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Would you try meat substitutes?

It’s No Meat May and we are hearing more about meat substitues or ‘fake meats’ all the time. In its recent IPO, fake meat company Beyond Meat had investors lining up. We’re also seeing an increasing number of plant-based substitute products at major food chains, like Grill’d and Dominoes Pizza. Similar trends are occuring overseas.

This naturally raises questions about diets, lifestyles and nutrition, and we have a number of articles offering related advice, including for vegans as with our vegan cheese taste test and vegan diet advice. Why are people going vegan or choosing to eat less meat? From our article:

Dr Kate Marsh thinks one of the reasons people are becoming more aware of veganism is there’s a lot more information available around ethical and environmental issues. “I’m seeing an increasing number of younger people who are aware of and knowledgeable about the environmental and ethical reasons for becoming vegan,” she says. “It’s also getting easier to become vegan due to the increasing range of vegan foods now available.”

However, you also don’t need to be vegan to try or enjoy these products. So, would you give ‘fake meat’ a go? Answer our poll and tell us why or why not in the comments below. Please also remember our Community guidelines - ad hominen attacks, personal attacks or broad accusations that do not add to the discussion will be removed.

  • Yes, I would try substitute meat :+1:
  • No, I would prefer not to try it :-1:

0 voters


Soy based foods including tofu have been a staple in numerous Indian and Asian real meals for millennia. We use it fried as the protein in some stir fry meals.

It is also an interesting culinary step to imitate something other than what you might normally eat. Several world famous chefs have made a career out of fooling the eye and senses. Heston Blumenthal is perhaps the most noted.

There are various reasons why consumers might desire Vegan based real foods, over animal products.

For some MMA is also a reason some cannot eat red meat, pork, dairy etc.


A reality is that eating meat (protein of whatever origin) contributes directly or indirectly to other issues of sustainability, from cows burping to the basic costs of keeping herds through droughts, through to issues of animal welfare (whether or not you are into that), to the interdependence of species.

Most of us are neither vegetarian nor vegan, but it would make a small contribution to a complex problem if we humans ate less meat, and making plant based foods more attractive to meat eaters seems a good thing. Nobody is being forced to partake and it seems a bit curious to be offended or for that matter, critical. Some of us would consider it progress in addressing the food chain in new and productive ways.

Perhaps the graziers (etc) are not enthusiastic because it threatens their livelihoods, but other than that?


A post was merged into an existing topic: Imitation Tuna Made To Look Like Real Tuna

I have no issue with eating vegan, vegetarian or meat foods…as I an a vegetarian meat eater.

Maybe another question is should these products be called or use a meat like names.

For example, my parents who are cheese buffs recently bought red leicester and cheddar slices (example below…not sure if this was the exact purchase) which they thought was cheese.


It was only after opening the packet and tasting the product, they realised that it wasn’t cheese but a vegan substitute. They also couldn’t believe that it was marketed with a cheese name and effect, pretending to be cheese.

We have also visited a vegan Vietnamese restaurant at Inala in Brisbane, and the menu has things like ‘Chicken in lemon grass’ when in fact the menu item was tofu in lemon grass (which is also outlined in the small print under the item heading). While the dishes were reasonably tasty and enjoyable, it does beg the question why a vegan product needs to be labelled with clearly a non-vegan name.

I think that if they wish to have a niche market and also expand their market share, using more realistic names would be better than than potentially disappointing a customer with a product which doesn’t taste or may not stack up with non-vegan equivalents.

Some other countries (and has bubbled to the surface in Australia from time to time) are also having similar debates in relation to the use of words like ‘mince’ on non-meat products. I expect in the future, Australian will also have their own views and thoughts on vegan and vegetarian product labelling.

Food for thought.


I eat very little meat, by choice, but when I do, I have ’ real’ veal or beef. Legumes are a good source of protein and I enjoy those also ‘undisguised’.


Last month fresh back from an east Asian trip and in a ‘give me a lump of meat’ mood. Stumbled into the first of Grill’d “Meat Free Mondays”. We both had the Beyond Meat as substitute in a regular recipe. The standard Beyond recipes didn’t sound so appealing. We’d eat it again. Texture was rather soft, however combined with the other ingredients the flavour wasn’t too much different.

We live & work in multi-cultural area, as well as having Asian, vegetarian & vegan friends. We’ve been eating tofu & other substitutes for 30 years. Just part of the regular food variety.


For environmental and health reasons I’ve eaten entirely vegetarian food, other than occasional fish, for over 30 years. Now that I’m growing my own Rainbow Trout I eat fish a few times per week, but previously it was once or twice per month.

I can’t see any need for fake meat products, maybe those who eat them like to pretend they are eating meat for some reason?


I think it comes back with companies simply trying to expand their markets. The vegan customer base is comparatively tiny, the vegetarian one larger but still. If you make ‘their food’ look and taste much like what the majority eats you could get more custom. My take it is mostly market forces at work.


A lot of people are vegetarian for ethical reasons, not because they dislike meat.

For me I’m not really able to be vegetarian easily for medical reasons, but I would gladly substitute meat for a manufactured alternative if I could. Better for the environment and nothing needing to be killed for me to live.


A post was split to a new topic: Fruitarianism

This may the case for upper order animals and the ones humans generally eat and seen as meat on the plate, but a significant number of invertebrates, reptiles and mammals which are killed through the production of vegetables, cereals, nuts and fruits. This is amplified by most farming practices where animals are killed intentionally to protect the crop (e.g. spraying pests) and/or accidentally through farming practices (tillage, vehicle movements etc).

