Gransnet forums


Need advice about commercially produced veggie meat.

(78 Posts)
vampirequeen Sat 06-Feb-21 14:23:27

We're trying to cut down on the amount of meat we eat but we miss the taste/texture of meat so we've been buying commercially produced veggie pretend meat. Some has been really nice i.e. the texture and taste made us feel like it was meat and some have been awful. We're not going veggie for the animals but for the environment and ourselves. Let me be up front....real bacon is never going off the menu.

But then we got to thinking are we doing the right thing or have we been swept up onto a gimmicky/more expensive bandwagon.

I have two questions that I can't seem to find out the answer to and I know the GN hive mind will be sure to be able to help.

Is it healthier to eat commercially produced veggie pretend meat rather than real meat?

Does eating commercially produced veggie pretend meat help the environment or does the act of it being made commercially leave a big carbon footprint?

GagaJo Sat 06-Feb-21 14:26:32

Quorn is very healthy. Low fat & full of fibre.

3dognight Sat 06-Feb-21 14:38:45

Vampire queen Google textured vegetable protein or TVP.

There are pro's and con's with TVP as with many foods.

Redhead56 Sat 06-Feb-21 14:40:17

I was with a vegetarian years ago 1970s. So meat substitutes hardly existed I had to be inventive. I still don't eat a lot of meat now. Quorn products are very good I agree so are Linda McCartney products from the freezer. I use alot of lentil and beans too as meat alternatives. It's also a good idea to bulk out meals with roasted veg for extra flavour. If you will still eat meat game such as venison and turkey are a healthier choice.

vampirequeen Sat 06-Feb-21 15:00:26

Bacon is king grin

I've tried just veggie recipes but there always seems to be something lacking. We don't eat meat every meal but tbh it's most meals. If I don't cook with meat I tend to cook with cheese which doesn't help the waistline [grin}

I want to eat meat without eating meat grin

vampirequeen Sat 06-Feb-21 15:04:52

I'm googling TVP. It's very interesting and I'm finding lots of links to other sites.

NellG Sat 06-Feb-21 15:12:33

I just found this, I'll pull up the full link in a mo.

"But it’s not the magic bullet. Marco Springmann, a senior researcher with the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, published a paper last year in the journal Nature describing how the global diet needs to change to preserve the environment. He’s skeptical of how effective these factory-produced meat alternatives will be in changing the food system.

“Those companies make wild claims, but they don’t back that up with any independent attestment,” Springmann said. “Their claims are based on third-party potential estimates of emissions.”

Even if meat alternative companies back their products up with more studies, they don’t offer the best emissions solution. Cellular-based meat alternatives release five times the emissions as chicken, putting their emissions just under beef. Plant-based meat alternatives produce the same amount of emissions as chicken — which are about five times the emissions of legumes and vegetables.

Springmann recommends a flexitarian diet heavy on vegetables and legumes with a heavily reduced portion of meat. This amount of meat would equal one 100-gram burger (or 3.5 ounce) per week or choosing to consume chicken or fish just twice a week.

This heavy reduction in meat consumption presents a steep learning curve for much of the global population. But it’s not infeasible. “It’s about perspective and spices,” Springmann said."

NellG Sat 06-Feb-21 15:14:06

vampirequeen Sat 06-Feb-21 15:38:40

Oh dear looks like we can't have our cake and eat it.

Maybe it's psychological. We just don't feel as if we've had a 'proper' meal if there is no meat in it.

Hetty58 Sat 06-Feb-21 15:45:22

vampirequeen, it's impossible to answer, as it all depends on which type you are talking about. It does seem odd to me, going veggie, yet wanting 'pretend' meat. Producing any meat, though, involves vast amounts of land for grazing and/or cereal production.

My friend recommends 'Thisisnotbacon', Gro 'sausages' from the Co-op and mushroom 'steaks' from Iceland, for taste.

I've been veggie for most of my life, and although I liked the smell of bacon cooking, the thought of actually eating pig put me off.

