2010-11-01

Seriously? Vegan Chicken Wings?

I remember in elementary school I got a lot of questions from people (when I told them that I am vegetarian) how I could possibly survive without meat. Although those questions have since subsided, I now wonder whether some people can survive without meat after becoming vegetarian. (Please understand that this is not meant to evangelize about any benefits vegetarianism has over omnivorous eating [redundant?]. If you eat meat, I have no problem with it; I have my own reasons for remaining a vegetarian.)
Case in point: our dining hall's vegetarian meal tonight was vegan chicken wings. (I'll just say that I didn't have it.) This isn't the first time that the dining hall has served a soy-based meat substitute for the vegetarian meal, and I really don't like eating these sorts of vegan meat substitutes because they're too squishy and quite bland (among other issues).
So really? Vegan chicken wings? This dining hall has served many different foreign vegetarian dishes (many of them variants on traditional Mexican and Italian dishes). And to answer the question that people asked in elementary school, I can survive without meat because there are thousands of Indian dishes that use no meat at all. So if you can do Mexican and Italian vegetarian food, why not some Indian food next time? Why is it necessary to have meat substitutes? After all, not all vegetarians are former meat-eaters.

2 comments:

  1. I'm not a vegetarian personally but my wife is and I can totally sympathise with your frustration.
    I suspect that a large part of the pseudo-meat boom is down to the fact that for most non-vegetarians cooking for the lone vegetarian (aka awkward person) is an annoyance and an afterthought. I know that most of my family when cooking for my wife will just fall into the lazy practice of cooking the same thing but with faux-meat. Obviously it tastes revolting but that doesn't matter because:
    a) the cook isn't going to be eating it.
    b) if they cared what the food tasted like the awkward one would be eating meat like everyone else.

    For industrial catering the logic is going to be even more remorseless - their actual "chicken" doesn't even taste of chicken so who cares if the faux-chicken tastes wrong? The simplicity of being able to simply churn through the same small set of recipes but with pseudo-meat in place of mediocre meat is undeniable.

    I can see why they do it. It pisses me off though, and I'm a confirmed omnivore. In a world full of perfectly good vegetarian dishes (and they are available in every culture) with pulses, cheeses, nuts, seeds and even mushrooms if your are into that sort of thing. Why would any sane person use quorn mince when there are dozens of varieties of lentils in the world?

    As a meat eater I find faux-meat simply intolerable and I just cant choke the stuff down, it is plain and simply wrong. I can however quite happily eat real vegetarian food for a day or so without anything more than a growing hunger (seriously I have yet to find a vegetable - or fish for that matter that is as filling as meat).

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  2. @T_Beermonster: You are right about a reason being that it's often a bunch of non-vegetarians cooking for a lone vegetarian. However, there are plenty of vegetarians who eat in our dining hall which has a dedicated station for vegetarian meals. Given that, I'm not really sure why they decided to make some faux-meat dish. Thanks for the comment!

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