/ Food & Drink

Will you be going meat-free for Vegetarian Week?

This week is National Vegetarian Week and people across the country are being encouraged to try new veggie recipes, cut back on meat and choose more meat-free alternatives. Will you be joining in?

In the UK, meat alternatives (such as soy-protein burgers and sausages) are more popular than ever. This growing market is valued at between £250m and £300m annually, and the meat industry is starting to see it eat into their profits.

In France, this shift to plant-based alternatives has led to new legislation that bans products based on non-animal ingredients from being given ‘meat names’. This means that names like ‘burger’, ‘sausage’ and ‘bacon’ will not be allowed on vegetarian products.

Ode to a veggie sausage

I’ve been a vegetarian for just over a year, and while I cook most of my meals from scratch, sometimes I am in the mood for a low-effort, quick and comforting meal – at those moments I turn to a trusty veggie sausage.

I’ve tried them all, Quorn, Linda McCartney, Good Life and Cauldron. My favourites are the Linda McCartney Red Onion and Rosemary Sausages – pop them in a sarnie with brown sauce, or with paired with mash and onion gravy – what’s not to love?

But if you’ve ever eaten a vegetarian sausage, you’ll know that taking the word ‘sausage’ off the packet won’t be the only giveaway that it’s not meat. While the meat-free alternatives are a good source of protein and satisfy a craving, the taste and texture just isn’t the same as a real pork sausage.

Pointless legislation?

In my opinion, renaming vegetarian products won’t reduce the demand for these types of foods. They will remain a convenient option for vegetarians, vegans and for those just trying to reduce their meat intake. For whatever reason, be it ethical, environmental or health reasons, people are choosing to make meat-free alternatives a regular part of their diet, and a bit of legislation isn’t going to stop that.

Perhaps the meat industry would be better off focusing on the reasons people are choosing not to eat their products, instead of trying to suppress the meat alternatives market.

What do you think of the ban? Would taking meat names of vegetarian products make you less likely to buy them? Will you be reducing your meat intake for National Vegetarian Week?

Do you eat vegetarian products such as veggie sausages or veggie burgers?

Yes – but I also eat meat (36%, 401 Votes)

No – never tried them (27%, 301 Votes)

No – they taste like cardboard (20%, 218 Votes)

Yes – and I'm vegetarian (17%, 182 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,102

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Comments
Guest
Jon says:
14 May 2018

Think some of the people who have not tried vegetarian alternatives should give them a go the variety available is very good. Those who think it tastes like cardboard may have tried them years ago. I am not a vegetarian/vegan by choice but it was suggested to me (by a doctor) to totally change my diet. I have removed dairy products, meat and sugar. I feel a lot healthier, more energy and have lost weight.

Guest

I do think it is odd to have vegetarian foods called things like bacon flavour rashers, veggie chicken pieces, fish style fingers or pepperoni style slices. Why would a vegetarian want to eat meat style foods?

But I don’t see the problem with burgers and sausages as I think of them as a shape not a meat product.

I am not a vegetarian but often eat veggie burgers and sausages. What else would you call them..patties? flatties? tubes?

Guest

I presume that the aim of marketing meat-style foods is to appeal to meat eaters, because there are more of them than vegetarians. I don’t know if the names put vegetarians off buying the products but vegetarians are often very well informed about what is in food.

Guest

Hi Alfa, before I went veggie I also thought it was strange that vegetarians would choose to eat meat style foods, but there are so many reasons why people choose not to eat meat. For me the main reason was to reduce my impact on the environment, so having food that mimics the flavour and texture of meat was a great way to ease myself into a more plant-based diet, and made it easier than going cold-turkey – if you’ll pardon the pun!

Guest
Dan Jennings says:
23 June 2018

I’m not vegetarian but I prefer to avoid processed meat products; sausages, burgers etc. That said I enjoy the taste and texture of them so the veggie options are a happy compromise.

Using meat-free alternatives is useful when feeding groups with differing dietary requirements. It makes the event more inclusive and means everyone enjoys the same meal.

Guest

I am not a vegetarian but probably eat less meat than most people. I go for meat that looks like meat, on the basis that goodness knows what goes into sausages, burgers and ready meals. It’s instructive to learn what can be classified as meat for inclusion in sausages. 🙁

I could live without meat, but it would be harder to forgo cheese.

Guest

“Perhaps the meat industry would be better off focusing on the reasons people are choosing not to eat their products, instead of trying to suppress the meat alternatives market.“. It would be useful to have evidence that this is the case. A non-meat product should stand on its own feet (well, roots perhaps) rather than adopt a meat name.

Will you be reducing your meat intake for National Vegetarian Week?” Not deliberately. We have always eaten a mixed diet and seem to have survived in reasonable shape. We have non-meat meals – egg and chips (a favourite), cheese and tomato on toast, cauliflower cheese, egg and cheese salad, jacket potatoes with cheese (I see a theme here). Meat and fish occupy the menu in both natural form and as sausage and bacon, but in sensible doses.

It seems to me a mix between vegetarian meals and others is an effective compromise.

Guest

Apart from chips, as I don’t have a deep fat fryer and dislike oven chips, we eat many of the same things.

