“But aren’t all these new veggie burgers heavily processed? Isn’t it pretty miserable being vegan if companies have to make so many fake meat, egg, and dairy products? If you miss the taste of meat so much, why not just eat the real thing?”
The reasons veggie burgers exist in the first place is often quite misunderstood by the omnivore crowd. So, I’m here to clear some things up:
No, being vegan isn’t a life of bland, tasteless, misery
To the salt, sugar, and fat-trained palate, the sound of eating primarily whole, plant-based foods might sound like a nightmare. If someone chooses to eat plain tofu and celery until the end of days, then yeah, being that kind of vegan would be gross and unfulfilling.
But, vegans eat a variety of foods with a variety of textures and flavors. Those of us who ate omnivorously for a period of time often miss the salty taste of bacon, creamy texture of yogurt, and sweet fluffiness of buttercream frosting, so we recreate these experiences with cruelty-free ingredients. Being vegan only becomes a “sacrifice” if someone chooses to see it that way.
And, yes, sometimes the food vegans eat is heavily processed. Though, this isn’t different than the Standard American Diet. Gluten-free folks also have processed crackers, cakes, and cereals – everything in moderation, right? Have your vegan cupcake and eat it, too!
We don’t eat the “real thing” because we dislike where it comes from, not the taste
Never was there a more clear case of misunderstanding ethical veganism than someone asking why vegans don’t just choose a beef burger if they miss burgers so much. It’s not about the taste or the convenience – it’s about having seen behind he curtain and not enjoying the view.
This reaction is likely a way to simplify and minimize the reasons people become vegans. If you can dismiss someone by calling them illogical or crazy, their mission and motivations become moot.
Vegan alternatives to animal-based foods exist to bring people over to our side
Plain and simple. There may be some who can be swayed by seeing the devastating environmental impact of factory farming or some who toss out their cheese and sausages the moment they see footage of what goes on inside dairy farms and slaughter houses.
Then there are the hardcore meatheads, for lack of a better term, who would rather die than give up their grill aprons and steak sauce. Those are the people companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are trying to reach with their authentic, “bleeding”, raw-meat-imitating patties.
The folks who see no difference in choosing Hampton Creek’s Just Ranch off the shelf over a diary-based dressing probably value convenience and taste over long-term health and the welfare of veal calves – at least while their momentarily in the grocery store. This isn’t to say their priorities are wrong, but rather their priorities are based on what is most immediate in their lives. To get omnivores to start eating more ethically, companies have to advertise familiar foods.
If a vegan brings a pack of plant-based hot dogs to a cookout and the host remembers how tasty they were, sees them at the supermarket the next week, and buys them in lieu of the “real thing,” then I say mission: accomplished. A seed has been planted and all we can do is encourage it to grow.