the vegetarian obsession with fake meat products. There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan foods that don't try to be something they aren't-- what's the point of second- and third-rate substitutes for something to which you're ostensibly strongly opposed?

Well, of course there are many reasons someone might be a vegetarian. But for many of the ethically-minded vegetarians, like myself, the point is to avoid animal cruelty/suffering. The actual meat is irrelevant. This is why PETA, for example, has a prize for "meat in a vat".

I would totally eat vat-grown meat. I don't dislike meat, I dislike the way our farming system raises meat.

I'm also pretty much OK with hunting and some very-small-scale farming/ranching for the same reason. It's not so much the killing and eating part I have a problem with, but the fact that commercial farming (where any meat I'm likely to come by originates) is not concerned with animal welfare, and in many ways cannot be and still produce anywhere NEAR the amount of meat people want to consume. There's no way to continue to produce meat at current quantities humanely.

I would go so far as to say I'm eagerly awaiting vat-grown meat or some equivalent.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:16 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know who else is a vegetarian?
posted by gman at 7:16 PM on December 4, 2008


Look at him.
posted by gman at 7:18 PM on December 4, 2008


oh, also:

this vampire squid, it dazzles?
posted by heeeraldo at 7:28 PM on December 4, 2008


I used to frequent a little restaurant in NYC Chinatown that specialized in wheat gluten dishes. They had about 6 or 7 (more?) varieties of it. Mock duck, chicken, beef, whatever. It was tasty. The place was within shouting distance of the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. Wonder if it's still there...

Yes! I was there about 4 years ago. But I can't remember its name and it's driving me crazy.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:30 PM on December 4, 2008


seitan is good. so is tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, and okara.
posted by brevator at 7:50 PM on December 4, 2008


I'm a vegetarian and enjoy fake meat products at times. It's mostly a texture related thing for me, I like a variety.
posted by sanrio at 7:50 PM on December 4, 2008


I used to frequent a little restaurant in NYC Chinatown that specialized in wheat gluten dishes. They had about 6 or 7 (more?) varieties of it. Mock duck, chicken, beef, whatever. It was tasty. The place was within shouting distance of the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. Wonder if it's still there...

Yes! I was there about 4 years ago. But I can't remember its name and it's driving me crazy.


me too! no idea about the name.
posted by brevator at 7:51 PM on December 4, 2008


I respect a person who kills their own meat far more than I do myself.

I respect a person who beats their own meat, but stops short of killing it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:52 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am not an idealogical vegetarian, probably not much of a vegetarian anymore. I pretend/wish that I once read that a vegetarian diet is one that gets less than 5% of its calories from meat protein, but I don't really care. I don't like red meat, never really have. I don't really care if other people love red meat. I eat salmon... If I am at a party and a pepperoni pizza shows up (not a pile of pepperoni with a pizza underneath) I will eat some, no worries. Apparently, if you stop eating meat, your body stops producing an enzyme needed to break it down (BreakitDOWN) so while I can have a little turkey at a Thanksgiving gathering, turkey for days is not an option. I don't miss that. I was once an anti-meat-substitute-vegetarian. I would say, "If I have that bad a craving for meat, I will eat MEAT. Why pretend." On this, along with many things, I have softened my views. Why? Nostalgia.
The meat I did like was not about the meat. Sausage patties. Lots of spices. There is a non-meat sausage patty that I like. I have served it to omnivores on a don't ask/don't tell basis without incident. I used to like those Chik-fillet? burgers. I can make a Quorn patty with cheese, pickle and a bun and be stoked.
When I did have more of a political motivation for being vegetarian, it was not so much about eating meat as how our meat is produced. Factory farms, yada. Kinda like fossil fuel based economy, just not sustainable.
And to take it back another step, You are what you eat. Hunters of all cultures have prided themselves on the kill shot. Calm deer. Dead deer. No time for adrenaline, etc. to course through the system. When you eat an animal that has spent its entire life under stress and anxiety, you are eating FEAR. You are what you eat.
*fearlessly presses Post Comment*
posted by secondhand at 8:08 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, let's say I'm in a horrible accident and have an arm cleanly amputated. If I celebrate by barbecuing up the lost flesh and freely offering it to friends, would that be vegan?

