If there is one question that comes up probably even more often for vegetarians/vegans than "but you eat chicken and fish, right?", it is the question, "If you don't eat meat, why make fake meat and why make it look and taste like the real thing?"
This can be answered so many different ways and it really just shows how much people do not understand what being vegetarian/vegan really is all about.First - let me start off with the conditioning response...
Sadly to say, for the majority of the population, we are conditioned from the time we are babies to love everything meat and dairy. Why do our parents teach us that meat and dairy are healthy and the best thing for our bodies? Because their parents taught them the same thing and their parents did the same. The dairy council passes out booklets in schools to teach us all about how great milk is for us and how Mrs. Cow is positively exuberant that you eat her and her children for every meal. It's called brainwashing folks - I love having these conversations with people who rebel against the religion their parents have pushed upon them, but fail to see all of the other ideals their parents taught them which they don't question in the slightest. "Don't you tell me what to believe!!"....except that and that and that and that. Not to say your parents don't have the best of intentions, but where exactly did they go to school and study nutrition and health? Same place you did...nowhere...you let special interest groups and companies selling you a product tell you what is "healthy".
Hey folks.....the Dairy Council could give a shit about your health, their job is to sell you their product. They work for dairy farmers to keep them in business. Their job is to create studies to make dairy products seem healthy in order to sell more dairy products and make money. This of course means they must do marketing and advertising.....and as anyone who is in marketing and advertising knows....where is the best place to start?? that's right...kids. Get them while they are young and they don't know any better. Disguise your marketing as education, what an ingenious idea.
This goes back to conditioning......We are conditioned from a young age that meat and dairy is the healthiest food we can eat. Animals love to be eaten and they go down with a smile. People!! Study, educate and learn...don't rely on what has been passed down to you! Never let anyone tell you what to believe, especially those selling a product. Why question some things and not others?
Now that we have conditioning out of the way...
There is a very miniscule amount of people who go vegetarian simply because they do not like the taste, smell, texture or look of meat. The majority of us vegetarian/vegans grew up with the same conditioning. We grew up loving meat and dairy. We then educated ourselves on either the health benefits of going without, the horrors of today's factory farming, or simply just compassion towards all animals, or all three. Sadly to say, once we make the change, it doesn't mean we hate the taste of meat, it simply just means we don't want real meat anymore. It can be hard to explain, I personally loved the texture, the taste, the smell, everything about meat, but I know that is solely because I ate it for the first 20 years of my life. You know how hard crack would be to give up after 20 years of use (if it didn't kill you first)? If I can find a substitute with which to cook that has similar properties, hell yeah I am going to use it...and I am going to love it; not because deep down I really want to eat meat, but because I have been conditioned my entire life to like everything about meat, until I opened my eyes and educated myself. I could care less if it looks like meat, and I highly doubt any vegetarian does, but it sure does make the transition easier for those who are trying to make the switch.
"Why make it look like meat?" - in my opinion, that is for the newbies and for those not yet converted. It goes back to conditioning, if it looks similar to what someone is used to, it may be easier for them to make the switch, even more so if it tastes similar. Becoming vegetarian is not easy, I won't lie. At first you probably have the same cravings a cokehead would after giving up that lifestyle. What makes it a little easier on you? Having something there that is similar to what you are giving up, but without the guilt. If I am a new veg and having a craving, I don't wan't a giant portobello mushroom on a bun, I want something that looks like a burger and tastes like a burger slathered in BBQ sauce, mustard, lettuce, tomato, special sauce....blah blah blah. Makes my transition so much easier.
Anyone not veg reading this, please understand, we don't eat meat substitutes because we secretly want meat, it is because the majority of us have been conditioned since the day we were born to like the taste and texture of meat in our meals. Yes, some of us do even eschew fake meat (my wife being one of those rare folks who went veg because she didn't like the taste or texture of meat), but in my "travels" they are few and far between.
Veg's reading this, I know there are probably those of you who have other reasons for eating fake meat or for not eating fake meat, but I really think my explanation covers a lot of those who turned veg in the past couple decades and who were raised as meat-eaters.
I would love to hear your thoughts, please share: Eat fake meat....Don't eat fake meat...why?