As to people eating less meat, campylobacter has reduced chicken intake.

Fillet or rib-eye steaks have been our Saturday evening meal for years but with the new trend of small thin steaks, this could change. We cook them on a table-top grill so they need to be fat so they can brown on the outside but are still pink in the middle. We tried some at the weekend and they were not good, so if we can’t buy fat ones, we will do without.

Sainsbury’s 30-day matured steaks have been excellent, but not any more. We looked in Waitrose and M&S, but they were all thin. Making them thin makes them appear larger than they really are in the oversized packaging. Selling various sizes to suit all tastes would be much better than making them all small.

Another reason is price. Not that long ago, our steaks were around £28 per kilo, then they jumped to £35, and now £50 per kilo.

Guest

We have had a deep fat fryer for years but its use was banned – never been used. The only way to make decent chips. We get by with fresh and frozen oven chips but they don’t have quite the same appeal.

Our M&S has a variety of steaks, including thicker sirloin which we prefer. Smear lightly with oil both sides and cook in a hot pan for around 4 minutes. More reliable than rump steak; we bought some thick ones in their meal deal but they were chewy as anything. Not their norm so I complained and a refund is on its way.

My youngest son went on a steak cooking course (a birthday present) and one thing he learned was when steak has a band of fat on an edge, stand it on the edge to properly cook the fat before cooking the meat normally.

Guest

Have you tried a marbled rib-eye malcolm? We find them much more succulent than sirloin that often has grisly bits in it.

Guest

A good butcher can help there, Alfa. A friend turned up with a couple recently and they were very good.

I guess we would be discussing vegetarian options if we had a Convo about where we buy meat from. 🙂

Guest

Perhaps the meat industry would be better off focusing on the reasons people are choosing not to eat their products

Meat is discussed in the intro, so not off-topic.

I don’t know why, but our butcher is good for everything except steak. When they cut it specially for you, you do feel slightly obliged to buy it and the few times we have bought from them have been disappointed.

Guest

I know what you mean, Alfa. It’s easier to say ‘I’ll have that one, please”. With steak I tend to eat out rather than cook it at home, simply because it’s something that is often done reasonably well, if you know where to go.

I am having stuffed peppers this evening, courtesy of a friend.

Guest

Tonight it will be sausages from our butcher, veggie burger and coleslaw. We often have a veggie burger instead of potato.

We no longer eat steak out as ours are much better if we can get the right meat.

Guest

alfa, yes. the fat adds flavour. Once upon a time when you bought a beef joint it had a decent amount of fat on it and not only did it add flavour but it also produced dripping (and jelly) to put on your breakfast toast, with a sprinkling of salt.

Guest

My stuffed peppers were full of meat. 🙂 I suppose we could postpone Vegetarian Week until next week.

Guest

If we are talking about meat I have found on moving from a large city to the country that the quality of meat is far superior here than any city butcher as its local meat not shipped in from many places to a meat market and then distributed to butchers in the city but from a known slaughter house that supplies local farmers produce. How do I know about the meat market including the slaughter house ? I used to repair their phones and I could not look at the actual slaughter and dissemination of the animals bodies as there was no shortage of blood and gore—and the smell – yuuuuuuuuk ! think sewage –then worse. The animal knew they were going to die.

Guest

Not if you are buying Linda McCartney products that my wife religiously bought for Years and then it was sold to the USA ( where else ) Hain Celestial Group . Products now contain MILK /CREAM which as you know comes from permanently pregnant COWS ,–they wouldn’t be ANIMALS would they ?? Not as far as the Hain Group is concerned must look out for a “Vegetarian cow ” in the many farms near me , does it have weeds growing out of it ? In any case my wife was forced to stop taking the products due to severe allergic reaction to milk , she also said the quality had dropped and “dropped ” as well by a well known UK health chain due to not conforming to their standards and yes ! I got all the info from them as the store said they dont stock it anymore but wouldn’t say why so I phoned their headquarters to find out why. LInda must be rising in her grave in anger.

Guest

I haven’t had veggie sausages in ages, but I’m actually sort of craving them after reading this.

Guest
Annie Leymarie says:
15 May 2018

I have been vegan for more than 30 years and became an activist (with an emphasis on the environment and human health) when I learnt how much our diet contributes to climate change – as well as other environmental crises. But I do not eat ‘fake’ meat products, other than extremely rarely when I have no choice. I believe most people lose the taste for meat quite quickly – in fact it becomes quite abhorrent (comparable to the ‘appeal’ of human flesh in our current culture, where cannibalism is taboo – but it wasn’t in quite a number of cultures or, if you want, comparable to the other carcinogen – tobacco). Once one feels all the benefits of a whole food plant based diet the appeal of junk food, including vegan sausages and the like, just disappear in my experience. The main attraction was social acceptance, but with the increasing choice of healthy food and the widespread evidence-based knowledge that a whole food plant based diet is much better for the environment and for our health (let alone for the trillions of animals tortured and killed each year to feed us) I feel very comfortable asserting my choices as a vegan.

