Monday, February 9, 2015

Why Faux Meat Can Be Perfect for Meat Eaters

Fake meat gets a lot of criticism from meat eaters and vegans alike. I hear it all the time - "If you're going to eat meat, eat meat" - or - "If you don't eat meat, why eat fake meat?" Aside from the animal and environmental issues, (which I'm not going to go into, because they aren't in any way positive), I've discovered a whole other reason for cooking with faux meat. It makes my dad happy.

Every so often I spend a block of time with my dad at his house in San Jose, the house I grew up in, where he still lives, by himself, at the tender age of eighty-five. When I'm there, I cook for him, which is a pretty daunting task. Not only am I in Mom's kitchen, where a pretty high culinary standard was set many years ago - I'm cooking for Dad, who was a very enthusiastic hunter when my sisters and I were growing up. I remember a lot of family weekends with all of us sitting in freezing, muddy rice fields waiting for ducks to fly over. The man likes his meat, and even though I'm thoroughly opposed to cooking it for him, I'm also opposed to denying him anything I can possibly do for him at this point in his life. After all, he's been there for me for over 57 years.

On my most recent visit, I decided to take a chance and fix up some really simple, familiar dishes for him, but using fake meat. I wasn't really trying to trick him, but I'll admit I didn't say anything until he asked about it. Surely he must have guessed that since I was eating the same thing he was eating, something was up, but he played along. Dad is a good sport, and he likes good food, which is what I gave him.

I started out by making a simple pasta dish with mushrooms, spinach, and Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles stirred into the sauce. He ate, he enjoyed, he didn't ask. When I heated up some of the leftovers for lunch the next day, he finally commented, "There sure is a lot of meat in here. Is it real?"  I told him the truth. He nodded, scooped up another bite, and said, "This is really good." Score one for Team Kim!

Next I made a veggie stir fry with brown rice, orange sauce, and Gardein Beefless Tips. They looked like real chunks of meat to me, so I knew I was on the right track. This dinner was a huge hit,  and when Dad speared a bite of "beef" and held it up to me, again asking, "Is it real?," I didn't hesitate to tell him what he was eating. His comment was, "It tastes really good... and it's so tender..."

That's where it all fell into place for me. Not only did he like it, it's healthy for his heart, and he can chew it. Tough, gnarly food no longer works for him, and the good quality fake meat I served made him happy because he could actually have his meat and chew it too. This makes me so, so happy.

From here on, when someone wants to engage in the faux meat debate, I'll have my response ready. It's good for the animals, good for the environment, good for our health, and, most importantly, it makes my dad happy. Any argument that needs to go on beyond that can just go on without me.


janet vierra said...

I had some taco meat from the faux meat section and I loved it. I didn't like tofurkey, but i loved the veggie burgers and hot dogs. I didn't know about this particular faux meat and I am going to look for it. We have a Trader Joe's, maybe it will be there. Thank you for this wonderful story!

Janet Vierra

squinkie said...

It is a happy story and thanks for sharing. At age 85 and he thinks it's good? I cant get my 41 yr old hubby to like it with a sincere heart, even with gardein. Boy, did I tried, he complains here and there and put up with it sometimes. I used to not say anything when I served faux meat to my family but they know because I'm eating it. My eldest daughter enjoys eating the vegan way but can still struggle sometimes. I've come a long way since beginning this plant based journey and I am not stopping yet with my family because it's their health I worry at the end. Best to you and your dad.

Kim Miles said...

I suppose my dad is softening some with age. It's so hard for manly men to let go of that image for themselves. All you can do is set the example and do your best to win them over with fabulous food. The rest is up to them... even though we know best! ;o)

And Janet, I think TJ's has their own brands of faux meats. I had some "chicken" in a wrap once that was so convincing I spit out the first bite an re-read the label! Also check Target for their new vegan meats. I haven't tried them, but I will soon!

Sarah said...

I love reading this - how great! And watch this video on another step you can take (removing fake/faux from your lexicon):

Kim Miles said...

Thank you Sarah! Obviously, I use the "fake" words when referring to meat, although I tend not to when referring to other plant based foods such as milk and cheese. This really helped me sort out some good ways to mainstream my food vocabulary. I've shared it on FB too. Great!

Kaz said...

So glad your Dad enjoyed it, they sound very tasty.