There comes a time in every would-be vegan’s life when the question arises: to fake it or not to fake it? I’m talking about meat, and not meat meat, you guys -- fake meat: various slurries concocted from beans, soy, mushrooms, and vital wheat gluten and shaped to resemble burgers, hot dogs, meat loaves, and sausages. And we mustn’t forget the other substitutes, either: vegan mayonnaises, butters, eggs, milks, and (shudder) cheeses.
So, to fake it or not to fake it? Do I need them as a protein source? Do they taste remotely like my ham ‘n’ eggs from the days of yore? Or is that missing the point of these convenience foods entirely?
Before I set out with three friends to eat a strictly vegan diet for a month, my position on fake animal products was mixed at best. I’ve been known to order a veggie burger just because I didn’t feel like beef that day, and I actually like pretty much every variety of milk substitute out there. But imposter hot dogs? Tofurky? What’s the point? I’d rather just enjoy the essence of grains, beans, and fungi for themselves. Otherwise, if you’ll pardon the expression, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig, then also putting that pig in a pair of Spanx and a sequined dress and making her trot around on Dancing with the Stars. Is it any wonder if she doesn’t make the final round?