You don’t crave meat, you crave seasoning
I hear the same excuses all the time as to why someone can’t go vegan, but some of my favourites include:
“I went vegan but craved meat too much”
“I can’t go vegan I’d miss meat”
“I could never give up cheese/chicken”
“You vegans are missing out on so many tasty foods. Vegan food tastes gross”
Each of these quotes are really important, and I’d like to address them in this article.
Vegan food, correction, plant based food, is not gross. Firstly, if it’s not plant based, it’s not food, it’s a living being. Secondly, I can guarantee you’ve had animal based foods which have been gross. Besides the fact you’ve got a corpse in your food, it will be how the food is prepared and seasoned, which led you to having a gross dish.
In terms of taste, it could have been too much or not enough of the following flavours: Sweet, sour, bitter, salty or umami.
In terms of texture, it could have been either too/too little of: chewy, soft, hard, soggy, mushy, crunchy, lumpy or smooth.
In terms of consistency, it could have been too runny, stodgy or thick
Something you’ll notice though, is adding meat to a dish that is too runny, too sour, not thick enough, not salty enough, too sweet or too hard, will not fix it. The reason it may be not to your liking, again, is down to the preparation/cooking and the ingredients you use. Those ingredients, all being plant based.
A ruined meat dish can never have its flavours balanced with more meat, only plants. However a perfectly balanced plant based dish will always be ruined with meat.
If you’ve had bad ‘vegan food’, the chef either had no clue about cooking/seasoning food, or they just lacked imagination and enthusiasm and plated you up boring salad.
I’d like to once and for all lay to bed the conversation of what you crave, the food you like and why, and that plant foods are the way you like to eat.
I’d like to start with meat on its own. Ask yourself if you ever eat plain meat, just mouthfuls of meat as your meal, not flavoured with anything, just the meat. If you do, you’re the exception, not the rule. Let’s look at typically what people flavour meat with.
Notice – It’s not animal products
Corpse of Turkey – Because it’s around Christmas time, this is more topical than perhaps normally. What do people usually eat turkey with? What comes to your mind when I say turkey? Probably cranberries, right? Maybe stuffing? Gravy! Can’t forget gravy. Nobody eats turkey on its own because it’s dry and tasteless. They stick it in sandwiches (bread is made from plants) with, again, things to flavour it, plants.
Corpse of Chicken – By numbers, this is the most eaten animal (If we’re excluding fish), and again, rarely eaten on its own. Possibly one of the few times it’s actually eaten as chicken is at places like Nandos or KFC. What do they coat nandos chicken in? Peri Peri sauce, which is chillis, garlic, lemons, paprika and other herbs. What is KFC famous for? Their batter with I think, is 18 herbs and spices. Oh look, plants strike again. I think I remember hearing about Zac Efron bulking up for a role by eating plain chicken, and the only way he was able to stomach it was blending them into a smoothie. I wonder what smoothies he makes now that he’s vegan.
Corpse of Cow (Beef) – Beef, here’s where you have me beaten, right? You have your steak blue, because you are amongst the carnivore elite, correct? Whilst it’s typical to go the ‘less is more’ route with beef, often they’ll still add at the very least salt and pepper. In fact, almost every meal has salt and pepper in it, but not every meal has animal products. Checkmate, non – vegans.
Often steaks will have a marinade added, which will be made with plant ingredients. This is just talking about steak though, but pretty much every other form of beef is never eaten as it is. Burgers will have onions and other things added into the patty and then when made into the burger it will have things like lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, relish, BBQ sauce. Minced beef usually becomes bolognese, chilli, lasagne or something similar, which again is flavoured with plants. Meatballs often have onions in them and are served with a marinara sauce and spaghetti, again, plants.
Corpse of Pig – “Bacon tho!” The warcry of legions of home chefs who can only make beans on toast 50% of the time without burning it. Bacon is probably the only debatable one on this list whether people eat it on its own or not. More often than not it will be in something, rather than just eaten plain. On its own it’s very salty, and you need something to balance out that flavour (plants maybe?).
Other common pig foods, include chops, which are almost exclusively served as part of a dish made from plants, rather than on their own. If on their own, apple sauce will be added. Ribs? When was the last time you saw ribs on a menu, without BBQ preceding them? BBQ sauce is made from plant foods. Even the cooking of things like ribs utilises wood for smoking, to add flavour. Wood, again, unless my knowledge is missing a serious gap, is not an animal.
Sausages. Besides having anuses, feet, and all the gross parts of animals you’d refuse to eat blended in, often are flavoured with herb mixes. See here for a guide on the different herbs. Or hot dogs, which are rarely eaten on their own, but instead in a bun with mustard or ketchup on top.
Corpse of Sheep – Lamb, another dry meat, often paired with mint sauce, or cooked in a stew/casserole.
Corpse of Fish – Just about every time I’ve seen fish be served, it will be served with some kind of plant. Lemon, sprigs of rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper. A sauce of some description, or a dressing.
I could go on. If I’ve not listed a meat or food made from a meat, ask yourself if it’s eaten plain, or with seasoning, a sauce, a marinade, a dressing or spice rub. If it’s eaten in burgers, in a stew/casserole, stir fry, or in a pub lunch, think about what’s going with it. It’s always plants. When you say you crave KFC, you’re craving the flavour of KFC, which is plants. If you’re craving a chicken curry, you’re craving the flavours which make it a curry, not the chicken in the curry. If you were craving the chicken in the curry, you’d just eat chicken. Instead it’s everything else, which is what you crave.
If you find an exception to the above, congratulations, this one exception now invalidates the other 99% that weren’t exceptions.
