Oh, the conundrum. Not really. It’s really a no-brainer, literally —no animal brains were consumed during this post.
I decided to write about this because we love to eat and we post a lot of food reviews, most of them including some product or dish with a vegan meat or dairy analog. Occasionally people will ask us why we eat vegan versions of typically animal-derived foods. We’ve even had a non-veg friend who was appalled when we once tweeted that we were eating vegan calamari (100% plant-based). Some think we should abstain from any such foods because we’ve made a choice to live as animal-free as possible. So, I want to clear a few things up:
- The words meat, steak, milk, yogurt, ice cream and others aren’t exclusive to animal-derived products. The same words have been applied to describe plant-derived products for just as long—e.g. coconut milk, meat of a fruit, eggplant steaks, etc.
- Most vegans weren’t raised as such. Some of us became vegan for ethical reasons, others for health related issues (arteriosclerosis, diabetes, food allergies, to name a few), not because we just decided we don’t like hamburgers, hotdogs and ice cream anymore. Vegan meat and dairy analogs can be a big help during the transition phase from omnivore or vegetarian to vegan. They may not be the most healthful choice if that’s all you’re going to eat, but there’s no ethical issue involved.
- Food defines our heritage and brings us together, especially during the holidays, festivities and get-togethers. Having things like hamburgers, hotdogs and ice cream at a summer BBQ and turkey at Thanksgiving are symbolic and can easily be switched out for a vegan version (there are so many options nowadays), so everyone can keep to tradition, fill their bellies and have a good time.
- Some vegans are weirded out by eating anything that resembles animal products/dishes, others aren’t. Just because some vegans choose to eat such products doesn’t mean they want to eat animals. It may be out of convenience (it’s already prepared or frozen and easy to make), texture or tradition (see 3 above). To vegan meat or not vegan meat is each vegan’s own prerogative.
Mauro and I don’t eat a lot of vegan analogs. We stick to more of a whole foods diet with grains, legumes, fruit and veggies—we were both raised on minimally processed, homemade food and that’s the way we like to eat—, but we’re not opposed to having vegan meats, milk, cheese, etc. every now and then at home or at a restaurant. As long as it’s vegan, and doesn’t have a long, unreadable ingredient list, we’ll give it a shot.
What’s your view on vegan analogs?