Not all vegan food is good. And I don’t mean that all vegan food isn’t good for you. Hopefully, you already know that. But there are some vegan products out there that you hope are not the first item a vegan-curious person tastes, because it will give a bad rep to all other vegan food.
For example, in the weeks just before going vegan, I purchased some Beyond Meats Beast Burgers at Whole Foods. I made burgers for my partner and I, and we both felt the burgers tasted “off”. My partner commented that perhaps someone who hasn’t had meat in forever would be the only person that could enjoy it. This was sad for me. I had been reading about Beyond Meat, and was excited to try their “meat”. After tasting it, I felt disappointed that it wasn’t a better substitute for meat. It was okay until halfway into the burger when I could really taste the offness of it. I’d be curious to try it now that I have been meat-free for a while, but I don’t think it will make a difference, because now I realize it’s trying to taste like meat, and that’s the problem.
Today, we tried Field of Roast Frankfurters. I had read many reviews of the product, and could not find a single bad review. However, I have to give it a bad review. I’m glad to see that so many people like it, just like Beast Burgers, but it’s not for me. I threw away the leftovers. It just tasted off.
Do I not like faux meats in general then? Not always. Meatless burgers are my go to staple food that is highly satisfying everytime (but only the right ones). I also enjoy soy chorizo in which I’ve only tried two brands and Helen’s Kitchen is one that I remember. I have enjoyed tempeh and seitan, but not everytime. It depends on various factors. I usually am never offended by tofu, unless it wasn’t prepared properly (must thoroughly dry tofu!).
I used some of these products as a crutch at first, feeling like I needed something meaty in a dish or I wouldn’t be satisfied. However, I’ve gotten a lot better at using vegetables like sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, eggplant, squash, lentils, black beans, quinoa, etc. to make items feel meaty and complete. I also use extra firm tofu for many dishes. I find it completes a dish while still maintaining the elements of healthy and fresh.
For meatier tofu: Pour boiled salted water over sliced tofu, dry with towels completely, toss dried tofu in cornstarch, and then pan fry tofu in olive oil before adding to a dish.
I’ve also found that I enjoy vegan burgers most when I can recognize all of the ingredients, and the first few ingredients are grains or vegetables. My absolute favorite burger patty is Amy’s Kitchen Sonoma. It doesn’t taste meaty per se, but it’s not supposed to. It is deeply satisfying between two buns with some veganaise, chipotle hot sauce, creole mustard, chopped jalapenos, pickles, arugula and salt & vinegar chips.
In conclusion, I am not a fan of meats that are trying to taste like meats in general, and I worry that these products hurt the image of vegan foods overall.