18663 Ventura Blvd, Suite 202, Tarzana CA 91356

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Vegan Restaurants and Fake Meat

I love a vegan restaurant, but I have a pet peeve about most of them: Their menus are filled with fake meats!

For example, many asian cuisine vegan restaurants will serve curries with a choice of "soy chicken" or "vegi-beef"' and so forth. I find them quite tasty, don't get me wrong.

But, the problem that I have is that these menu descriptions play into the typical omnivore's belief that a meal is not a meal unless there's meat in it. So, they would believe, as we don't eat meat, we have to eat "fake meat" to replace it.

I'm all for veggie burgers and Tofurky and fake meat options at the grocery store. I think they're great choices for people who are deciding to go vegetarian and don't quite know yet what to replace meat with.

However, in a vegetarian restaurant, can't we be a bit more creative? Perhaps broaden peoples' perspectives of what a healthy, plant-based diet is? How about descriptions of our protein choices as, say, textured soy protein? Or better yet, how about dishes that don't rely on fake meat at all?

Can a vegetarian or vegan eating establishment thrive without fake meat???


veggietart said...

I don't have an issue with it. If it gets people to eat less animal protein and more plant protein, you can call it what you like. A local restaurant, Java Green, counts mostly nonvegetarians among its customers. Of course, that could be because it's downtown, but I'd like to think the food is a big draw, too.

Urban Vegan said...

Well, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet...and I see why they're doing it. One of my fave vegan Asian places lists their dishes with the words "seitan" or "gluten" isntead of beef, chickne, etc. "General Tso's Seitan" and "Sczechuan Gluten" sound much more appetizing to me than chicken--but they probably don't to those who are not familiar with vegan foods.

thesundaybaker said...

Traditionally, in Chinese culture the "fake meats" were replacements for the real meat. Buddhists fashioned the fake meats to harmonized better with the old traditions of the locals. Trust me every single important occasion (including death) involves eating chicken ( a very important protein more so than beef, seafood, or pork)in one form or the other. So you're not eating a real chicken but it looks like or taste like one. Well, that is perfectly acceptable and you are not breaking any old (like hundreds years old) traditions (superstitutions). I don't know that really answers your question but I hope it helps in regards to Asian restaurants' usage of veggie beef and etc.

Louise said...

I agree with you. I've always hated that they can't just come up with more creative ways to sell good vegan/vegetarian food. But, I personally would prefer some yummy tofu over a slimy piece of TVP (trying to be like chicken) any day!