As veganism grows in popularity and even non-vegans are trending towards a more ethical and compassionate lifestyle, vegan meats have been rapidly growing in popularity. From old favorites such as soy protein and seitan, to trendier packaged products such as Gardein and Beyond Meat, it seems easier than ever to get your favorite meat dish without the meat. Heck, there's even great vegan cheese!
Often referred to as "fake" meat, these products are actually quite real. They are not imaginary or inedible, but strikingly delicious versions of animal products in every form. A look back at the etymology of the word "meat" actually shows us that it is rooted from the Old English term, "mete," which literally meant "item of food." Semantics aside, this leaves some non-vegans to wonder why vegans, who eschew all animal products, would want to eat foods that have the same tastes and textures of animal flesh?
The answer is quite simple once you understand why people choose to remove animal products from their lives in the first place. As it turns out, vegans did not stop eating animals because they didn't enjoy the taste. Who doesn't enjoy the taste of a juicy hamburger, or a few slices of bacon? However, vegans chose to stop consuming and using animals on an ethical basis. (It should be noted that there are some people who eat a plant-based diet for health reasons, but these people are not "vegan" as they still use animals in other ways.)
Vegans believe it is morally wrong to kill and use animals when it's completely unnecessary to do so. So, it's not that they didn't like the taste, it's that they didn't like participating in the senseless killing of animals when we know that nutritionally, animal foods serve no purpose to live healthfully. In fact, it actually benefits us to avoid them. Not to mention it's arguably the single-most important thing one person can do to protect the environment.
If the familiar tastes and textures of animal foods can be replicated from 100 percent plant-based sources, there then exists no moral dilemma against consuming the food at hand. (If you believe "plants have feelings too," maybe you should read this.) Vegans are in no way being hypocritical, or proving they are suppressing their desires by eating "fake" meats. In fact, they are being morally consistent and enjoying their food just like everyone else, sans the animal products.
Follow Ed Coffin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/eatconsciously