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Seeing as it's Lent, you can have beaver (or capybara, depending on what you can get): https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/02/26/468166791/when-beef-is-off-limits-beaver-and-muskrat-make-it-to-lenten-menu

"It doesn't taste like chicken and it's definitely not a fish, but some people in St. Louis are eating beaver for Lent.

Many Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays in observance of Lent, the season of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter. The church has made exceptions — at times, in some places — for aquatic mammals such as beavers, muskrats and capybara.

That's good enough for Brenton Brown. "A friend of ours said that the Catholic Church is fine with this for Lent," says Brown, co-owner of Bootleggin' BBQ in St. Louis, which is now serving "humanely trapped" smoked beaver on Fridays during Lent."

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I've only read the first sentence but just want to point out that the Impossible Burger isn't available in large parts of the world. I really want to try it but have never. I regularly eat the Beyond Burger but we also had to wait years before we got the chance.

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author

If you're in the US you can order off their website at https://buy.impossiblefoods.com/ , but yeah, I don't know what the options anywhere else are.

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Thanks. I'm in Switzerland so I'll be patient while continuing to enjoy the Beyond products.

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There are a lot of brands of faux meat I'd like to try from the Netherlands. Lucky you, it's a 7 hour train from Basel or perhaps they ship within the EU. BTW I took a cooking class from the creator of the Beyond Burger before he created it. It was great, especially since he complimented my cooking.

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I am originally from the Netherlands buy only the vegetarian butcher comes to mind. It's not bad but it doesn't match Beyond meat in flavor and juiciness.

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*but

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I have wanted to try Meatless from Goes, NL

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Thanks for the suggestion. I might try them next time I'm there.

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I lived in the Netherlands for a while and I remember the seaweed-derived Weedburger being very tasty, though it wasn’t really trying to be a meat substitute. Not sure how available those are even in NL these days, but they were good.

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I'm not sure how well fake meat fares through international shipping, may be some customs issues

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Turns out "large parts of the world" are not in the US

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author

Somewhere in Heaven, James K "Manifest Destiny" Polk sheds a single tear.

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Growth mindset! They are not in the US "yet"

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Actually (in my best Cliff Clavin voice) . . . when we occupied Mexico City a lot of Mexicans (the elites) wanted the U.S. to annex the whole country. Polk took a hard pass on that and we just took the good bits instead.

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Tesco in UK and Ireland sells Beyond Burgers https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/305836057 It's interesting to me to see the sudden expansion of vegan options in supermarkets over the past year, it's gone from "mostly vegetarian if you can even find that" to "everyone is doing a vegan version of all kinds of products".

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Why is it surprising? They get to sell vegetable protein for the price of animal protein, at a huge profit.

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fwiw, I much prefer Beyond Meat. The Impossible Burger seems more like a real hamburger to me, but I think that's because I grew up eating well-done hamburgers and it feels well-done. Beyond gives me a nice pink, juicy burger without the risk of parasite.

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First person I've seen that fully agrees with me. I think Impossible Burger is a more impressive fake but Beyond tastes better.

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I've used both at home. I like both, but I can taste the difference between them. I don't know which I like better, though. Even once did a "head to head" test where I cooked both of them and tried them together like that. Definitely a difference in flavor, but can't figure out which I like better.

(They are rather different products, though, in that Impossible is soy based, while Beyond is pea based.)

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Yeah to be fair I also stock both, I use beyond for actual burger sorts of things, and impossible for like meatballs and lasagna where my goal is to simulate regular ground beef

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IMO Impossible tastes like a slightly below average meat burger. Beyond tastes like a pretty tasty veggie burger that's somewhat like meat.

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This makes sense to me, So far I have only tried Beyond fake meatballs. They actually tasted quite good- but they were distinctly not meat in a textural way that is hard to describe.

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In Europe the Future Burger is also a thing.