Even organic farming practices result in animals being killed, but possibly to a lesser scale than that of its more extensive/industrial counterparts.

This collateral damage or deaths is something that can’t be avoided even if one is a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan.

Also, invertebrates are also consumed is one eats vegetables, cereals, pulses, fruit and other plant based produce. This can be in the form of insects left on the plant materials on consumption to simple structure animals, worms, larvae etc present in foods.

I also consume a significant amount of fresh and processed produce or non-animal origin, but still consume some meat and animal products. As we get older (and also after living in China), the ratio to vegetables to meat has increased (eating less meat than in my youth).


That is true. Personally I always take the attitude of doing something is better than doing nothing. So if an option like this exists I wouldn’t mind using it at all.


Given it a go for years - I hate gluten steaks !!

That said, I’ve eaten some amazing vegie meals, still do reasonably frequently, but they don’t make out to be anything else.

Tonight? spare-ribs - the vegetable component is parts of the sauce … mmmmmm … :rofl:


I’m in the Heston Blumenthal camp when it comes to food not being exactly what you think it is.

Should there be Vegan cheese, meat balls etc?
Of course there should. Food does not have to be boring.

It would seem appropriate if a Vegan product imitates cheddar cheese closely in taste and texture, it should be described accordingly. We all know how cheese tastes and feels.

What’s the alternative?
It serves little purpose to call it soy blended product recipe no 9? How would you know what it is to make an informed purchase decision?

Consider other everyday food items.
It’s ok for experts to wax lyrical about cherries, earthiness and chocolate etc when describing wines etc. Saying steak tastes like steak is also fine. So from now on, should all red wine only be described as red wine, and by no other quality? Better still just call it grape juice and refuse to allow it to be made into something different through fermentation, mulling, method champagne, etc.

It would seem there are two standards at play here. One for Vegan acceptable food, and one for everything else.

If there is an option to purchase Vegan bacon in store for breakfast with beans and mushrooms, that sounds fine.

Of course to do so the one thing that is important for both Vegan’s and those that prefer bacon from pig meat is that the products are reliably and clearly identifiable by their labelling. It would seem equally important to both groups and to those looking for something different to try to be sure which was which!

Us Omnivores and meat eaters have spent centuries playing with recipes to change the flavour, texture and character of meat dishes? Any one for a mock ham, or mock Turtle soup or …?


I have eaten insects as a protein source and quite enjoy certain types and dishes prepared of same. We try to have vegetarian meals a few times a week and think of it both as a way to broaden our tastes and to help offset some of the industrial meat production harmful effects. There are food sources beyond vegan that are useful to our diet that in many western societies are seen as less than edible or with disdain because our tastes have been “trained” to appreciate certain foods. If we are to reduce our impact on the environment we need to embrace different sources for our food supplies.

I enjoy a plate of varied mushrooms more than a piece of steak, with all the flavours combining to make a very delightful meal. But I don’t expect it to taste like steak. I do not like too close copying of non meat/dairy products to appear as meat/dairy in appearance but not in taste or texture, if however the taste and texture are similar I do not have as much or any issue. ALDI do a similar branding of many of their products in all the sections of their stores and I hear very few cries of dismay at their close branding by the consuming/using consumers as the products are often very similar and can be identical, of course industry involved/affected often do however raise objections.

Is the hue and cry about the branding based on fear of loss of profit/sales or is it based on actual comparison that has found the substitute/alternative to be significantly inferior. I think it is a mix of both with some product probably of reasonable “similarity” and thus a threat to money and some probably of distinctly inferior resemblance.


That is very true. Most of us call bubbly wines ‘Champagne’ even though it’s not legally allowed to be called that. If it says ‘Vegan Cheese’ or ‘Meat Substitute’ I’m sure everyone can understand that


I would try some only after carefully considering the ingredients. Many naturopaths actually believe soy is quite harmful to us. It can disrupt our hormone levels and many modern soy products use genetically modified soy which is a real no for me. I believe humans need some meat and though I often eat a non meat meal I also eat meat several times a week.

This is what Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health says…


I see no reason why you should try to present one form of food as if it is another. It is sometimes done as whimsy by chefs (you can serve your sausages and gravy in a chamber pot if you like) but that is a bit silly for everyday use. I don’t need my non-meats to look like meat to eat them. If you have dealt with the ethical and practical issues of altering your diet you shouldn’t need to fake anything but embrace your choice.

I quite enjoy pulses, mushrooms and grains but the tofu and soy products I have tried leave me cold. Perhaps I have not had the benefit of a good vegetarian chef but soy products are too often bland in flavour and rubbery in texture. I am not a person who could enjoy sponge rubber if the sauce was really good. This is unlike my daughters who would eat cardboard if it had bernaise sauce on it.

It is common in my heritage (and that of many others) to use meat as the main feature of a meal and to relegate non-meat to an accompaniment, filler or flavouring agent. Just look at Monsterchef and count up the cases where the meat has been ‘heroed’.$$$ However it is well worth learning how to get the best out of every ingredient and how and when to feature it.

My present diet is quite high in fruit and vegetables and sometimes I eat no meat in a day by featuring cheese or eggs but I always go back to meat. If a good bit of steak ever becomes impossibly expensive I will deal with the loss but I won’t enjoy it.

$$$ Unless the pointless verbing of nouns makes you nauseous.