Review: Vegetarian Plus Vegan Pepper Steaks and Spareribs

Before I begin my review, have you read my recent post “To Vegan Meat or Not Vegan Meat?”

In case you didn’t know, and I didn’t, VegeUSA has a line of food products called Vegetarian Plus, with over 20 items, 13 of them vegan. They were nice enough to send me a couple of coupons so we could try some of their vegan products. Unfortunately, only two of the vegan items, the Vegan Black Pepper Steaks and the Vegan Citrus Sparerib Cutlet, are available here in PA. Luckily, our local health food store had them both (in the freezer aisle).

We haven’t had meat in well over 20 years, so for all the recently turned vegetarians, vegans and veg curious, I couldn’t tell if the taste or texture are close. I don’t think I ever even had spareribs in my life. But I can tell you that they were good. Both items had a nice, hearty texture with a little bit of bite. If you’ve followed this blog long enough you might have noticed that a like hearty meals.

The Citrus Sparerib Cutlets are supposed to be imitation Pork in plum vinegar sauce. I honestly don’t think the packaging even needs that description (see note below). Just reading the word pork on the box is a bit of a turn-off, but we ignore it because there’s a huge “VEGAN” at the top of the box. These were super delicious. They were sweet, tangy and had a nice flavor of the spice mix used. We served it over soba noodle with sesame oil and veggies (not pictured). It was the perfect quick lunch. Soba noodles cook almost as quickly as the spareribs. When cooking them we cheated, for experimental purposes to see how they would turn out and because we were starving, by nuking them instead of cooking on the stove top. They turned out just fine.

Note: VegeUSA contacted us and informed us that the FDA requires that all vegan meat analogs must be label with the word “imitation” and what meat they are a version of. We’ll have to research why this is a requirement since it is plant-based. But there you have it. Next time one of our non-veg friends ask, we now have an answer as to why vegan analogs have animal product names.

The Black Pepper Steaks are supposed to be imitation beef in black pepper sauce. We nuked these as well, since the other turned out fine—sometimes nuking things make them soggy or rubbery. We didn’t test these on the stove top, but we know how seitan is supposed to be when it’s cooked in a pan and these were perfect. The black pepper sauce had a good kick to it. If you don’t like spicy food, steer clear of this one, it has a good amount of heat to it. We had it with some rice and veggies (not pictured). It too made for a great meal.

The only thing Mauro and I didn’t like is the listed serving size. The Nutrition Facts states there are 4 servings per carton, which clearly isn’t realistic unless you’re feeding 4 small children (NOTE TO MANUFACTURER: please make the serving sizes realistic! Seriously!). It was definitely only 2 servings at 420 calories for the spareribs and 340 calories for the black pepper steaks. The payoff is that you’re getting a whopping 24g and 26g of protein, respectively. The sodium levels are also pretty high if you’re converting 4 servings into two, so you may not want to eat these every day.

All-in-all, we enjoyed both of them a lot and consider keeping a couple of these in the freezer for a lazy day.

Note: In case you’re wondering, they’re made with non-GMO soy and wheat protein.

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