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On Vegan Mob's fries: hah! That was exactly my experience at the vegan parrilla in Buenos Aires to which I went several times in 2019 (https://www.happycow.net/reviews/la-reverde-parrillita-vegana-buenos-aires-92712). It's not just that their fake meat is remarkable, or that their fries are subpar: their fries simply aren't realistic. Real, yes, but not realistic.

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I assume it is similar to how In-n-out has terrible fries. It's a combination of using fresh potatoes and single frying. (If you want to make fries at home freezing the potatoes before frying improves the texture).

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Soaking them for >20 min and then drying them previous to frying also helps. Of course it all depends on what you are aiming for. My ideal is very much not McDonald's.

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“Single-frying” implies the possibility of more frying. This is intriguing, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

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To achieve the perfect frie (is it fry) you first cook the fries in a low temperature, then let them rest and refry at a high temperature to get the lovely exterior.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZzhpYBmXBY

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Its pronouns are “fry/fries” :p (yes, I know, I don't care)

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That's what I do when I fry cassava.

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The trick to really good fries is twofold:

1) Make sure there is very little starch on the outside. Starch burns very quickly and you'll end up with dark bitter fries long before the inside is sufficiently cooked.

2) Cook the insides until most of the water has boiled off. If you don't do this, the steam coming out from inside will make the fries go from crisp to soggy within a minute of taking them out of the frier.

If you take a fresh potato, cut it into strips and dump it in a frier at 375F, you will fail on both these counts. You will end up with overly dark fries that go soggy almost immediately, because they would burn on the outside long before they're sufficiently cooked.

If you want a good fry, you have to soak them for a long time and/or blanch them to get rid of starch, then usually cook them twice, once at a low temperature to drive off moisture, the second time to crisp and brown the outside.

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In-N-Out's fries can be vastly improved by "secret" menu ordering. Just ask for "well done" and you'll get a much crispier fry. You can also have them topped with cheese or "animal style" (cheese, grilled onions, burger sauce).

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I much prefer the Animal Style version, FWIW, but maybe it's just because I love grilled onions in general.

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founding

Even "well done" In-N-Out fries are surprisingly bad for such an established fast food chain. Overcooking potatoes the wrong way is still no match for cooking them the right way.

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This is the deep difference that is at the core of the French classical theory of theatre: in the brutal polemics about Corneille's Cid, Corneille argues that his story is real (as it is taken out of historical facts) while his opponents complain it is not realistic.

Popular success has sided with Corneille but I'm not sure French fries will follow the same way.

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I prefer to make a value judgement. There's nothing “unrealistic” about crappy cooking, doesn't mean I want to eat it.

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Unrealistic fries are not the same as bad fries. They are fries that don't taste or feel like fries.

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founding

The Butcher's Son often (but not always) does delivery on DoorDash, including stuff from the market.

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founding

(Like out of about 20 orders I have been surprised by them being fully closed once and only available for pickup once.)

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Drive down and try the burgers and fried chicken at Indigo Burger in Newark! They're amazingly good. 5/5 for me, and their seasoned fries are 6/5.

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Almost every healthy diet involves eating real food and avoiding processed, highly palatable slop. This drive towards replacing the only "real" food that a significant proportion of the populace eat (i.e. meat) with this artificially created stuff is extremely misguided when considering the health of the population as a whole.

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Granted. But I find it's easier to be consistent on a diet if I'm a little flexible and allow myself treat foods like fake meat occasionally.

Also, if someone is trying to go vegan for ethical/anti-meat-plant/CO2 reasons, substituting impossible meat for regular ground beef is a win.

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I don't see stripping entire ecosystems of all life and replacing them with a mono-culture as good for the environment. Sustainable agriculture includes a whole lot of animal husbandry and cyclical pasturing.

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Yes, but let's not pretend that the majority of meat production relies on those practices. The majority of beef comes from high density farms, which rely on monocultures for animal feed. One of the main reasons people keep cutting down more of the rainforest is for cattle and soy to feed that cattle.

