Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fake Meat: The New Meat

My sister is a vegetarian. Not like a weirdo, PETA, I-steal-animals-in-the-middle of the night kind of vegetarian (although if you're that brand of crazy, that's fine too...), but a strange offshoot, a I-genuinely-don't-like-the-taste-or-texture-of-meat vegetarian. Weird, right? Well, except bacon, who can resist bacon? No one, that's right. I tell you this to preface this story and to explain why I even know about fake meat and would try it. Although my sister is a bacotarian, her husband is a rabid omnivore. This man loves meat. (That sounds strangely homoerotic, but I swear I just mean, like, pulled pork, and steak, and random dead birds and stuff), so occasionally they will try fake meat products. After being assured by her and her husband that some of these fake meat items were actually quite tasty, I decided to give them a go myself.

I started with something easy, Morningstar Farms "Buffalo Wings". These are, essentially, chicken flavored soy stuff processed to be in the shape and texture of a chicken nugget with a super spicy buffalo crunchy shell. And they are awesome. My first foray into fake meat was actually a success! Dip these little babies into some ketchup and ranch and BADABING! Gourmet!

Last night I decided to get a little crazier and really test this fake meat business. So I picked up a pack of Lightlife "Smart Gounds" and decided to make some yummy tacos (p.s. these Smart Grounds are ZERO grams of fat, ZERO! Which I just took to mean I could now justify the immense amounts of cheese I put on everything). I figured I could make them exactly as I normally do, feel them to my fiance without telling him it was fake meat, and then see the result.  My plan could not have worked more perfectly. After "browning" the Smart Grounds, they looked exactly like ground beef. Step one of my master plan went even better than expected. I added a pack of my favorite taco seasoning, let it simmer, announced "DINNER!!!!", and sat back and waited.

I made sure to get my food first and hurry to try it before he did just to make sure it didn't taste like ass or have some weird textural difference. There was a bit of a difference in the taste, as you'd expect, but I wouldn't say it was a bad different, just different. So I kept waiting for the review. Finally, I asked, "How are your tacos?!"after he had eaten an entire taco without saying anything and he completely ignored me because he was totally engrossed in the episode of 30 Rock that was on TV because we're a bad family and totally eat dinner in the living room in front of the TV. So I asked again, "HOW ARE YOUR TACOS???" In case he had accidentally gone deaf in the last minute. His response, "Oh, they're good. Did you do something different with the meat?" DUN DUN DUUUUNNN...

Me, "Why, do you not like them? Do you think they're bad???" Him, "No, I actually think they're awesome. Probably the best ever. I was just wondering because it tastes different" Seriously. Said they were his favorite ever. Fake meat. No shit. Me, "Weeelll, that's the thing. It's not actually meat. It's fake meat. It's, like, soy meat." Him, "Hm. Weird. They taste awesome. I guess I like fake meat. I think that's great. A lot healthier, huh?"


In case you were ever on the fence about fake meat, after this, I definitely recommend trying it. Even if you have to trick someone into eating it. Like I mentioned before, it's ZERO grams of fat, tastes close enough to real ground beef that with some seasoning you don't know the difference, and a 12 oz. pack is really only a bit more than a pound of beef (which I would guess probably 4 oz. is all fat anyway). I think mine was about $4. I definitely plan on trying more things that I normally use ground beef with the Smart Grounds. I think it would make excellent chili, too, so I'll be trying that next!

If you have any fake meat experiences or suggestions, I would love to hear them! Fake meat has really come a long way and will definitely be a new staple in my diet.

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