As our demands for meat reach unsustainable proportions, our vegetarian friends are helping to fill the market with products that even a meat lover will enjoy. Originally being driven by the ethics for safe treatment of animals, now environmental and health issues now top the list of driving factors. Being a previous owner of a natural food store, I can attest to the number of products we tried years ago made from soybeans and sprouts that could only be described as awful. Texturally speaking, you could not describe what the product was because you have never tasted anything like it before. Then the flavor of the product would come into play, again it can only be described as nasty.
I felt so sorry for some of our customers, they relied on the products because of allergies, immune deficiencies, and a myriad of other health related issues. This was the best we had to offer, the state of the art in food products, boy the industry was in an infantile state. But today, today we have a much better product offering and many more on the way. One of the standout products is called Quorn, Quorn products are made from Mycoprotein. Mycoprotein is another name for fungi protein. The texture is like real meat, I was able to taste a sample of what a restaurant called “mushroom meat”. The sample was grilled with vegetables in a downtown restaurant in Fort Wayne Indiana and I have to say that it tasted really good. I was impressed.
The main types of vegan meat products are Seitan (Wheat Gluten), Tempeh (fermented soy beans), Soy which is over 80% GMO now, and the Mycoprotein. You will find those ingredients sold under a variety of shapes, from burgers to nuggets, planks to drumsticks, and patties to hot dog shapes. My advice would be to determine what type of food base you like or want to eat, then try several brands or manufacturers of food products. You will find that seasonings play a really big part in the enjoyment of mock meat products because many cannot match the texture of the actual meat, which is why the Mycoprotein could be a real game changer. Try replacing one meal a week with a meat alternative product, you will be surprised how you feel.
An enterprising Company called the Vegetarian Butcher has adapted ideas developed at a Dutch University to create custom meat substitute products that mimic actual cuts of meat that we use every day in our households. They can provide the common patties, nuggets, and ground meat substitutes, but they also provide mock tuna, smoked bacon strips, beef strips, chicken shawarma, sausage rolls, croquettes, spring rolls, bacon bits, and noodle patties. Currently the Vegetarian Butcher is only available in Europe, you can watch their website for changes to the available locations, they can be found at http://www.vegetarianbutcher.com.
From recent studies such as a marketing group named Mintel, they concluded that 35 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds who were cutting back on eating meat said the environmental benefits were their main motivation. If we look to findings from Quorn, show its meat substitutes produce up to 90 percent less carbon than real meat. The impact on climate change of rearing livestock is well known: it accounts for 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization. With global demand for meat set to increase due to the rise of emerging economies and a growing population, those problems are only going to intensify. The increasing interest in meat alternatives, and the widening of its market (whether driven by strategic marketing, fashion, health, or environmental issues) isn’t just an interesting trend: meat substitutes could be essential alternatives to an impending food crisis. In fact, they could be the food of the future.
Vince Kirchner, a certified Permaculture instructor and an Ohio State University Master Gardener, is owner of Great Lakes Permaculture, Tiffin.