I haven’t looked back since I decided to go veggie 18 years ago. For me, it’s a rejection of the unthinkably cruel factory farming and slaughterhouse mentality of the meat industry; I no longer wanted to contribute to the perpetuation of those practices. However, disavowing meat meant finding a suitable replacement for the protein I would be losing, and I wanted to eat more than just tofu for the rest of my life.
Tofu or Not Tofu.
Tofu, a staple of Asian cooking otherwise known as bean curd or soybean curd, is a mixture of soybeans, water and curdling agent that is high in nutritional value, especially protein and calcium. It has the ability to take on the flavor of whatever sauces and marinades are used in its cooking, a factor that has fueled its rise in popularity among Western cooks in recent years.
I’ve tried tofu as a meat substitute in stir fry dishes; believe me, you can barely pick it out from the flavor symphony created by the vegetables and sauces. But you can’t substitute a block of tofu for a Thanksgiving turkey at holiday time. Are there other alternatives? Absolutely, there are.
What Do You Do At Thanksgiving?
You’ve got a couple of good vegetarian substitutes for the traditional turkey to choose from. First, there’s Tofurky. Again, from personal experience I can assure you that this tastes great. I was never a fan of real turkey to begin with, and even if I weren’t a vegetarian I’d prefer Tofurky on my holiday dinner plate or for post-holiday leftovers. Tofurky is made from a blend of tofu and wheat protein that tastes amazingly close to the real thing.
Quorn also offers a turkey roast substitute that successfully mimics the Thanksgiving turkey taste. Quorn is made primarily of mycoprotein, a protein derived from the Fusarium venenatum fungus that is native to Buckinghamshire, England. Some people like Quorn so much that they’ve switched allegiance from Tofurky to Quorn at holiday time.
What About the Rest of the Year?
Fortunately for 21st Century vegetarians, meat substitutes have gone mainstream and are readily available in most grocery stores around the country. I’ve personally used veggie bacon, meatless sausage, hot dogs, and ground beef substitute, with no adverse effect on taste or alteration to cooking instructions. The meat eaters in our family can’t tell the difference!
Cooks also have a wealth of vegetarian cookbooks to choose from. My personal bible is Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking (Arcade Publishing, 1992.). You’ll be amazed at the number and variety of meatless recipes!
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