Meatless Monday: A Word on Meat Substitutes

I made one of DearDR’s favorite meals last night, and it was completely meat free.

I use Morning Star Farms Meal Starters, usually their Chik’n Strips, and mix it up with one packet of taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water. Then you just use the seasoned “meat” to make soft tacos: put some of the seasoned “meat” in a warmed burrito, and add the toppings of your choice. We had salsa, organic sour cream, shredded cheddar, and even rice and beans. I put salad on mine, too. This is a great meal, very filling and tasty.

Bun likes the seasoned strips, but can’t quite handle a burrito yet. She’ll eat bites of mine. But the girls both had rice and beans, some mixed veggies, and some shredded cheese.

Since I became a vegetarian almost 20 years ago, meat analogs have really exploded. Which is great, because it’s so much easier to heat up some Morning Star or Quorn “chicken” nuggets than try to get tofu to taste like chicken.

Some of the regular “meat” we have on hand include nuggets, tenders, the Morning Star Meal Starters (strips of “chicken” or “steak”), “not dogs” (Yves The Good Dog), Yves fake pepperoni (I call it pepperfoni) for pizza, and Morning Star bacon (which we call fake-on) and sausage. My kids love them all. Heck, my kids eat plain cubed tofu. I like Garden Burger riblets, too.

I know a lot of non-vegetarians may be thinking, “Why not just eat the real stuff?” First of all, let me say, if memory serves, this stuff doesn’t really taste like meat. I mean the Morning Star soy crumbles make a great hearty chili, but it’s not greasy; ditto the pepperfoni, which is tasty on pizza, but no grease. DearDR loves the breakfast sausage; he says it’s just like very lean sausage.

Second: It’s not meat. That’s the genius of it. If you are a well-researched vegetarian, you have made a very deliberate lifestyle choice. For me, it’s a lot about the environmental impact of the industrialized animal food complex. My not dog didn’t produce lakes of manure that one can smell for miles around a factory farm — plus, I know exactly what is in the “not” dog. No suffering happened to produce my Boca burger, which is excellent on a bun with some cheese, ketchup, mustard, lettuce and tomato.

I don’t mean this to turn into a lecture on the evils of factory farming or anything like that. My girls and I are vegetarians, and I am just glad to have so many options that are plant-based to feed my family. I have adapted recipes that my family enjoys without having to compromise my lifestyle choice. It makes me feel good. And it’s easy. As a busy, work-outside-the-home mom, that counts for a lot.

Also, some fake-on crumbled on top of vegetarian corn chowder is delicious.

In short, if you are thinking of cutting down on your meat consumption, you don’t have to make big sacrifices. These meat substitutes are a lot cheaper than real meat (check out the price difference between soy crumbles and a pound of ground beef). They are just as easy to use — a lot easier in a lot of cases than tofu. Meat analogs are convenient, too; you can find them in your grocer’s freezer. Sometimes, when you’re attending a summer barbecue, you can just pick up a package of Boca Burgers, and you don’t miss out on anything.

6 thoughts on “Meatless Monday: A Word on Meat Substitutes

  1. I would say that about 3-4 meals of ours a week are vegetarian. I don’t honestly have a real desire to go vegetarian, but I also haven’t given it a lot of thought.

    I love fake meats, though. Boca burgers are one of my favorites!
    I think I will try your fake chicken burrito idea. Sound delish!

  2. My little guy appears to be a natural vegan.Thank goodness for Boca nuggets, or I don’t think he’d survive.
    I’m really enjoying your Meatless Monday, BTW!

  3. I don’t eat meat because I never actually liked it (Arby’s roast beef and turkey were the only things I ever truly liked, and that was a KINDA liked), so I can definitely say the faux stuff doesn’t taste “real.” It does, however, taste good enough that my meat eater husband happily consumes it all about 95% of the time.

  4. Since hotdogs are so horrible to begin with and corn dogs (for me at least) are really all about the fried coating and mustard, when I’m craving corn dogs I usually get the soy ones from Trader Joe’s. They are very good since, really, you are only tasting the corn bread outer layer and your condiment(s) of choice. The pink center is just to help keep it on the stick!

  5. @susan: Good for you. There are lots of great resources on the internet, too, of course. If you click ‘recipe’ in my categories block, you’ll get more of my own concoctions.

    Allison: I hear that more and more, that people are just eating less meat. It makes me do a little dance! I would say if you don’t want to actively go veggie, don’t worry about it. Even one or two meals a week makes a difference. As you’ll find out as you read Omnivore’s Dilemma.

    Julia: I hear that, too, that some kids “just don’t like meat”. Some parents seem to really fight it, but I think if they knew the tasty, healthy options out there, they would just roll with it!

    BurghBaby: Yeah, I stopped eating red meat when I was 18 because I just didn’t like it. Some research into become vegetarian in college, plus the crappy food at my college cafeteria — pushed me the rest of the way.

    I give DearDR a lot of credit for actively encouraging me to find ways to make some of his favorite dishes veggie. He still eats meat — I still even cook it on occasion, usually fish, sometimes chicken — but around here, he’s about 75% veggie, I would say.

    KimZ: Yes, Morning Star Farms has mini corn dogs, too — we all love them, even DearDR. We can eat an entire box for dinner.

    Thanks for the comments!


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