Thursday, 23 April 2009

Vegetarian 'mock meat' substitutes and Labels

After attending the Incredible Veggie Show and viewing the stalls, many showcasing 'mock meat' substitutes, it got me thinking about its relevance in our diets.

My husband D is not a vegetarian, he eats fish now and again. He also always happily eats everything I cook for him and never complains once, but offers critiques now and again that I welcome. There are times when he misses substance on his plate. He grew up eating from a plate laden with meat, two veg and gravy. So understandably he occasionally misses the flavour or more to the point, texture. He has never gone behind my back and sneakily eaten a bacon sarnie, or hot dog. The one time he occasionally makes a point of eating meat is during Christmas, he gets a few slices of turkey for a sandwich, but that is pretty much it. Because he misses the texture of meat sometimes, he is content with the occasional 'mock meat' substitute on his plate, whereas, I can give these a miss. However, I understand and appreciate that I have to accommodate his taste buds, so now and again you will find me delving into experimental cooking with mock meat substitutes. Early this month was the first time I had ever cooked with TVP (Textured vegetable protein), previous to that I have cooked with Quorn. I also cook a lot with Tofu, but I don’t always see that as a meat substitute and just enjoy it for what it is.

I occasionally have family come up from Wales, who also like their meat, they are generally quite good and will eat whatever I cook for them, none of this take away palaver, unless it’s pizza of course. My mother had particularly enjoyed all the experimental vegetable based cooking I did last year with our allotment grown produce. Praise from your mother I think is the best accolade a person can get, forget about those Michelin stars. But my nephews are another story; they occasionally stay longer than a week and will start feeling a little deprived of their meaty textures, so I will make veggie meat-balls, or vegetarian Bolognese. This kind of food is easy to knock up for a crowd and informal and everyone enjoys it. So again there are times, when meat substitutes creep into my meals.

I think it is okay now and again to enjoy eating 'mock meat' substitutes and they do have a use and place in peoples diets, but they should never dominate your whole diet. Not every plate should be accompanied by a 'mock meat' substitute; well that’s what I think. I think you can and should enjoy the versatility of fresh and tinned vegetables. So enjoy them.

Finally, I don’t like labels, although my diet is heavily vegetable based topped off with rice and pulses, I donot overtly label myself as a vegetarian.  It is a very confusing term as there are so many subcategories: lacto-ovo vegetarian, ovo vegetarian, vegan, fruitarian, raw food diet etc.

I also donot think there is anything wrong with people who are demi-veg, and those individuals that describe themselves as either fishetarian, piscetarian or aquatarian (err is that right), but I know it is something that some committed vegetarians and vegans take umbrage with, but we all have to make decisions for ourselves on what we like to put in our bellies and what diets suit our lifestyle and our pockets. These should not be imposed by anyone meat eater or vegan.

One thing for sure though, is whether or not you are a vegetarian or vegan; vegetables should be enjoyed by everyone, not just by those who choose to wear a particular label.


  1. Great post! Very thoughtful.

  2. I too found this a great post. I have often wondered about TVP so I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject.
    Oh yes, I agree, praise from your Mother for cooking is the best :D)

  3. Thank you Susan.

    Wow, you have gone back to readign some of my old post :0)

    Its been a little while since I've cooked with TVP. I discovered 'seitan' aka wheat meat a while ago, but was unable to make some at home as I was unable to find 'vital wheat gluten' (pure gluten four) in the U.K. Recently a big hearted blogger friend posted me some, so i could experiment with it, and i have to be honest i have been amazed with the results. My husband appreciates and prefers the mock meat sausages I've made with it, so it is soemthing I will be experimenting with more in the future.

    Thanks for agreeing - it made me smile and a reminder too that 'praise from you Mama is praise indeed'.


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