If that statement sounds ridiculous to you, that’s cause it is. The 99% which proves the point I’m making is what counts. Just because you find something that you eat on its own, cooked with no plants, no seasonings, and you don’t put any plant sides, doesn’t really mean anything. Also, it would have to be the vast majority of people who also eat it in the same way for it to be in any way a valid argument. I say ‘valid’ loosely, because you’ve still got basically every other food above that’s being eaten with, or seasoned with, or includes plants.
Oh and something I’d like to point out before moving on, slightly but not entirely unrelated. If you need to cook something for it to be safe to eat, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Until then, have a read of this article (https://vegnews.com/2018/11/large-scale-manufacturers-look-to-vegan-eggs-to-safeguard-against-bird-flu)
“Baking industry experts advise companies to switch to plant-based egg replacers to mitigate losses during the next bird-flu epidemic.”
Bird flu may be fatal, but it’s not nearly as bad as the deadly broccoli and spinach flu. Scary Stuff!
The base of every meal
The base of every meal, or at least, most meals, is plant based. So I’d like to address that, along with aiming this mainly at those people who think “A meal without meat isn’t a meal“.
Most savoury dishes will have the first step as “Fry your onions and garlic”, and then a lot of them also tell you to fry up your carrots and/or celery next. If you’re doing something like a curry, you fry up the spices in oil first to release their fragrance, add your onions, and then build up from there.
Let’s try an interesting experiment
Next time you go to cook a meal, just skip any of the steps which involve cooking up your vegetables like onions, garlic, carrots, celery, shallots, leeks etc. Skip that.
Instead, skip straight to browning or searing the corpse… Sorry, I meant meat.
Then when you’re supposed to add the marinara sauce, if we’re making spaghetti Bolognese. Skip that too. Then you can skip adding anything like basil and oregano to it, salt and pepper, maybe nutmeg if you add that too, don’t bother. All of that is plant food.
After all, you’re craving the meat, right?
Take out all those plants, which you don’t crave the taste of, and just eat the meat. Does that sound appetising, to you? A spaghetti Bolognese without any plants is browned mincemeat… You get where I’m going with this.
Without plants, a curry is not a curry. Without plants, a curry is just browned chicken in water served on rice. Sorry, correction, a curry without plants is just browned chicken in water served without rice, because rice is a plant also.
Plants are what make the meal what it is. The difference between a chicken tikka masala and a chicken vindaloo is a variance of spices, not meat. Take the chicken out and you have a vegetable vindaloo, which is recognisably vindaloo, and still enjoyable. Take the plants out of a vindaloo and you’re left with an unrecognisable mistake of a chicken dish that nobody would realise is a curry.
It isn’t meat that makes a dish what it is, it’s everything else. The everything else is plants.
So why bother with meat at all? If we don’t need it for our nutrition, then why bother?
Meat is in our food for texture. Thankfully, we can replicate texture fairly easily with plants. Take a look at the beyond burger and how well it’s doing, constantly selling out. This isn’t a post about texture though, I’m still not done on flavour and seasonings.
You’re not actually eating meat
Something I want to point out is that for a lot of foods when you buy a meat version, you’re not actually eating meat. Think of products like crisps (smokey bacon, chicken and sage) often will just be a flavour, made from plants. Hell, the best selling flavour of crisps don’t even pretend to be meat. It’s usually ready salted, or salt and vinegar at the top. Pot noodles, or meal in a cup type dishes which have a flavour pack added, it’s often a flavour that makes you think you’re eating a meat version when you aren’t.
While I remember: Pringles, I speak for everyone when I ask – Why is your smoky bacon flavour vegan, and your salt and vinegar flavour not vegan? Get a grip, and then make your cans a little bit bigger.
The reason why they use a flavour that isn’t meat, to make you think you are eating meat, is because meat is expensive. Even if it’s the most heavily subsidised food group, it’s pricey. Vegetables and plants however, are some of the cheapest things you can buy. Kind of shoots a big hole through the whole ‘Veganism is elitist’ argument. If meat is so cheap, why don’t they have pork chops inside a pot noodle? In fact, why are pot noodles an entirely plant based food (except added dairy), if it’s pretending to be for the meat lovers?
I just wanted to further point out how much meat is not a factor in the meals you eat and crave. Just think about the things you add to the meat that you’re convinced you crave.
Sauces: Peri Peri, sriracha, mayonnaise, salad cream, sweet chilli sauce, pesto, hummus, dipping sauces, thousand island, salsa, vinegar. All of these, the flavour comes from plants. Even the ones which aren’t typically vegan like mayonnaise or thousand island, can easily be made vegan and the flavour remain identical. The flavour doesn’t come from the dairy or egg, but from the plants included in the recipe.
Then you have all the toppings, marinades, herbs, spices, batter, sauces, glazes, smokes and dressings we add to food, all which come from plants.
Plus all the meals which you don’t crave meat in like cereals and smoothies.
Meat is such a minor insignificant factor of what you eat. Yet so many people identify with it so strongly.
So many people are firm in their belief that they’ve never had vegan food, or if they did have it, they’ve had nightmares ever since about it. I was certainly of the same belief, I always said “I could never date a vegetarian, what the hell would I cook for one”.
Then I started dating a vegan and as soon as I put even the smallest amount of thought into the things I’d cook, it’s actually very simple. Most people just never need to think about it because they are so stuck in their ways of ‘Meat is all I know’.
Stop thinking that you’d crave or miss meat if you went vegan. Meat does not make a meal, plants do. Plants are what give the vast majority of non vegan dishes any flavour. Without plants, meat is bland and tasteless, or at least not a palatable taste.
You do not crave meat. You crave flavour/seasoning.
Take the plants out of 99% of non vegan dishes and you no longer have a dish you’d want to eat. Take the meat out of every non vegan dish, and you still have a dish that will taste great.