I have mentioned in a previous blog about my poor short term planning skills, specifically in relation to food. Food is simply not a big area of interest for me. I only think about food when I am hungry, bored, or procrastinating, and all of those states are quite immediate. I just don’t possess the forethought to anticipate eating requirements in advance.
I have also never been any good at doing the whole balanced diet thing. Therefore, if I am going to make not-eating-meat a serious part of my life, realistically I am going to have to rely on someone else to do the legwork to make sure I don’t end out a) massively overweight due to reliance on simple carbs and b) utterly deficient in vital nutrients.
To this end, I have been trying loads of meat-free products which I have never eaten before, just to see what works and what doesn’t. Another really important qualifier is that they need to be easily available, so everything I have tried has been on regular sale in Tesco.
Meat-substitutes have always gotten a lot of stick for being frankly awful, and while I would agree that some of them are indeed grim, in the process of investigation I have found a few I really like, and so I wanted to stick up for them. Which I have, plus said unpleasant things about the stuff that mings. For good measure, I’ve also thrown in a couple of my pre-existing favourites that just so happen to be vegetarian.
These are all foods that I would be genuinely happy to consume in their own right, irrespective of the fact that they are meat-free.
- Beer It goes without saying that I am absolutely delighted to announce that my favourite thing in the whole world is actually both vegetarian and vegan. Oh the joy!
- Alpro Dark Chocolate Almond Milk (vegan) Oh god yes. This is just like chocolate milk, although personally I think it tastes way nicer, and doesn’t leave that sticky coating in your mouth when you drink it. Let’s be honest, the last thing you want is a sticky coating in your mouth.
- Alpro Devilishly Dark Chocolate Dessert (vegan) Not as firm as chocolate mousse, but rich, gooey and thoroughly tasty. I bought four packs less than an hour ago because I noticed they were on sale; I can’t promise they will still be there in a few days. Nom nom nom.
- Quorn Picnic Eggs These are properly nice. The consistency of the ‘sausage meat’ is pretty much spot on, and the balance of taste with the egg is really authentic too.
- Quorn Cheese & Broccoli Escalopes Very convincing; if I’d been given these without knowing what they were, I wouldn’t have guessed that they weren’t chicken. This is the only hot Quorn product I have tried that isn’t horrible. Plus, broccoli, hurray!
- Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages These have a great texture and tasted really nice; they reminded me of the fancy-pants sausages you get from the ‘Finest’ section of a supermarket which is trying ever so hard to convince you that it really DOES cater to middle class shoppers.
- Tesco Soy Burgers Not going to lie, these are very good. Again, great texture and nice taste.
- Quorn Sausage Roll Much like the Picnic eggs, they have hit the nail on the head with these. The ‘sausage meat’ has that same great consistency, and also has the same herby flavour as you get in normal sausage rolls. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
- Broccoli This is kind of a cheat, because I have always loved broccoli and so it’s not something new. I have however discovered how quick and easy it is to cook chilli, garlic and soy sauce broccoli, and that has made my life a better place, so it totally qualifies.
While I am talking about my discoveries, here’s a few on the less enthusiastic end of the spectrum that are worth mentioning. On The Sliding Scale of Fail from ‘insta-barf’ to ‘not great’, here are the products that I really wish I hadn’t spent money on.
- Quorn Sausages Oh my fucking god NO. These are truly, truly awful. I am not exaggerating when I say that I am not sure I could eat another one of these, regardless of how hungry I was. The taste and texture are way off. They are hellish tubes of Wrong. I really can’t stress enough that you should stay well away from these.
- Quorn Bacon Slices Smelled like smoky bacon crisps with a cheesy twang, and looked like worn shoe insoles. Whilst they were hot they were palatable, but got weird as they cooled down. I definitely wouldn’t recommend them, but they didn’t make me feel queasy like the sausages. Oh my GOD, the sausages…
- Quorn Steak Strips Bleurgh. Vaguely savoury compressed marshmallows. I drowned them in soy sauce, and they passed as edible largely because I love soy sauce way more than is normal or healthy.
- Quorn Chicken Pieces There is no way you could ever pretend this was actual chicken. The texture is better than the steak strips, and to their credit the pieces pick up flavour well, although they totally miss the lightness of chicken. So far I have tried them in fajitas, Thai green curry sauce and pad Thai noodles and they took up space where the meat would normally be, while substituting in protein. That’s the nicest thing I can say about them.
This isn’t definitive, I have more stuff in the freezer to try, so expect some revisions in the future. In the meantime though, I can recommend giving some of these things a go and see what you think.
Except the Quorn sausages… oh god, the sausages…