Back in my vegetarian days, I generally avoided faux meat products. Partly because I turned out to be one of those people who just can’t quite buy that it tastes like the real thing. That, and I couldn’t ever get over tofurky. Can we all just agree that it’s a disturbing “food”?
The rows of tidy little Yves sausages and burgers and deli meats at the grocery store, almost always laid out next to the produce, not the meat/fish sections, just felt like cheating. A loophole. But most of all, I couldn’t get past the ingredient list. Have you looked at a package of meatified tofu lately? Oils, cane juice (I’ve had cane juice—it’s tasty, but it’s effectively sugar), carrageenan, modified cellulose, calcium phosphate onion powder and straight up sugar. Plus, a lot of yeasts, starches and glutens. And that’s just from the Yves website. (Perhaps, as many people are now arguing about meat, soy products are also better taken in small doses?)
Fake meat doesn’t encourage us to actually examine meat-eating, or make changes to the way we eat and cook. It’s sleight of hand, where meat itself remains at the centre of the meal. Instead of learning to eat more grains and find other proteins, you just switch out your meatballs for faux meatballs.
All this to say that this post from Shut Up, Foodie! made me want to cheer. Time Magazine reported on a scientific breakthrough out of Missouri, and yes folks, science can now make soy matter taste and feel like chicken.
…the first soy product that not only can be flavored to taste like chicken but also breaks apart in your mouth the way chicken does…that ineffable chew of real flesh…with a few random strands of “meat” hanging loosely.
The kicker, though? It took a decade of research. Ten full years. For fake chicken. Will this research manage to convert more people to vegetarianism? Will it save a few chickens or the environment? Will it lead to an increase in sustainable agriculture? Somehow, I think not. There have been rumblings over the past few years about the environmental damage of soy farming. I kind of wonder though, about the damage of the faux meat it then becomes—where is it made and who’s making it?
Fake meat sucks, but fake meat research takes it to a whole new, completely unnecessary, level.