I have heard it a lot recently. ‘If you are a vegan then why are you eating sausages and burgers which replicate meat?’ Easy answer is: ‘I’m not’. I am trying to eat a meal with my family and not stand out as diffferent. I am trying to normalise vegan choices to encourage others to try it.
Simply put: for me, these meat substitutes do not replicate meat or taste like meat.
I have been vegetarian for 20 years and a vegan for 12 months. I have no idea what meat tastes like any more. I, like many veggies and vegans, did not give up meat because I did not like the flavour or texture. I rejected the exploitation and murder of innocent animals, bred purely to die. The taste and look of meat is not even a consideration.
My husband and children are not vegan or even vegetarian but I give them information to educate them about the food and drink they consume so they can make their own choices. They often try my vegan dishes but also acknowledge the source of their own food so I feel that they are taking responsibility for their own eating habits. Meat substitutes, such as soya mince in a bolognese or chilli, give us the opportunity to eat together as a family and reduces the amount of cooking I have to do (therefore good for the environment and our energy bills)
I admit to feeling surprise last week at the supermarket when I found some vegan mince beside the beef mince. I have no idea how I feel about this: part of me is happy that meat eaters are being shown alternatives next to their usual products but I wonder if most vegans wouldn’t spot it as they avoid the meat aisles.
Veganism isn’t perfect and we often have the issue of pesticides on vegetables and the prioritising of mammals, birds and fish over insects. The point is we are trying our best to make a difference. The point is we are not deliberately creating animals as a commodity to be eaten and used. The point is we are trying to avoid unnessary cruelty.
Practice makes progress. Not perfection. We are human, flawed by our very nature. That doesn’t mean we stop trying or that we are failures if we make mistakes. Humans are intelligent and resourceful so I believe we have duty of care towards the other species on the planet we dominate and are slowly destroying with our selfishness.
A meat substitute sausage, an egg free cake are not saying that these foods are the ideal, they are simply what we are used to in Western culture. Plant based options are usually healthier in terms of fat content and calories, as well as using less of our planet’s vital resources.
Vegans are not being traitors to their cause by choosing options that look, taste or feel like meat. They are making their lifestyle choices acceptable within the society they are part of, and the disdain or even vitriol they face is a symptom of the guilt and shame their critics feel.