WGOG: The need to imitate meat in vegetarian food

Imitating meat suggests that meat is the standard for quality food — it’s not

Paneer and peppers are grilled on a skewer. Either they look exceptionally tasty, or I’m exceptionally hungry.
Meat can only taste like meat, but vegetarian foods have so much more room for variety. PHOTO: Abhishek / Pexels

By: Tamanna T., Staff Writer

It is ridiculous for vegetarian food to imitate meat. For the first 19 years of my life, I followed a strictly vegetarian diet, with a protein intake coming from curries, stews, stir fries, and dried fruits. It’s a pretty good diet, if I do say so myself. However, I am thoroughly perplexed at the constant need to imitate the taste and texture of meat in vegan and vegetarian food.

Impossible, Beyond-meat burgers, and fake chicken nuggets suggest that meat is a fundamental ingredient, which is not true. Rather than encouraging a vegetable-based lifestyle, these substitutes are counterproductive to their cause.

Instead of looking into how to make your food taste more meat-like, perhaps consider expanding your palate. Consider, for example, my beloved paneer. Not only is paneer a good source of protein, but I have never craved the taste of meat when eating paneer. Its culinary versatility makes me believe that most people who try it will enjoy it — maybe even over, dare I say, chicken. The dishes made from this one vegetarian ingredient are both endless and extremely delicious. And this is to say nothing of the myriad uses of lentils — when simmered with spices and vegetables, they make a curry with an incredible depth of flavour.

Trying different cuisines that specialize in vegetarian/vegan food (cough Indian cuisine cough) will help in not only learning new meat-free recipes, but will also help develop a more delicious and healthy food pattern. Once you follow the vegetarian diet for a while, you start to realize that meat isn’t all it’s cut out to be.