A question regularly posed by omnivores is why some veggies and vegans choose to eat what they refer to as ‘fake meat’.
As their logic goes, you have stopped eating animal products, so why are you eating food that resembles sausages, burgers, and the like in taste, texture, and often to some extent, nutritionally? Some people go as far to label the consumption of meat alternatives ‘hypocritical’.
And as evidenced in Plant Based News‘ own comments section, this question is being posed increasingly not just by omnivores, but by some vegans too.
The case against
Vegans asking the question about whether others should eat meat-alternatives or not often have genuine reservations about the products.
One very legitimate one centers around price: many of these foods don’t come cheap, and that closes them off to huge segments of society. In addition, they can be hard to find in less cosmopolitan areas. (Though perversely, the way to make these products more accessible is to keep buying them – as greater demand should lead to reduced costs and wider distribution).
Another concern is health: for those who are plant-based dieters in the strictest sense of the word, the idea of eating processed foods, or those containing significant amounts of oil is an anathema.
Finally, some have questioned whether buying these products perpetuates the idea that animals’ bodies are food, hence our need to try and replicate them.
It’s important to first address the idea that plant-based meat products are in some way ‘fake’ foods.
As demand grows, more and more of these products are hitting shelves. ‘Plant meat’ and ‘meat-alternatives’ are often the prefered monikers for these items which are increasingly being seen as a desirable product in their own right, as opposed to a pale imitation of traditional animal meat.
Companies like high tech startup Beyond Meat are quite literally ‘building’ meat from plants – taking the individual components of flesh, and reconfiguring it using plant matter.
These kind of products are not fake – simply another – more eco-friendly and more ethical alternative.
PBN interviews Beyond Meat Founder and CEO Ethan Brown.Subscribe to PBN’s YouTube Channel here
But should vegans and veggies eat Beyond Burgers – or any of the other vegan meat alternatives available from companies like Tofurky, Field Roast, Vivera, Quorn, Gardein or V-Bites?
For many, the myriad answers seem obvious. As one commenter pointed out on a recent PBN post, when this question was posed: “Some people who go vegan absolutely love the taste of meat…but they don’t want to hurt animals.
“Some people aren’t good cooks. Some people don’t have time to cook. Some people have families who are not vegan, and won’t eat vegan meals every time, so they will make the same meal for everyone and just swap out the meat for faux meat.”
This last point can be key when it comes to major family gatherings and meals, where lone vegan diners can eat a meal similar to the rest of the table.
Many vegans also highlight how much easier these alternative products can make the transition away from animal foods and towards veganism.
For a huge number of people, their culinary experience will have centred around animal foods like meat, eggs, and cheese as the center of meals.
Being able to replace these, while leaving the rest of the meal the same, is a good start when it comes to significant dietary changes. As one social media user wrote: “We need to move away from eating animals to move away from the idea that meat is essential. And the only way for some people to do this is to eat ‘fake meat’.”
Do less harm
The general consensus (and by no means a scientific poll) during many of these arguments is that a number of vegans choose to eat these products, some don’t but used them at the start of their journey, and some never have. Overall though, many see not eating animals as the most important thing.
As one commenter on a PBN post said: “Who cares what they eat, as long as it’s not animals.”
Someone else added: “It’s about taste, but as long as it’s not killing anybody I don’t really care what people eat.”