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Aug 21, 2007 08:06 PM

Why do vegetarians want to eat meat flavoured stuff?

On the Toronto board, someone is asking about where to find "vegetarian shrimp"?

It's always puzzled me why vegetarians want to eat animal-flavoured stuff. If you look about, there are all kinds of products on the market aiming (with various degrees of success) to approximate meat (bacon, ground beef, cold cuts - tofurkey!) - but in veggie form.

If you're a veggie, what's the appeal with eating meat-flavoured stuff? Why doesn't that idea repulse?

I acknowledge that I sometimes eat soy cold cuts, but that's because I'm actively trying to get more soy into my diet... if I had sworn off eating animals, I can't imagine wanting to eat stuff that tasted like animal??


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  1. hahaha, I have been wondering the same thing for a long time....

    1. As far as I can tell, it's mostly people who are trying to reduce meat in their diets for health reasons. They use these as transitional foods as they try to become accustomed to living on tempeh and seitan and other "strange" vegetarian foods. BTW, I don't think any of those foods actually taste like meat or chicken or shrimp because the smell doesn't bother me (I've been a vegetarian for 30 years) . Also, vegetarians can get bored with their diets and use those fake-meat products for variety. As for me, if the food seems too much like "the real thing" I have no desire to eat it!

      1. as a former vegatrian who used to consume all sorts of vegetarian 'meat substitutes' å la seitan, tofu, etc, i can tell you this...

        1) none of these products actually 'taste' like meat [if they did, i never would have been able to get them down]
        2) at least for me, it was simply about broadening my choices in terms of textural variety, versatility of preparation, and nutritional balance.

        1. I didn't eat meat/fish for ten years, and I just recently started eating fish. The reason I did it though, wasn't so much because I don't enjoy meat, I really like meat, but instead I was making some sort of *statement*. I realize[d] that it wouldn't make a tangible difference, animals would still be killed with me eating meat or not, but I was making the point that killing animals cruelly isn't good. So I think the meat substitutes are probably for individuals like myself or, as a poster above me suggested, for people who don't eat meat for health reasons.

          That said, meat substitutes, for the most part, don't taste anything like meat. One of the biggest aspects I've noticed lately is that everything within them is so homogeneous. Now that I am slowly switching back to real animal proteins, I am finding it strange that fat, and such, is heterogeneously distributed. I suppose those who don't like the texture of meat might appreciate fake meat as well.

          1. Not a vegetarian, but I do enjoy the various varieties of Chinese vegetarian foods that are made to resemble meat. It's different from eating meat and has a different flavour, but it's still good.