Considering that you're freely offering it, then yeah -- it'd be incredibly gross, but vegan. Which, incidentally, is exactly the way I describe Tofurkey.
posted by JohnFredra at 8:16 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I used to be vegetarian, and I'd go over to my folks' for cookouts and bring veggie burgers. It's much easier, socially, to be sitting around eating something that looks exactly like what everyone else is eating.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:21 PM on December 4, 2008


I used to frequent a little restaurant in NYC Chinatown that specialized in wheat gluten dishes. They had about 6 or 7 (more?) varieties of it. Mock duck, chicken, beef, whatever. It was tasty. The place was within shouting distance of the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. Wonder if it's still there...

Was it Vegetarian Dim Sum House?
posted by suedehead at 8:23 PM on December 4, 2008


It is something how any thread with "vegan" somewhere in it will be liberally larded with the snarks and rants of seemingly threatened non vegans.

I have this theory that vegetarianism and more so veganism are generally taken up as ethical choices. To someone who isn't veg, "I'm a vegetarian" or "I'm a vegan" can sound a lot like "...and you're an asshole and morally wrong for not being one." So it's no wonder omnivores tend to turn into snarky assholes when the subject comes up; it's basically defensiveness, since a lot of omnivores read somebody else choosing to go veg as containing a moral judgement of the omnivore in question.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:25 PM on December 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


Eeeeeeeeeew.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:40 PM on December 4, 2008


a lot of omnivores read somebody else choosing to go veg as containing a moral judgement of the omnivore in question
That's because they're all arseholes, morally wrong and insecure.
posted by Abiezer at 11:32 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, thanks for the explanation. I only became vegetarian in my early thirties, and was completely unprepared for the amount of stupid comments I got for that.
posted by dhoe at 11:57 PM on December 4, 2008


I always had this fantasy of opening up a hot dog kiosk, where all the stuff was vegan, without telling anyone. And serve great tasting fake meat to all the meat eaters who were hungry.
posted by houshuang at 12:10 AM on December 5, 2008


To someone who isn't veg, "I'm a vegetarian" or "I'm a vegan" can sound a lot like "...and you're an asshole and morally wrong for not being one."


That's because a lot of us have known vegans who have said outright "You're an asshole and morally wrong for not being one."

To our faces. While we were eating lunch.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:53 AM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, let's say I'm in a horrible accident and have an arm cleanly amputated. If I celebrate by barbecuing up the lost flesh and freely offering it to friends, would that be vegan?

Borderline (and somewhat facetious) case. You didn't choose to have the arm amputated, but you are choosing to share it as food.

Products made from human milk are also vegan, as long as the milk is expressed by choice.
posted by asok at 2:04 AM on December 5, 2008


That's because a lot of us have known vegans who have said outright "You're an asshole and morally wrong for not being one."

Have you met my friend Abiezer? He lives just two comments up from you.

To be fair though, in Scotland, what he says definitely used to be true. You only have to watch Gordon Ramsay for about five minutes to get some sense of how true it is.

Not sure that it still applies, even here in the macho, smoking, drinking, pie-eating North West of England any more though. I think you might run across it very occasionally in working-class boyzone, but outside of that I think it's pretty rare now.

With the exception of families, who are always pissed whenever a member rejects one of their long-standing kinship rituals.

"So you'll only eat Blind Scouse? Only people who can't afford the cheapest cuts of lamb would eat Blind Scouse. It's a terrible, shameful thing to do. But I can just take the meat out for you if you like?"

"No mum, that would still be made with meat."

"But you wouldn't be eating it, would you? I'm not making two different pans of scouse. You can fuck right off."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:25 AM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]



I really don't understand the vegetarian obsession with fake meat products. There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan foods that don't try to be something they aren't-- what's the point of second- and third-rate substitutes for something to which you're ostensibly strongly opposed?

I mean, you don't see antidrug activists smoking oregano and shooting up saline solution.


You don't see many Muslims or Jews asking for tofu "bacon" or Hindus buying soy "beef".
posted by iviken at 3:04 AM on December 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm a vegetarian, and I make a vegan faux-sausage crumble biscuits-and-gravy with portabello that would make you wonder why anyone still bothered using meat. Scout's honor. Added bonus: you won't walk away from the table feeling fat and stupid either--well, maybe stupid. I don't really know you.
posted by belvidere at 3:22 AM on December 5, 2008


You don't see many Muslims or Jews asking for tofu "bacon"

Actually, there was an interesting conversation in a local fast-food place. I assume it's part of a chain, but I've not seen another one - they do all sorts of meaty pies, somosas and so forth. Everything halal.

