And Never the Twain Shall Meat


This odd and ongoing trend for producers of vegan food to describe their products as ‘meat’ products seems, at base, a mere marketing ploy to convince meat eaters to have a try. People ask, ‘Why do people who hate meat name their food after meat?’ but it’s the manufacturers doing the naming, rarely the vegans. After all, why would proud vegans want to be seen to be eating meat substitutes when their own ‘world-conquering’ recipes and dietary constraints strictly prohibit the inclusion of actual meat? Many vegetarians and vegans embark on meat-free diets on ethical grounds, no? Also, most vegans grew up as non-vegans, so they’ve eaten meats before.

Vegans who came from eating meat tend to be honest enough to admit that there are things they, understandably, miss. Bacon butties, for example. Roast turkey at Christmas. Eating a congealed morning-after shish kebab off your naked girlfriend’s buttock cheeks, perhaps. It’s just that their desire to achieve some other goal (save the animals, get down with Saint Greta, cut out their unhealthy pork life etc) is sufficiently robust to give up their acknowledged enjoyments of eating meat.

Hey, it’s a free country. Bothersome proselytisers aside, best of British luck to them.

And who can harbour grudges against such marketing, or against the meat-selling producers of these vegan meats?

Capitalist success stories like Unilever, Heck and Kerry Group of Richmond sausages and Mattessons’ meat snacks fame (Mattessons’ Hot & Meaty Pork Meateors are rather moreish to peck on, so I am told, at a police speed awareness course or during a day’s fly-fishing) have been nourishing us omnivorous dinosaurs for years.  

So, the other day I was in Tesco’s and I thought, why the hell not? (Spooky. Maybe their cunning promotion techniques worked on me after all).

I lobbed some Richmond Meat Free Smoked Rashers and some Heck Meat Free Vegan Italia Sausages into the trolley beside a family pack of meat balls, a pork sage and onion stuffed roast-in-the-bag whole chicken, and my customary, these days obligatory, #FBPE-trolling joint of honey-glazed gammon.

I mean, these vegan fake meat products couldn’t be any worse than that retching experience a couple of years back when I politely tried to gobble down some elastic kosher sausages at a Jewish pal’s dinner party? (No offence intended, Liz. I promise I’ll make this slur on your calamitous attempts at haute cuisine up to you, and soon, at Fazenda).   

Well, to save you the ghastliest details of my Tesco’s fake meat experiment, I’m still an omnivore…

The rashers were reminiscent of a snog-the-Brussels-sprout relay game – a revolting and slobbery pre-Covid favourite of my university rugby team. The ‘Italia’ sausages tasted how I imagine a bibulous, drugged-up night in the most diseased part of downtown Bangkok might turn out if one were so plastered and out of it as to mistakenly order a side of muscly soi boy – instead of masala soybeans – to go with one’s Pad Woon Sen.  

What rancid, vomiterrific tat. REALLY disappointing. What unimaginative filth.

Crawl on your hands and knees around the garden in the summer and seek out some desiccated dog excrement. Why not?

Chewing on a season-old knee scab, coated over multiple times with Deep Heat spray, is surely more nutritious and will unquestionably be yummier.

Wise Mouse the cat refused the leftovers. The greedy dogs only ate the darned things after I smeared them with ketchup and, even then, I had to dupe the poor hounds by calling out ‘biscuits’. The children would likely have contacted the NSPCC helpline and so escaped the inevitable pain and anguish – the little bastards getting away with a fluffy cheese omelette.

Now I know how foul these faux meat concoctions taste, I’ll never buy them again. Ever. I warn you all not to fall for this marketing evil. They are Satan’s work – herbivorously and most horribly butchered.

There you go. Rant over … well almost over.

To give our vegan friends some credit in mitigation for allowing these abominations to fill supermarket vegan shelves, I’ve been to a few vegan cafés for meetings of one sort or another, and I’ve never seen any of these fake meat products on the menu. Carrot cake and a strong coffee usually see us omnivores through. Abroad at a Shabu Shabu, salt and pepper tofu just about suffices as an interim course of comestibles, making for a palate cleanser between servings of boiled live shrimp and fine sliced beef. But fake meats? Good God, no.

One of the worst marketing ploys ever. Sure to backfire as retching risk-takers accumulate.

As crap as this choir.

As cardinal a sin as putting a Dacia Duster in the same showroom as a Range Rover SV Autobiography.

Personally, I feel stores should stop selling this garbage or at least be putting warnings on such fake meat products as they do on rat poison and bleaches. 

Those people who have non-taste-related reasons for not eating meat to get something vaguely resembling the amazing taste and texture the rest of us get from eating the real thing – fill your boots, NOT. If those same types think that chewing on these used insoles somehow lets them get the flavours and nutrition they desire without the moral or other implications of actual meat eating, forget it. Instead, be prepared, after a week-long constipation, to shit recurring showers of little bouncy balls which will leave your water closet in need of redecoration while proffering a lingering whiff of Alum Rock.

You’d be far better off joining Liz and me for the delicious bife ancho at Fazenda – medium rare, of course.  

Dominic Wightman is the Editor of Country Squire Magazine.