Sunday, 15 November 2009

Experiments in Vegetarianism

If I had to sum up my dietary habits I think I'd like to be designated a 'lazy meat eater'. I generally try to stick to a vegetarian regime, but i like meat a lot too, so quite often I'll eat animal. In an attempt to justify what in all probability is quite a flaky ethical stance I do make an effort to ensure the beast in question's at least had a decent life.

Much like Kobe beef needs a daily massage, I would for instance, if the animal in question were a chicken, require at least a semi-detached coop, a limitless diet of African Nightcrawler Worms and a four-part course of counseling to help the poor fowl accept the inevitable. So, in the interests of this blog, my wallet, and my conscience, I decided to investigate what, if anything, could make a respectable meat substitute.

My first port of call were Quorn sausages. Lincolnshire Quorn sausages to be precise, although I'm not sure if many Lincolnshire butchers would be very accepting of these lumpen excuses for bangers. I grilled them and had them with some greens; but sadly they tasted very plain, a bit like a rubbish mushroom (as you would expect, it being mycoprotein and all) and nothing like a real Lincolnshire sausage. My first let down.

I had a bit of a breakthrough next with some fake Scotch Eggs though. I'd just finished a mammoth cycle from University to my house and was bloody hungry, so stopped at Sainsbury's on the way home to pick up some groceries. Before I was even out the shop door I sampled the eggs and was pleasantly surprised and slightly satiated (they're quite small). I'm not sure if they don't even taste better than the real thing, and definitely less greasy which is a decided plus; tasty stuff!

Later on in the week a quorn steak was perhaps the most disappointing exercise in vegetarianism of the whole experiment. The principle letdown factor was that I bought two steaks in a quite sizable pack; my main line of thought was, 'well, even if it doesn't taste good, at least there's a lot of it'. Turns out the steak only took up half the pack. I'm not sure of the logic of that (unless it's to hoodwink us, the poor downtrodden consumers). It's especially bad when you consider all these environmental types warning us off meat consumption and whatnot. You'd hope Quorn, the alleged sensible alternative, would be setting a good example and not including lots of excess packaging. Anyhow the steak, like the sausages was as plain as a mouthful of the Sahara.

The only real triumph of my dabbling in vegetarianism was the discovery of Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah apparently, I'm not sure why). Personally, I like cous-cous a lot, but i have one big problem with it; and that's the fact that it's just semolina shaped into a grain like shape. A blatant fraud basically. Quinoa, however, tastes just like cous-cous but actually is a grain. It also, unlike many grains, contains a balanced set of most of the essential amino acids you'd want to make the proteins your body needs, making it an ideal component of many vegi meals. The pre-history Native Americans hanging around the Andes were big fans apparently and that's a good enough recommendation for me.

In general though, even after all this dabbling (and this is sad news for british livestock everywhere) I'm still unfortunately of the opinion that most fake meat products on the market are fairly bollocks. What my problem all boils down to, really, is that I'm a traditional man, and I like things to be as they appear. I'm pretty sure I can now safely say I'll pass on each and every variety of fungus dressed up as meat, in contrast i would, however, pay good money for one of my old housemates spicy bean-burgers...

Yum. Animal. (A Mongolian roast goat). See last week's post...

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