A Vegetarian Rant

I have been a vegetarian for about 17 years.  Probably give or take a few months. I seem to recall that there was a period in time that stretched out when I was 11 where I still would eat chicken nuggets dipped in barbecue sauce in the cafeteria come lunch time.  It's always questionable how much actual 'meat' is in public school food, but still... :-P It's not always easy, but I don't think I would ever give it up. 

As a vegetarian, I have heard countless of comments, whether it's "wow, I don't think I could ever give up eating meat!" (Yeah, you probably could. You just don't want to try.) "so, what can you eat then?" (Lots of stuff. In fact, I'm probably a more adventurous eater than you. No, I won't be having the fried alligator, but I've tried stuff you would probably just scoff at but not be open-minded enough to give an honest chance.) or "But {steak} or {fried chicken} or {insert animal here} tastes so good!" And that's basically the point I want to focus on.

Meat is generally prepared and seasoned a certain way to give it a particular taste.  There are SO MANY meat alternatives on the market today that can take similar preparation and seasonings and turn a completely animal-free product into a savory, delicious, hearty protein-rich meal.

I follow this blog called Vegan Crunk, written by a vegan who lives in Memphis; she recently featured several products from Match Meats on her blog. She touts these as being an amazingly realistic plant meat.  I was stoked and immediately went to the Match website to see if these were available locally.  The search turned up nothing, but did showcase several of their products, including Ground Pork, Crab, Ground Chicken, etc.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered Match Meats on a recent trip to Jungle Jim's! OK, truth be told, I probably shouldn't have been so surprised, because Jungle Jim's has everything and then some!  So, I may have squealed and hopped around a little. Yeah, I was pretty excited.

The first product we tried was Vegan Stuffed Pimiento Burgers. I've got to say, I think I got so excited over these products, that I forgot to take any decent pictures. These are the frozen patties, and the important thing to note is just how thick and hearty they are. Most veggie burgers you come across are rather thin and flat. Not so with these. They make a perfect burger.  

We picked up some ground chicken and made fried chicken a couple times. We've already purchased a second package, this stuff was so good. I took no pictures of the finished product. :( But it was tasty - it has in fact but my favorite so far. It was very juicy with perfect texture. 
The most recent product we've tried is the Vegan Southwest Style Stuffed Pork Chops.  This time, I did actually take a picture of it plated along with the empty package.
We are loving everything we have tried so far - the biggest problem is the price tag. :( I believe all of the packages we have seen have ranged between $6 or $7 to ~$10. You can buy a package of Boca burgers for 1/3 of that, possibly less, if they're on sale. But the quality and texture of these products is un'match'ed compared to virtually anything else we've tried.

The proof is out there - you don't need to consume animals for protein, taste, nutrition, etc. You do it because you want to.  And is there really anything wrong with that? Maybe, maybe not. But I thought to myself one day, you know, we all think it's okay to eat these things because it's always been okay.  Everyone does it. And it's vegetarians that are the 'weird' ones because we go against the grain. Well, I think eating animals is weird. Society doesn't view it that way so that's not the common conception, but really think about it. All of the meat you are likely consuming on a daily basis was produced in some factory farm, where animals are abused, kept in horrible conditions, and then butchered, so they can be served up on your plate. And you all aren't thinking about that part, right? You take a bite out of your burger or your chicken leg and you're generally not associating that with some herded animal in a cramped cage. It's too easy to ignore that part. But somehow this is okay? I don't think it's okay. So, no, I don't think it's weird to not eat animals.  But I'm thinking there is a lot wrong with meat production practices.

And I hope that companies like Match Meats continue to put out more and more outstanding products like the few I've already tried. Because fried chicken tastes good. And so do stuffed pork chops. But an animal never has to die for me to enjoy them.


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