Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pre-Tofurky Day Musing

Seems odd to me that people who refuse to eat meat will eat fake meat. Is the hunger for flesh so great in us that many of those who eschew animal products for religious, ethical or moral reasons, people who won't wear leather or cosmetics that have been vetted though animal testing love meat so much that they will still eat it in facsimile form?

I don't recall eating vegan burgers, tofu hot dogs and turkey (Tofurky) during the approximatively 7 year period when I practiced vegetarianism. Neither do I recall yearning to eat meat. But who knows? That was a long time ago, perhaps I just don't remember.

Whatever, it's kind of strange to think that folks who try to reject a particular behavior of the dominant culture -in this case meat eating- still feel the need to participate, albeit symbolically.

Happy Thanksgiving People.

10 comments:

Scotty said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, Bob.

I don't get it either. I have a cousin who is a non-militant Vegan, but she is also a non-militant Vegan Chef in Regina, Saskatchewan. I have never heard of her eating anything like that. As for me, the only time I have ever been vegetarian was when I couldn't afford meat.

Now, with my Thanksgiving catering job done, I have to remember how to bone out poultry. My friend and catering partner has decided to do a Turducken, and I get the Duck and the Ken! Not since 82 . . .

Anonymous said...

I've been vegetarian for approx 20 years and never have wanted to try tofurky either (I wonder how popular it really is). There are always plenty of Thanksgiving side dishes to fill me up anyway! Fake meat doesn't interest me-- although I don't mind a veggie burger now and then. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! --Valerie

Tags said...

What is the vegetarian answer to turducken?

A Cacacar?

A carrot inside a cassava root inside a cabbage?

The Foodist said...

Happy Stuff-Yourself-Silly-Day!

Does seem odd that "I wont eat meat because its cruel...but that tofu shaped like the animal I refuse to eat looks awsome!"

or how about breakfast patties that TASTE like meat but are soy products?
come on just eat the damn bacon already! you know you loved it as a kid!

Sean said...

As a vegan for three years now, I still find myself attracted to the smell and appearance of some animal flesh, particularly bacon and lamb. I have found that this has as much to do with the assosciations I have with the food as with the meat itself. Bacon for me represents lazy Saturdays when my mother or father would cook breakfast for dinner and we would all sit down to a family meal of bacon and pancakes. Lamb is one of the few things that my mother was skilled at cooking and our dinners of roast leg of lamb, studded with garlic, still resonate powerfully in my mind.

It's this type of memory or cultural association that I think is behind thinks like Tofurkey. I doubt almost any vegetarian is hankering to emulate the dried up, tasteless meat that usually passes for Turkey on most Americans' plates. What they do want however is to feel normal. In the company of family and friends, most of whom probably don't understand one's ideology or its motivations, it is more comfortable to try and appropriate one's food to the occasion rather than stick out as a sore and problematic thumb like usual (at least in the eyes of others). Tofurkey is an attempt to bridge the gap between upholding one's ethical beliefs and feeling like a participant in an important cultural event.

As for me, I don't find Tofurkey that attractive and I usually find myself making things like stuffed squash, roasted vegetable soups (I'm hankering to try a seitan/roasted fall vegetable soup in a roasted pumpkin for this holiday season), and multitudes of different sides dishes. Thanksgiving never was and still isn't an important family holiday for us so I don't get hung up on the sorts of issues I outlined above. But I don't begrudge those who do and if Tofurkey, or the much better homemade alternatives, fills that niche, so be it.

JunkyPOS said...

^^^^

"the dried up, tasteless meat that usually passes for Turkey on most Americans' plates."

No disrespect sean....but smells and tastes like tofu to me. ;)

Some Americans can cook u know...

Gary said...

There is a long tradition of making vegetarian food look like meat among Chinese Buddhists -- which originally struck me as odd, since those Buddhists would probably never have developed a taste for meat anyway.

However, their religion does not proscribe the eating of meat -- they're just not supposed to be in any way responsible for the death of any animal. This loop hole allows merchants to sell "accidentally" broken eggs to observant Buddhists because they are guilt-free.

BTW, much of the faux meat produced by Chinese chefs are not only delicious -- they are amazingly realistic and surpassingly beautiful.

Bob del Grosso said...

Scotty
I think I do get it, but wasn't in the mood for probity.

Sean you wrote

"What they do want however is to feel normal. In the company of family and friends, most of whom probably don't understand one's ideology or its motivations, it is more comfortable to try and appropriate one's food to the occasion rather than stick out as a sore and problematic thumb like usual (at least in the eyes of others). Tofurkey is an attempt to bridge the gap between upholding one's ethical beliefs and feeling like a participant in an important cultural event."

I couldn't agree more, but probably could not have written it better than this. I don't know who you are but I really hope you aren't wasting too much time writing like this on the web for free.
Sorry if that sounds like pandering, it isn't, but I know it might sound like that way.

Anyway, it's pretty sad and ironic to imagine that someone who chooses to live outside the envelope of mainstream culture would also long to feel included there. But we know it's true.

Deborah Dowd said...

Hope you and yours had a great Thanksgiving. I am also mystified by this behavior, but perhaps because I have never been a vegetarian. I have respect for those who choose this lifestyle for whatever reason, but feel less disposed to those "selective" vegetarians who pick and choose depending on the situation whether they are vegetarian or not. Either have the strength of your conviction or stop being a poseur. I am a bit jaded by people who describe themselves as "mostly vegtarian"

Katie said...

I've been veggie for a few years, and I love fake meat products, including tofurkey. They're good for protein, usually have added iron and omega-3s, and add further variety to my diet. Also, since--like so many vegetarians--I went veggie for environmental reasons, I still enjoy the (fake) flavors and textures of bacon, sausage, ground meat. But by eating soy and TVP products instead of "real," I reduce my affect on the environment (and my cholesterol). And my plate looks like my family's at Thanksgiving--which is just as much for their benefit as mine, as no one worries that I'm "missing out"! And who doesn't mind laughing about tofurkey? The name has to be a joke, anyway!

Most veggies don't not eat meat because they dislike the flavor, but for other reasons. So why shouldn't they enjoy fake bacon?