I found this out because the customer in front of me (the one between me and my lunch) asked:

"How can it be halal if it's got ham in it?"

A fair question, I suppose. It was only then I noticed the little sign that announced the halalness of everything. My answer would have been "why don't you just have the chicken instead?", but in fact it turns out that the ham was made of turkey. It was turkey ham. So it was halal.

The person between me and my lunch had the same conversation all over again, just to make sure, and then decided to have the (turkey) ham pasty.
posted by Grangousier at 5:11 AM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]




Perhaps you could all start worrying about your own eating habits and less about everyone else's?

I've been vegetarian since I was 10. I was very idealistic as a child but am no longer so. So why am I still vegetarian? Because I have no desire to eat meat - it looks, smells and feels disgusting to me. Because I think I might get very ill if I try to eat meat. And because I don't see the point in eating something I don't want to so that other people don't feel bad about what THEY eat. So take your guilty feelings and get tae fuck. I don't give a shit what anyone else eats, okay? Don't try to make me feel bad for eating what I want - I don't do it to you.

And I like mock-meat (although I've only ever eaten it in Singapore - Takashimaya's basement food court has mock-everything and its all fab!). I like it because it has the same texture and taste as big chewy mushrooms and parmesan - I think its called umami? Since I have no idea what meat tastes like, its kinda difficult to attribute my liking for it to tasting like meat. I find the idea of having it shaped into 'chicken', etc, quite distasteful (pun intended)

Turgid dahlia - try some exercise? I've heard its quite the thing for building up the muscles. Despite my almost life-long avoidance of meat my body seems to function rather well, certainly much better than some of my friends whose arses are now spreading across half of my sofa when they sit on it!
posted by meosl at 6:10 AM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oops! I forgot the little ;0) to show I was not being serious when addressing Turgid dahlia

;0)
posted by meosl at 6:12 AM on December 5, 2008


I don't really care what people choose to eat, but I absolutely do NOT believe that your "meat eating" friends really thought those "steaks" were meat. I've eaten an assload of seitan in my life, and there is no way you could be fooled.

Oh wait, maybe you stopped off at the all you can drink buffet first.


I suspect "all slathered in sauces" has a lot to do with this taste trickery.
posted by wrok at 6:37 AM on December 5, 2008


I want to eat
All fake meat
Seitan is good
Seitan is our pal
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:52 AM on December 5, 2008


Borderline (and somewhat facetious) case. You didn't choose to have the arm amputated, but you are choosing to share it as food.

Not facetious.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:58 AM on December 5, 2008


I want to eat
All fake meat
Seitan is good
Seitan is our pal


Burma Shave.
posted by inigo2 at 8:11 AM on December 5, 2008


There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan foods that don't try to be something they aren't-- what's the point of second- and third-rate substitutes for something to which you're ostensibly strongly opposed?

Because the Western culinary tradition is based around the inclusion of meat and large scale acceptance of vegetarianism is a relatively recent thing, whereas somewhere like India, a vegetarian culinary tradition has had a lot longer to develop.

I think a lot of vegetarian restaurants leave a lot to be desired and that's partly because most people don't grow up vegetarian and learn how to cook as such. I imagine part of their success is due to having a semi-captive clientele.
posted by electroboy at 8:19 AM on December 5, 2008


Kosher bacon.
posted by gman at 8:22 AM on December 5, 2008


When gluten
Takes the place of marrow
Your options soon
Become less narrow
Burma-Shave
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:22 AM on December 5, 2008


louche mustachio, I don't know if you had the same turkey I had, but your review closely matches some reviews I read online after buying the turkey this year. I probably wouldn't have bought it if I'd Googled it first. But the thing is, it was actually very good. The guests sort of ran the gamut from vegetarian to carnivore, I made it clear that it was an experiment and complaints were okay, and everyone loved it. I keep wondering if maybe people are cooking the poor thing for 5+ hours like a real turkey.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:11 AM on December 5, 2008


I had a veggie corndog this morning and it's pretty good. I gotta go to Santa Monica later, and might have a tempeh reuben at Real Food Daily, now that this thread has put me in the mind for it. They do tempeh bacon there that's really good too, unlike the dry, cardboardy stuff that I've gotten in stores.

