The world of food has changed dramatically in the last hundred years. A century ago there was a lot less convenience or processed food available. Our grandmothers or in some cases, great grandmothers used to make most of their food from scratch. Walk down the aisles of a supermarket today and the vast majority of the food products for sale are commercially processed foods. One could easily get the impression that no one creates meals using just raw ingredients anymore!
Furthermore, our great-grandparents probably didn’t know anyone who refrained from eating meat, let alone would only partake of a plant based diet. Yet today the amount of people turning their lives around and becoming vegetarian or vegan is astounding, 2.2% of the population in the U.S. are apparently vegetarian. The products available to them are also really something to behold. You can buy so many meat imitation foods, some of them just replacing meat and some trying to imitate meat both in flavour and texture.
It would be interesting to conduct a survey as to why vegetarians and vegans crave meat substitutes. We know they do, otherwise there would not be such a wide variety available, shops do not stock products that do not sell. It is also interesting to note that more and more non-vegetarians are eating these meat substitutes but why?
Meatless products are often deemed to be more healthy alternatives to meat and therefore non-vegetarians, who are looking for a healthy alternative to their regular meat may grab them as a convenience food without any guilt.
As for vegans and vegetarians, they do not want to eat meat for a number of reasons. The main one being that they do not believe that animals should be killed or suffer so that we can enjoy their meat. Some of them are even disgusted by the smell of cooking meat. On the other hand, many of them will concede that cooked meat is delicious! Many people who were not born vegetarian but turned vegetarian later in life in particular crave the taste of meat even if they do not agree in eating the real thing.
Companies like Teva Deli based in Israel, have a mission to produce products that taste and mimic meat but are meatless. They experiment in their labs to create exactly the right texture and taste so that they are as close as possible to the real thing. They can get quite creative with the ingredients they use which can include: tofu, seitan, wheat gluten, quinoa to name a few. At the same time they make sure that the products are nutritionally sound to satisfy those vegetarians and non-vegetarians who turn to their foods for health reasons.
When they have finished creating their masterpieces they are able to satisfy carnivores and non-carnivores craving the taste and texture of meat without them having to actually eat meat itself.