For the past decade, I've been vegan. Consuming dairy (with it's 'allowable pus content') became just too difficult because of the cruelty involved.

These days, I get through a lot of tinned lentils, chickpeas and beans for 'heartiness' with meals - and protein and iron content. Saturated fats are scarce with a meat-free diet, so there are obvious health benefits.

It's much easier now, with ingredients available everywhere and tasty recipes online.

NotTooOld Sat 06-Feb-21 15:46:22

You have to get used to it. I've been veggie for 40 years and never found it a struggle as I was never that keen on meat. Persevere, if you can. Buy a good veggie cookbook, there are loads on offer, and see what you can make without meat. Eating veggie is a lot cheaper than buying meat, too!

keepingquiet Sat 06-Feb-21 15:49:38

It is an interesting question. During lockdown I have completely reduced my consumption of processed food. I now buy only fresh meat, fish and vegetables. I eat meat 4 days out of 7. You don't mention fish, but I think it would be a healthier alternative to meat although a lot fish is equally processed.
I was told to watch the food labelling. If it contains more than five ingredients it isn't healthy and is heavily processed. Lots of prepared veggie dishes are in this category.
A vegetarian I know has been told not to eat any more cheese for health reasons. A lot of veggie dishes are heavy on cheese and beans.
No you can't have your cake and eat it, but you can make lots of small changes over time and eventually bigger changes are made.

midgey Sat 06-Feb-21 15:52:45

Less meat but buy good quality meat from local sources.

GillT57 Sat 06-Feb-21 15:56:09

It all depends upon what you expect with a meal. If you eat meat and two veg, then it is difficult to replicate without going into the 'fake meat' market, but if you eat curries, pasta dishes, chilli etc., then it is far easier. Mushroom risotto, chilli made with quorn mince and tinned beans, spaghetti bolognaise made with quorn mince are all good, and there are some very good veg protein meatballs in supermarket freezers. I have never been particularily carnivorous, even as a child, and would never choose roast beef/lamb/chops/steak etc., but I do miss roast chicken, and bacon sandwiches!

SueDonim Sat 06-Feb-21 16:07:17

Both of my DILs are vegetarian. Neither eats meat substitutes. They’ve both been veggie for decades, before these meat substitutes were available, so are used to a diet without them, plus neither likes to eat heavily processed foods.

We’re not vegetarian but now eat a diet much reduced in meat. I once tried Linda Macartney sausages and then spent the night in the bathroom. 😳 Never again. I can’t eat soya, either, so that rules out options. I just find tasty vegetarian recipes and we eat those on our ‘veggie’ days.

Hetty58 Sat 06-Feb-21 16:15:23

I'm making a sort of 'Shepherd's pie' today, with onion, carrot, green lentils, celery, aubergine,tomato paste, Marigold veggie bouillon and black pepper. Topped with mash and oil - then crisped up under the grill. I'm sure you wouldn't notice the lack of meat in it!

Keepingquiet, you can make a lovely vegan 'cheese sauce' with the liquid from a tin of chickpeas, carrot, mustard and yeast flakes - lots of different recipes online.

May7 Sat 06-Feb-21 16:29:10

Thank you for starting this thread veggie vampirequeen grinWe too have recently changed to a vegetarian diet and it does take some getting used to.

I actually can't believe my DH agreed to give it a go, but we did and as a result we have lost quite a lot of weight between us.

We have always eaten lots of meat and very few vegetables (as a result of being made to eat them as a child and then it becoming a battle of wills I think ) Anyway, we too have used fake meat as, like you, it feels strange not to.

Some of the products have been awful I agree but some of them are amazing eg Vivara Greek kebab and Linda McCartney Hoisin duck but we have found that we are now eating more nuts and pulses and bulking out meals.

I will follow this thread closely for ideas.

vampirequeen Sat 06-Feb-21 17:48:54

I was brought up as a meat and two vegger and tbh that still feels like a proper meal but I do produce things like spag bol and chicken korma.