In Ann Arbor, there's a place called San Fu that makes fantastic tofu skin rolls that are supposed to be like pork skin rolls, and those are delicious too…
posted by klangklangston at 10:16 AM on December 5, 2008


That's because a lot of us have known vegans who have said outright "You're an asshole and morally wrong for not being one."

To our faces. While we were eating lunch.


And that's rude as hell and inappropriate. That doesn't change the fact that the default assumption about vegetarianism is that all vegetarians are assholes, and it's tremendously frustrating for non-asshole vegetarians to be constantly and consistently snarked at and insulted.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:44 AM on December 5, 2008


I really don't understand the vegetarian obsession with fake meat products. There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan foods that don't try to be something they aren't-- what's the point of second- and third-rate substitutes for something to which you're ostensibly strongly opposed?

I know a lot of vegetarians/vegans, but I don't know any who quit eating meat because they didn't like how it tastes.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:51 AM on December 5, 2008


the dry, cardboardy stuff that I've gotten in stores.

Morningstar Farms! Possibly worse for you than real bacon, given the terrifying number of chemicals they make it from in the underground Morningstar labs. I'm so addicted to it that it's scary. You just can't think about it like it's a substitute bacon, you have to think that it is just a small, pink and white printed salty, deliciously strange, strip of edible cardboard that is really awesome with peanutbutter on toast for breakfast.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:58 AM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I may need some kind of comma intervention, there. But I stand by my fakon.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:59 AM on December 5, 2008


I eat meat, but very much enjoy the meat substitutes, such as what can be found in Chicago at Soul Vegetarian on the south side or Alice and Friends on the north side. The BBQ twist sandwich at Soul Veg is out of this world. I enjoy the mock duck at Alice and Friends Cafe too.

For the "why eat something replicating something else you've chosen not to eat" folks, maybe just think of it in terms of the avant-garde trend in fancy restaurants? I once paid a handsome sum for a 10-course meal at Moto that was all about presenting tastes in different forms - foams, frozen instead of hot, sweet instead of savory, solid instead of liquid... I remember one of the dishes was a dessert but presented to look like nachos.

Part of the pleasure - for me - in eating the mock duck leg at Alice and Friends is the silliness of it. Haha, it's not meat but it's pretending to be meat! With a little fake bone and everything! Hee! And it tastes good too! That it's healthier and stuff is nice too; I don't feel all heavy and gross like I will tonight after eating a half-pound blue cheese burger at a pub.
posted by misskaz at 1:32 PM on December 5, 2008


We'll if we're on the subject of cheap all you can eat vegetarian buffets in London, then I recommend Indian Veg on Chapel Market, near Angel. Just don't go there if you are a sensitive meat eater, they have a lot of veggie propaganda on their walls (my current favourite is The Guardian poster of all the British Prime Minsters with a little note stuck on the bottom: What do all these people have in common? They have all eaten vegetables.)
posted by Helga-woo at 2:26 PM on December 5, 2008


The Holland and Barret Porkless Pie.. It costs about the same as a meat-based pork pie, but is made from flour.
I asked the manager at a H&B once whether panda meat was the most expensive meat available. He agreed.
I suggested, to increase their profit margin, they should sell the Pandaless pie instead.

I'm always surprised when vegetarian meat substitutes are priced similarly to the equivalent meat analogue. Either they treat those vegetables like royalty, or those meats like vegetables.
posted by davemee at 12:10 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


louche mustachio: "That's because a lot of us have known vegans who have said outright "You're an asshole and morally wrong for not being one."

To our faces. While we were eating lunch.
"

You know what? I don't believe this actually happened. You might even have a distinct memory of this happening, but I bet it didn't. The "militant vegan" is brought into play as the source of meat-eaters' disdain for non-meat-eaters in every discussion of vegetarianism, and I'm pretty sure at this point that there can't possibly be enough of these caricatures actually living in the world that every meat-eater has been confronted by one. It's just a straw man of the zeitgeist, like the feminazis or the welfare queens.

I know what you're thinking. "No, really, it's true! It actually happened to me"! Think back to the actual event and the specific interaction. It might not have occurred as you remember it. You think you were sitting at lunch with someone, and they attacked you, unprovoked, calling you an asshole and immoral? How likely is it, really, that it would possibly occur that way?

