Thursday, 10 January 2013

Faux fare or faux pas? Thoughts on "fake meat"

People are usually not vegan for one reason alone. This is just like how people are not Buddhist for one reason, or politically conservative for one reason, or whatever.  We are complex creatures with complex rationales for most things we do.  I would think that most people arrive at a vegan lifestyle through a combination of reasons. Some of those reasons could include (but are not limited to):
  1. Wanting to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
  2. Wanting to generally eat a healthy diet
  3. Wanting to eliminate consumption of certain dangerous compounds found in high quantities in animal products (e.g.- cholesterol)
  4. Wanting to reduce one's carbon footprint and otherwise benefit the environment (remember that a vegan driving an SUV does less damage than an omnivore riding a bike!)
  5. Having a great deal of love and compassion for animals, and not wanting to support their suffering by demanding animal products
  6. Training for sports competition or other physical activity that requires a very healthy diet
  7. Being part of a culture/religion/family where a vegan diet is the norm
  8. Being disgusted by the idea of consuming a corpse
  9. Lots of other good reasons
For a lot of vegans, you could think of these as categories and break them down into a kind of percentage in terms of how much they caused and continue to affect your vegan lifestyle.  In my case for example, the issues surrounding animal rights and prevention of suffering are about 80% of my motivation for being vegan.  The other components of environmental impact and weight maintenance and some of the other reasons are there as well, but they definitely don't resonate with me as strongly.  And it's different for everyone.

I think the composition of our own individual, personal reasons, leads us very much to our own unique vegan paths, and that our reactions to a variety of issues can be coloured by the reasons with which we identify.  In the case of today's post, I want to talk a bit about the reactions I've felt and that I've seen in others when it comes to faux meat items.

Tempting treat, or uncomfortable reminder?

Faux meat (or meat analogues) serves a couple of different purposes in the vegan world, and our reasons for consuming them could be as diverse as the reasons for being vegan that I was talking about above.  Aside from the generally disinterested members of the community, most vegans I've talked to seem to come down on one of two sides on this issue.

SIDE 1: (some combination of the following...) Faux meat is yummy.  It makes me feel happy-nostalgia-moments from when I was still eating meat.  It is a good convenience food. It is useful to eat faux meat to help you transition into a vegan lifestyle, so you don't miss meat as much.  Faux meat is great for convincing omnis that a vegan diet is not a scary thing and you don't have to give anything up.  Etcetera.

SIDE 2: (again, some combination...)  Faux meat is yucky.  It is highly processed using chemicals like hexane.  It makes me uncomfortable to eat faux meat because it is too close to real meat.  Faux meat is often high in salt and is not part of a healthy diet.  If I went vegan, why would I want to recapture what it's like to eat meat?  Etcetera.

Going back to our own reasons for being vegan, I think where you come down on faux meat can be coloured by your reasons for being vegan.  Although I lean heavily toward the animal rights and protection side of the vegan spectrum, I don't generally feel uncomfortable about faux meat.  If an animal didn't suffer to create it (i.e.- no egg products in the faux meat), then I am quite fine with it and will eat it.  If I was more heavily influenced by some of the other factors, it would likely impact how I feel.  Now keep in mind I do agree with the argument regarding the processed nature of a great deal of faux meat, and as a result I limit my consumption of faux meat as I would with any other product that has been highly processed, like store-bought cookies.  Or I make my own faux meat at home.  For example:

Faux chicken salad made out of mashed chickpeas.
Pulled pork made out of jackfruit
Fried chicken made out of seitan

Regardless of where you come down on the issue of faux meat, be kind.  Don't be mean to your fellow vegan if they pass up your offer of a faux breakfast sausage or analogue slice of ham!  And don't glower at your friend when they nosh on a faux chicken wing!  We get more than our fair share of criticism and fear from the general population about what we do or don't eat.  No matter how you arrived here, and what your personal reasons are, remember... we're all in this together.


  1. what's that jackfruit recipe? That looks neat!

  2. It is neat! :) That is a recipe from the amazing blog Clean Green Simple. Here's the link:

  3. Awesome, thanks! Love your blog, even if Hercules was awesome. Rocket Robinhood was way worse!!