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Beyond the Veggie Burger: 9 Exotic Fake Meats

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By Hilary Pollack, VegNews.com

Pop into any major supermarket this days, and you are virtually guaranteed to find meat-free deli slices and frozen veggie burgers. But did you know that there are many more offbeat “meats” on the market? Should you decide to whip up a more exotic meal than a Tofurky sandwich, options abound for vegan versions of everything from calamari to foie gras. Next time you want to take a walk on the wild side, try one of these nine quirky re-creations.

Some love rubbery rings of squid, while others are squeamish about the idea of eating a tentacled sea monster. Either way, vegan calamari awaits the meatless seafood spread at your next dinner party. Sophie’s Kitchen has come up with a convenient breaded version that is also soy-free, so bust out the cocktail sauce and celebrate the fact that you’ve saved a thankful squid!

Looking to class up a cocktail party but not really interested in eating fish or their dang eggs? For less than a third of the price of the real deal, bust out Aqua Gourmet’s Sea Pearls (that’s right,perles de mer) for a taste of luxury that comes from healthful kelp instead of sad little fishies. For an extra touch of class, try the truffle flavor!

Asian supermarkets can be treasure troves for fake meat, and one of our faves is plant-based Peking duck. Sweet, juicy, and satisfying, this wheat-based meat sub by Companion is awesome in stir-fries, sandwiches, and bánh mì. And best of all, it’s cruelty-free as can be.

Foie Gras
While foie gras is inarguably considered one of the cruelest of luxuries, its rich flavor continues to be sought out by many foodies. Thankfully, compassionate and resourceful companies have made efforts to mimic its taste without causing suffering or using any animal products. The New York-based Regal Vegan has concocted Faux Gras, a walnut- and lentil-based substitute that is not only tastier, but also considerably healthier than its calorie-heavy counterpart. On its website, the brand explains that Faux Gras is “not meant to replace goose or duck liver, which is undoubtedly one of the cruelest foods on the market today, Faux Gras is meant to give people with a sophisticated palate a treat that isn’t harmful. To anyone.” More affordable soy-based patés also exist, such as Vitalia’s formula.

That’s right. The traditional Scottish dish of assorted seasoned sheep organs (sorry that you even had to read that) is actually available in plant-based form. And even more surprisingly, there are several companies that have reproduced the divisive delicacy for veg haggis enthusiasts. Portland’s Food Fight Grocery carriesthe canned stuff, and for a mere $7.50, the tastes of Edinburgh can be yours. Caledonian Kitchen and Macsween also make plant-based haggis, with the latter presented in a loaf eerily resembling the real thing.

Lamb Vindaloo
While vegan lamb in its unseasoned form is highly elusive, its Indian rendition, Lamb Vindaloo, is readily available courtesy of Vegetarian Plus. Whether you’ve ever had the real thing or not, this dish is pretty tasty, combining earthy mushrooms with hearty soy and a plethora of Eastern spices to attain a frozen entrée that’s worthy of your dinner slot. And speaking of Vegetarian Plus and its wide catalog of faux meats, read on to hear about their plant-based shrimp!

Mahi Mahi
Vegan tuna? Old news. (Although vegan tuna salad, we love you forever.) How about a meatless mahi mahi filet? Veggie Brothers’pre-grilled “fish steaks” aim to evoke the aroma of the sea, presented in a classic lemon-garlic sauce. This small-scale company individually cooks every product by hand to achieve the most delicious and realistic fish alternative possible. Jury’s out on this one…

Like shrimp, scallops are no longer off limits to those abstaining from animal products. In fact, you may find yourself having to choose between Worthington’s “Skallops” or Cedar Lake’s Vegi-Scallops when you’re in the mood for bouillabaisse or Seafood Mac and Cheese. Or, try them breaded and pan-fried with margarine and a squeeze of lemon.

Shrimp, with their pinkish hue and somewhat unique texture, are undoubtedly more difficult to mimic with veg ingredients than most other meats. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done! Vegetarian Plus has managed to make plant-based prawns that even sport the orange stripes of their aquatic inspirations. A peek at the ingredients list can be a little puzzling—top ingredients include curdlan gum, refined konjac powder, and modified tapioca starch. But hey, we’re not the wizards who whip up this stuff—we’re just here to eat.

These faux meats are just a few of the many creations that are available—or soon to be available—on the market. With this many options for satisfying substitutes, why go back to the real stuff ever again? Stick to the stand-ins, for your health, the environment, and the animals.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

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  • Jaya Bhumitra

    Food companies are clearly recognizing the growing demand for vegan
    options, and responding by bringing to market meat alternatives to
    satisfy even niche tastes. Great article!

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