Guest

I agree Annie, I don’t find meat appealing anymore and although I used to love steak I can’t imagine eating it anymore. The environmental impact is one of the big reasons I stopped eating meat – I read the other day that giving up red meat will reduce your carbon footprint more than giving up your car!

Guest

Annie , well you know you are disputably right and thats straight from Evolution . Our gut is basically made for eating vegetable matter unlike lions and tigers and thats a FACT . For those disagreeing against inherited DNA over millions of years then click on Scientific American which puts it simply in American “speech ” https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/human-ancestors-were-nearly-all-vegetarians/

Guest

Just another view. I profess no expertise but I seem to be an omnivore.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/12/23/how-humans-evolved-to-be-natural-omnivores/#539cac347af5

Humans are definitely omnivores.

The best evidence is our teeth: we have biting/tearing/ripping incisors and canines (like carnivores) and chewing molars (like herbivores). Animals with such diverse teeth tend to be omnivores.

Chemically, we lack cellulases or cellulosic symbionts that many herbivores have, and have lots of proteases that carnivores do. But we do have sucrases that let us digest fruits. Humans require vitamin B12 to thrive, which can only come from animal sources or certain bacteria (vegans must supplement their diet). We also require vitamin C, which is present in citrus fruits and organ meat, the latter probably being our evolutionary ancestor’s main source.

Guest

I’m not quite sure that we need to look back at the past. We have a good idea of human dietary needs and how these can be supplied by quite different diets. Eating a vegan diet is the greatest challenge because of the need to ensure an adequate intake of certain vitamins. On the other hand, those who eat a lot of red meat and processed meat have an enhanced risk of bowel cancer and need to ensure sufficient fibre in their diet to avoid bowel problems.

In a recent Convo, Malcolm pointed out how inefficient it is to produce meat compared with consuming cereals etc. Some, such as Annie (above), avoid meat for ethical reasons. If we were all vegetarians and someone suggested using animals for food most of us would be appalled. Learning how chickens are treated is one of the reasons I don’t buy poultry. I don’t buy veal either.

Having been disappointed in the past, I would not choose a vegetarian option when eating out unless I was with with someone who recommended it.

Guest

Inspired by this Convo I have some Quorn pieces waiting to be turned into some sort of a meal. Any suggestions?

Guest

I would recommend adding them to a stir-fry with noodles and lots of fresh veggies. I like making a sauce with soy, mirin, ginger, chilli and garlic. Super quick and tasty!

Guest

Thanks Poppy. I’ll give that a go. I’ll need to buy some chilli and I’ve never used mirin in my life.

Guest

Hope you enjoy! Clearspring is my favourite brand for buying mirin and other Japanese ingredients – it’s organic and very good quality.

Guest

Thanks again. I will have to see what is available locally. The Quorn is frozen so there is no urgency.

Guest

I found out 2 weeks ago one of the side effects of not eating meat . My wife was pronounced by her GP as having Pernicious Anemia , they wanted to put her into a hospital for a blood transfusion and injections but she doesn’t like hospitals nor injections ( well neither do I like injections ) so she was given a course of Iron tablets + B12 tablets ( hospital strength ) to take . On the instructions I read that one of the causes could be a life as a vegan , yes that was printed on it , I myself having suffered from malnutrition because i was not fed and fainted at primary school and had to be given strong iron medicine which in later life left an impression on me . I am a meat eater because eating meat gives me strength I feel better , if I dont eat meat I feel weak , eating my wife,s Quorn does nothing for me like eating a Chinese and 10 minutes after feeling hungry . Its one thing massively promoting a food product because its the “in thing ” but another that people could died or become seriously ill by believing the adverts . We are all different biologically whats good for one person can be life threatening for another. May I say while living in Yorkshire they know how to put a good dinner on the table.

Guest

I understand that pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune disease and not simply a matter of consumption of insufficient vitamin B12.

Guest

The GP said she should go into hospital and get B12 injections as well as a blood drip Wavechange it was that serious and coming out of hospital get regular injections of B12 . While cases could be caused by autoimmune disease that is not the case of my wife who has a 50+ history of bad kidney function and now has only 20 % kidney function (as tested by the clinic ) . The doctor went into detail as to why kidney failure can affect the processing of the blood and definitely said after blood tests (twice ) that B12 was a “must ” . She mentioned in cases like that ingesting B12 by tablets did not have the same effect as a direct hypodermic injection but she found a strong hospital version.

Guest

OK, but would this have have happened even if your wife was eating meat?

Guest

Good question Wavechange ,what I can say is that by not eating meat , given her poor kidney function the condition was exacerbated .

Guest

That seems reasonable. Where the red cell count is low, a transfusion may be given.

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
23 June 2018

The article/survey is about products and we often eat meat free meals but the idea of buying a “product” seems wrong. There are enough dairy products, eggs and vegetables to have excellent meals without trying to emulate a shape.

As for the French legislation and ” What do you think of the ban? ” seems to me be a bit rich given it is a different language with food nuances and a tradition unknown in English.

However it is interesting as if we are to have Conversations about other countries and their consumer legislation can we have an article on the Dutch consumer body winning legislation for mandatory retentions when buying a new house – to ensure it is properly finished.

A useful subject I think.