I have to confess that not only do I hate cooking but I'm not that good at it. I can do the basics but I hate anything that needs messing with. I have no problems with something cooking for a long time as long I don't have to spend ages preparing it or watching it. So I'm a dab hand at stew and dumplings, casseroles and braising because I can literally chuck things into the dish, put it in the oven and magically a couple of hours later it's changed into a tasty whatever. Pasta, curries etc are made with the help of Mr Sharwood, Mr Patak, Signor Dolmio and my Uncle Ben.

I don't want to go totally veggie. I can't imagine life without bacon or braising steak. But I would like to do non meat on 3 or 4 days of the week.

To my shame (because I come from a fishing port), I hate fish. I don't dislike cod or haddock in batter but I don't like anything else apart from the occasional bit of tinned tuna drowned in mayonnaise.

I like the idea of Hetty58's shepherd's pie. I suppose you just throw in any veg you fancy.

Witzend Sat 06-Feb-21 17:56:54

My dd and family have gone largely veggie for a while now, for animal welfare reasons.

She likes Birds Eye Green Cuisine and swears that you can’t tell their sausages (veggie fingers) from the real thing. Gdcs apparently love them too.
We have yet to try them.

We do eat considerably less meat nowadays. I often bulk up a small amount of meat e.g. in a Bolognese sauce or shepherds pie, with red lentils and a lot of finely chopped veg. And a small amount of chicken goes a long way in e.g. a stir fry with loads of veg.

Witzend Sat 06-Feb-21 18:04:51

Twice recently I’ve made a curried ‘stewp’ (my brother’s term for a X between stew and soup) purely out of root veg/potatoes, with red lentils and a bit of rice added, and some cauliflower/spinach or both added just for the last few minutes.
Extremely tasty and warming, especially now.

SueDonim Sat 06-Feb-21 18:13:22

Vampirequeen have you looked at the Roasting Tin books? I have the Roasting Tin around the World one and I don’t think I’ve ever used a cook book as much as I do this one. There’s very little cooking involved, it’s mainly about assembling the ingredients and using a dressing or sauce. All my efforts have been much appreciated!

It might be my oven but I do find I don’t need the oven quite as hot nor roast for quite as long as suggested, so worth bearing that in mind.

M0nica Sat 06-Feb-21 18:54:48

I approach this problem from both ends; the meat end and the alternative end.

I now only buy PastureFor Life Meat . This is meat that is grazed on natural pasture that has not had any artificial fertiliser. The animals are fed on what they graze plus hay gathered from the pasture in summer.

It means that the environmental cost of the meat is much lower than any other meat because the animals are not fed bought-in feeds like soya or rape, the pasture is is unimproved (no extra fertilisers), no growth promoters and because the animals are healthier they need less therapeutic medication. That is the meat side of it.

Because the meat is really good quality meat, I can add a lot of vegetables and either lentils, beans etc to every casserole and stew so that when served on the plate, there is only about 2oz of meat in every portion, but the meat flavour is as strong and as good as ever.
As well as that we do eat a lot of meals without meat, always have done. My mother did not like meat very much although my father did, and I grew up eating meals where the protein came from cheese, eggs or fish and have never quite understood the belief that a meal isn't a meal without a large piece of meat on the plate.

I like the Linda McCartney sausages - and the pork ones from a local farm and I have always preferred beanburgers to hamburgers, but generally I steer away from factory produced vegan products, in the same way I avoid any other highly processed food.

V3ra Sat 06-Feb-21 19:00:42

We only eat meat a couple of times a week, and then it's only British chicken.
We like Quorn mince and sausages, plus Birds Eye Green Cuisine "meatballs" and burgers.
We're not keen on the texture of soya products.
I did relent and buy proper pigs in blankets for Christmas!

vampirequeen Sat 06-Feb-21 19:06:19

We've had the Green Cuisine burgers and enjoyed them. I've got pretend meat sausages and mince this week. I'll try the lentil shepherds pie.

Hetty58 Sat 06-Feb-21 19:13:28

The BOSH! cookbook is really useful for new ideas.