The topic of meat replacements
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A while ago, I had a conversation with someone, who has a problem with vegan sausages made out of soy. Black bean burgers are okay, however. That statement stuck with me. Why does it make a difference, what type of meat a vegan/vegetarian wants to replace and what it is made of? Okay, some ingredients might be healthier and some might be better for the environment. But why is the soy milk less of a problem than sausages made of soy. I never got criticised for drinking a coffee made with soy milk, when I was in a café, but most people look down upon meat replacements made out of soy.
Is the meat the issue?
Maybe people don’t like the fact that vegetarians/vegans try to replace meat. I often hear, that when we decide not to eat meat, we shouldn’t eat meat replacements like sausages, burgers and so on, too. That simply wouldn’t make sense. Either stand to your point or not. And those replacements are soooooo unhealthy, too. Okaaay, that’s something I have to listen to quite often, even though I barely ever eat vegan burgers and I absolutely dislike vegan sausages (I just haven’t found any good ones yet). Then I try to explain, that some vegans are vegans, because they cannot stomach the thought of eating an animal and that they cannot distinguish between a pig and a dog. Not everyone wants to eat healthily. And that should be accepted. And anyway, a normal burger with real meat isn’t the healthiest thing on the planet either. As long as I don’t try to convince you, to stop eating your meat, you have absolutely no right to stop me from eating my vegan replacement. At least that’s my opinion on this topic.
As long as I don’t try to convince you, to stop eating your meat, you have absolutely no right to stop me from eating my vegan replacement.
Of course, I know that there are THOSE kinds of vegans. Those annoying vegans, who cannot stop talking about how bad of a person you are, because you are eating meat. Believe me, they make me even angrier than you, because that’s – in my opinion – not activism, at least not constructive one. I cannot imagine, anyone would change their behaviour when someone tells them how horrible of a person they are. But okay, that’s a topic for another day.
It’s the form that matters.
I asked the person, what troubles her most about vegan sausages, and she told me, that it’s the form. Hä, okay, yeah, I mean I get the point, that previously the only thing that looked like a tube and could be eaten, where sausages made out of meat. Maybe that’s the reasons why burgers aren’t that much of a deal to this person, because there are other things that have the same shape as burgers.
Why is it even necessary?
This person also mentioned that he/she does not understand the necessity of eating meat replacements once you have decided to be vegetarian or vegan. Why can you not live without it? Why do you have to fabricate something that looks similar and tastes similar, even though you are AGAINST that actual product? I totally understand where this person is coming from. But – as previously mentioned – someone can be vegan for the animals, but still misses the taste of meat, which is often a reason I hear, why people think they cannot stop eating meat. In addition to that, meat is a big part of our (eating) culture. Most people grew up eating meat. On certain days, eating meat can be a tradition (like on Eastern or Christmas). Your favourite food growing up might have been schnitzel. Who knows? Or certain memories are connected to certain animal-based food (I connect the town I was born in with a special kind of sausages for example). Why should it be wrong, to sometimes enjoy the reminiscence of that and eat something that’s similar to what you grew up with? Another reason, and that’s the biggest one for me personally, is the social factor. When I’m at a restaurant and everyone is eating a burger, I simply want to eat a burger as well. I don’t want to explain anything, I simply want to enjoy a great time. A restaurant, who has a vegan burger on the menu, helps me to keep the focus off the things I eat. And yes, even though I’m vegan, I actually don’t enjoy pointing it out to everyone, constantly. It can be quite tiring to hear the same arguments again and again when all I want it to eat my food and have a good time. Some people, like my colleagues at work, don’t even know that I’m a vegan. Some have noticed, that I never brought any meat to work and that I keep eating vegetarian meals, but that’s it. No need to discuss it, since I’m there to do my job as a soon-to-be engineer.
And what’s about milk?
A few days ago, when I went home from the gym, a thought struck me as odd. Why is it such a bad thing to replace meat, but not to replace milk? Why is drinking plant-based milk so socially excepted? Isn’t that basically the same thing as a vegan burger/sausage/…? This whole discussion might come down to the fact, that everything is just a construction of habit and what we are used to. Vegans and non-vegans alike enjoy plant-based milk options. It’s just normal. They do that for different reasons, some might have an intolerance against milk/lactose, some don’t want to drink something that comes from an animal, some do it for health. Whatever it is, so many people do it and nobody has to justify his or her decision to do it.
This whole discussion might come down to the fact, that everything is just a construction of habit and what we are used to.
In the end, I just wish, plant-based meats will find the same acceptance as plant-based milks one day. That might be hard to believe, but I – as a vegan – just want to eat in peace, too, and enjoy my delicious meal. In my case, that’s 90% of the time, something based on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes. But sometimes, I enjoy a vegan burger, too. And all I want is to enjoy it. Because my burger does not hurt anyone. It’s not worse for the environment than a burger made of meat. And I cannot imagine, that you can honestly tell me, that a burger made out of meat is healthy, just as I would not consider my vegan burger healthy.
What are your thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear them!