There are so many directions this topic can go. I think that is why I have been drawn to it lately. I like to consider myself (as my bestie calls me) the MacGyver of cooking. If there is food that needs to be prepared, I will figure out a way to make it simple and tasty. While I do tout my ability to make grain free, dairy free meals, I am quite well versed in all things food including dairy, grains, soy, nuts, eggs, meat, you get the picture.
Which brings me to my topic of today – Meatless Meat products. Oh no Adrienne, you too? Now wait a minute, I am bringing up this controversial topic for conversation. Yes, conversation. I am going to share my opinion(s) and you are welcome to as well. I truly like to have conversations, that is how I learn. I think that is hw we all learn if we keep our minds open.
Let us begin. Up until about 23 years ago, vegetarianism was something I knew little about other than people chose not to eat meat, whether it was for religious (Hinduism as I understood it) or ethical reasons. Then quite by happy accident, what I thought was a career choice to learn a new style of cooking and adding experience under my belt, became the biggest eye opening, health enhancing, still continuing to learn, experience of my life.
I applied for and was hired as the “deli” manager for a health food store. During my time there, what began as a way to turn a profit in my department an learn more about the corporate retail side of culinary business, turned into “Eating for Health 101”. First I was introduced to food allergies being real and life threatening (wheat, dairy, eggs, gluten). Second, I was introduced to the world of veganism. Wow. Yes I confess I joked about it, complete with “How can vegans eat sprouts since they are living but not animals?”, and “Why do vegans/vegetarians still want burgers, hot dogs and chicken nuggets if they do not want to eat animal products?”.
And then I met my mentor whose vegan wisdom I carry with me to this day, Pam Brown. Pam and Moses Brown were (and are I choose to believe they are somewhere in the Northeast) an amazing power couple. Vegans by choice, Moses was this strapping bear of a man 6 foot plus tall and full built. Pam was this tiny 5 foot powerhouse of endless energy. Pam would come tour all the corporate store kitchens to share her recipes to highlight in our deli cases the cross merchandising of certain brands. Yes, she did use tofu, tempeh, and seitan. And yes she did make eggless egg salad and tempeh BBQ ribs, but it was the fact that she was preaching what she lived – in being a vegan, one must focus on the nutrients that can easily be missed by not eating animal product.
Hmmm, what did that mean in her life? Meals including a plethora of dark leafy green veggies ( calcium, iron), beans (B vitamins and iron), seeds and nuts (good fats) and grains. As much as she promoted tofu and tempeh recipes, her meal’s main focal point were the veggies, dark leafy green veggies to be specific. She told me that processed foods were the downfall for all people, vegans and vegetarians included. Justifying cheese puffs and potato chips as a vegetarian food was why there were/are so many unhealthy vegetarians/vegans out there. Fake burgers, chicken nuggets, ‘meatless chilis, and meatless stir fry’s should not be the foundation of anyone’s eating lifestyle. The more processed a food is, the less real the nutrition is for our bodies.
Yes she did like desserts as well. And she was one heck of a vegan baker. She had/has the best vegan chocolate baklava using maple syrup. Even her desserts were whole food based. And her raspberry almond torte cookies. To this day I have not found better.
Do I think Meatless Meat is a positive in the world? For me, No. I get sick when I eat these products, they do not work for me. I will eat hormone free, antibiotic free meat and poultry vs. factory produced food. Your body knows how to digest meat and fish. Your body struggles to digest processed foods including the Meatless wonders. Grind up some nuts and beans to make your chili or burgers. Or eat an organic burger if you want one that bad. It has been raised humanely and will do more good for your body than fake meat.
I love food and I love the healing properties it can have for our bodies. Why demean that by creating a food to eat that is no longer part of nature?