Last Call: The best fake meat you’ve had so far

Plant-based chicken nuggets at a KFC in Beijing, China
Plant-based chicken nuggets at a KFC in Beijing, China
Photo: VCG (Getty Images)

Fake meat—a term we lovingly apply to plant-based substitutes for beef, pork, and chicken products—is a growing presence in many people’s everyday lives, but at the moment, I’d venture a guess that we all still consider it something of a novelty. Even though we’ve cooked with it in my house nearly a dozen times, Beyond and Impossible don’t make the cut on our regular grocery list (too expensive), and while I hope to have the vegan Italian Beefless from Buona again soon, I’d do well not to make a habit of any kind of massive beef sandwich, plant-based or otherwise. Still, when I think of these alternative sources of protein, I think of them fondly.

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Has there been a plant-based product or meal that has absolutely blown you away? Any particular instance where you thought, wow, they just might be able to pull this thing off? We’d love to hear of any pleasant surprises you’ve experienced with this stuff. Because we’re increasingly certain that it’s not going away anytime soon, and while no one should be forced to embrace it, it’s fun to swap stories where fake meat defied expectations. Ten or fifteen years ago, as we nibbled into sad, dry veggie patties, we probably couldn’t have imagined that the quality of mass-produced meat-free cuisine would improve by such leaps and bounds. Is it so unreasonable to think that it’s only going to get better from here?

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

DISCUSSION

benjamin-dashley
Benjamin Dashley

For my wife (a vegetarian for almost 15 years) and I (an occasional meat-eater, but vegetarian at home), the best “fake meat” is one that doesn’t try to be meat at all.

Our favorite is the Dr. Praeger’s California veggie burgers. They are spiced just right and you can see the vegetable ingredients, like peas, carrots, other veggies.

That said, Morning Star makes great veggie corn dogs that make my wife and I wonder every time if they’re actually veggie dogs.