I used to think it happened to me, too. I thought that vegetarians were these judgey, preachy assholes that were trying to tell me how to live. But thinking back, at can't remember any time it actually happened. I hung around full-on-tattooed-and-pierced-Food-Not-Bombs punk activist vegans in North Carolina. If anyone were to have chip on their shoulder and be militant about veganism, it would have been them. They never said a word about their beliefs unless asked. I was in Berkeley in the 90's going to college parties every weekend. There were activists of every stripe everywhere. I thought I remembered being confronted by vegetarians. But actually thinking back to the interactions, if anything, I was the asshole. I was one of the scoffing meat-eaters. I would be the one provoking a confrontation with some kind of "If we weren't supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" crack. Only then would anyone say anything about why they didn't eat meat.

I'm not saying you're lying, and hell, maybe you are that one-in-a-million person who actually was unfairly attacked. But when that one-in-a-million person shows up in every thread... you start to think that maybe most of these descriptions aren't quite so cut-and-dried. I'm sure you felt attacked and morally judged, but I kind of doubt that the feeling was proportionate to the alleged source. The most likely explanation is that you were dining with a vegetarian, and someone said something like "Man, this bacon is soooo good. I don't know how you could not eat this!" and they responded with, "Because I think it's morally wrong". Bam. You've just been called an immoral asshole by that smug hypocritical hippy idiot. I've seen it plenty of times, from both sides. You find out someone is vegetarian, you assume they are judging you, you get defensive and go on the attack, which only confirms what you already knew.

I don't mean to single you out, here. It's just struck me that people on the vegetarian side of the argument are always defending themselves about this militant vegan; saying that they are just the evangelical fringe, and that the vast majority aren't like that. But now I'm realizing that it's impossible for as many people who claim to have interacted with that fringe to have done so. There's got to be a ton of confirmation bias there, if not plain old urban legend. I mean, we've all met that person, right? That early-twenties girl who stopped shaving her pits and started wearing a kerchief for some reason, and ruins every good time by getting all up in your face about how you're the male oppressor asshole, when you're just sitting there, minding your own business. I mean I'm sure I at least saw her in a movie. A documentary, I think, called PCU. And remember that girl who was masturbating with a frozen hot dog, and it broke off, and she had to go to the hospital? That one totally, actually happened at my school. I remember it clearly.
posted by team lowkey at 1:48 PM on December 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


For what it's worth, I made good on my promise, and just polished off the leftovers of my seitan with asparagus and black bean sauce. It wasn't bad, but it turns out that I prefer yuba after all. It's got a more interesting texture (more like chicken), and seitan is too doughy. Oh, well.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:20 PM on December 7, 2008


Summer Vegans, #7 on Something Awful's list of the 8 Most Awful Minorities. (#1 is good too).

You think you were sitting at lunch with someone, and they attacked you, unprovoked, calling you an asshole and immoral?

Not to dampen your righteous indignation, but he didn't elaborate on what happened. You sort of filled in all the details of your own persecution fantasy.
posted by electroboy at 9:17 PM on December 7, 2008


Is there anything I said that indicates I feel righteous, indignant, or persecuted? I don't think so. I don't feel that way. I think you sort of filled in the details with your militant vegan fantasy.

That Something Awful link nails it exactly. That is the mythological figure that people hold up to explain their negative attitude towards vegetarians. I'm not even going as far as saying that person doesn't exist; only that it has to be less than a quarter of a percent of the population, and there's no possible way that everyone who claims to have interacted with that character actually has. But it's one of the top 8 most awful minorities?

I elaborated that I also thought I had interacted with that character, only to realize I never actually did, though I should have had every opportunity to do so. There's gotta be something else going on. And I think your reaction kind of illustrates that. I would consider myself basically a tourist in terms of vegetarianism. I don't hold any moral stance to be righteously indignant about, and I certainly don't feel persecuted. Yet, you assumed those were my motivations. Why is that?
posted by team lowkey at 11:05 PM on December 7, 2008


I'm not even going as far as saying that person doesn't exist; only that it has to be less than a quarter of a percent of the population

Interesting you use that figure. According to the Wikipedia article on veganism that's somewhere between 20%-100% of the US vegan population, depending on whose estimates you use.

Also, I don't think you understand the Something Awful link. They're saying the annoyance comes from new vegans, not vegans in general. Zeal of the converted and all that, which diminishes with time.
posted by electroboy at 7:22 AM on December 8, 2008


team lowkey, there's a very similar phenomenon in the myth of spitting on returning Vietnam veterans, discrediting a point of view by associating it with incredibly obnoxious behavior.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:36 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


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