It always frutrates me when i hear people say “I can’t go vegan, the fake meat isn’t meaty enough.”
As a fully fledged vegan who doesn’t like eating animal flesh and doesn’t particularly want to be reminded that a) I used to eat flesh or b) others still do eat flesh every time I sit down to eat, therefore I am more than happy for the ‘mock’ meats to not taste or feel EXACTLY like the real thing.
Just because vegan food doesn’t taste the same doesn’t mean its not as tasty. You like meat because you are accustomed to it.
Take a baby for instance. Their first taste of food is usually a puree. Which ones did your infant lap up and prefer?
Well having had 4 children myself I happen to know all of mine loved fruit purees but were never overly keen on the meat variety. But they became accustomed to the flavours as we present them with them daily. We dont tell our children not to try new foods so why do so many adults fear trying a new healthier life style? Is it really just because something tastes slightly different?
As it happens, I do get it. I WAS that adult once. So heres the process of how I changed….
When I initially decided to become vegan just over 1year ago, I too kept shouting out about wanting more meat substitutes that tasted exactly like the real thing. Yet i felt so passionately about the cause that it wasn’t enough to put me off being vegan.
Firstly i found I needed to shop around more to get good substitutes. Its all very well to try one supermarket brand of ‘fake’ meat and say “yuck Im not trying substitute meat again!” But would you do that if it was a pack of real chicken nuggets?
No. You’d make sure you didn’t buy that brand again but it wouldn’t put you off all together.
So my advice through knowlede learnt the hard way is dont give up after one fail. Yes there are some rubbish alternatives out there, and yes most of these rubbish alternatives seem to be stacked up in shops instead of some of the better ones, but dont let it put you off! Shop around, shop online and you will find ones you like.
What I noticed start to happen to myself was that after a few months of not eating the real thing, Id go back and try again with certain substitutes i’d previuosly disregarded and to my amazement I found i liked them.
I can only put this down to my own natural way my body and tastebuds adjusted to my new diet. Slowly i started to not desire foods I once couldn’t live witout and I started to realise that vegan wasn’t tasteless or too smelly or squishy or any other sense I had experienced. I was simply only very used to certain foods and changing was different. Not worse.
Now that I’ve been vegan for as long as 1 year, which lets face it is no time at all, I am now very accustomed to the vegan diet and can’t bare the idea of eating certain foods i once loved.
The hardest part was cheese and eggs for me.
I started replacing cheese in my sandwiches for marmite and I could begin to stand the smell of the vegan parmesan cheese on my pasta instead of my usual mature cheddar and although I do eat alot of vegan cheeses I haven’t yet found one i like enough for my sandwiches. But that’s ok. I prefer fresh salad these days anyway and there are some amazing cheese spreads.
Ive always loved a fry up. Bacon and eggs were a big part of that! As I said above, I am accustomed to vegan bacon and really enjoy eating it. I never feel its not good enough or tasty enough. More than that, my husband and 4 children eat it too with no fuss so it must be good. We tried egg replacers to make scrambled egg at first but then I slowly realised we dont need eggs. At first i couldn’t imagine a fry up without eggs! But then after a while I stopped liking the idea of eggs all together.
Tonight for dinner my family of 6 all sat down for a fry up. Vegan sausages and bacon…no eggs.
Do you know not one family member asked for egg. Its the natural process, they dont even realise its missing, its just not needed any more.
The journey my family have been though has facsinated me, watching each individuals perspective change slowly at their own pace. How we’ve all adjusted to a new healthier life style and now try so many new foods, textures and flavours.
My children fought it at the begining and now they embrace it. (Almost all of the time. Lets not kid ourselves)
Milk was a big issue for me at first. I tried every plant based milk going, starting with soya. “Yuck, yuck yuck.”
I stopped drinking milk and stopped having cereal. Breakfast was toast for about 4 months! Still not a reason to refuse veganism. Still not a good enough reason to fund the toture and pain inflicted on animals. So I endured my new diet doing exactly what i always tell my children to do…try and try again.
I slowly I guess forgot the taste of cows milk and when trying soya milk again in cereal one day, I found i liked it. I found it tasted “normal”. I guess drinking it in my tea all this time was just enough for me to get used to the taste without realising it. That was the start of me realising that my taste buds were begining to accpet my new diet and not only that but the realisation that all those years of being conditioned to meat and dairy could be easily undone with a bit of determination. Dairy free is not worse..just different. Different in a good way, as now if i was asked to drink cows milk, my tastebuds would not like it one bit!
So my advice to all who moan that substitutes aren’t exactly the same….give them a chance, they are not worse, you have become conditioned to eating certain foods. Lets now condition ourselves to eating healthily for us, our children, our animal friends and for our planet!