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In general, vegetarians live longer and healthier lives than meat eaters. Although I agree that eating natural whole foods is generally better than eating processed foods, I think processed plant-based meat is no worse for people than the processed animal-based meat most of them are already eating.

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Better vegetarian health is a very plausible claim, but do we have good evidence that it's (primarily) because of the vegetarianism, or because people who go veg tend to be healthier for other, hard-to-control-for reasons?

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Good question!

The boring answer is something like "we can never be sure of this, but clearly being vegetarian is at least compatible with good health"

The speculative answer is that it does seem potentially causal, based on studies of otherwise-similar Adventist churches that do or don't ban meat. See Section 4 of https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/12/11/acc-is-eating-meat-a-net-harm/

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The Adventist research is quite interesting. Two observations from reading this summary of findings https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144107/ :

First, in the subgroup analyses the pescatarians seem to show the best results. I wonder if this points in the direction of the classic Mediterranean/'Blue Zones' type diets being equally or more healthy than full-on vegetarianism.

Second, the Adventist health studies control for BMI in some sub-analyses but not others. Notably, the all-cause mortality results control for a whole raft of covariates, but not BMI; this has me wondering how much 'maintaining a healthy weight' is the causal pathway for a lot of these outcomes vs meat consumption per se.

(I fully acknowledge that, as a lapsed vegetarian, I may be engaging in motivated reasoning here.)

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On the other hand you might consider vegetarian and non-vegetarian populations in India, where the vegetarians have much worse health (the first article on this I found by googling: https://www.nutraingredients-asia.com/Article/2019/02/04/Meat-and-morbidity-Why-are-Indian-vegetarians-more-likely-to-be-obese-than-their-omnivorous-counterparts#).

Purely anecdotally, I noticed growing up that the Indian vegetarians I grew up around mostly ate potatoes and rice, along with a shocking amount of deep fried food. Seeing vegetarianism be associated with health in America was pretty surprising.

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That sounds wonderful! Indian vegetarians also don't eat eggs, so egg-based desserts like mousse aren't an option for them.

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Vegetarians smoke less and are richer & higher class than non-vegetarians, so this correlation is not proof of causation.

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founding

I definitely looked at Impossible from a health perspective and concluded it was not obviously an improvement over hamburger. (As I recall, it is made with coconut oil, which is absolutely the vegetarian equivalent of meat, in terms of saturated fat content.)

That said, both hamburger and Impossible are "processed foods", in different ways, and I could believe that either one has a secret bad-for-you X-factor. For example, I know that carcinogens are created when cooking meat with high heat -- presumably the Impossible Burger doesn't have those? Does it have other ones instead? Who knows.

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Given the very recent proliferation of these meat substitutes, do we have enough data to make any conclusion whatsoever? I assume most vegan diets till date have included very little of these.

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When factors such as exercise, smoking, and processed food consumption are factored in, meat eaters fare much better than vegetarians, particularly on mental health.

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Do you have links to studies? I'm curious.

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I don't pretend plant-based food is healthier, but I have a (mostly) plant-based diet out of ethical (and to a lesser extent) environmental reasons...(I do eat seafood occasionally, but definitely won't eat tetrapods)...

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Hath a vegan hotdog the processed-nature?

It's not the processing in and of itself that's bad, it's the refinement of the tasty parts by removing the healthy parts that's the problem. Most processed foods are not a painstaking attempt to recreate a different food, they are what you get by feeding existing foods to Moloch. (Impossible Firstborn Son™?)

Thus I doubt we can generalise from white bread to vegan meat.

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I'm not sure you're thinking of "processed” correctly. Cured meat of any form is considered processed. While some modern techniques are even worse, curing meat in a salt brine is very much part of what makes the processed result tasty, and bad for you.

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Well then we need no recourse to the abstraction of 'proceesed food'. We can assay real and impossible bacon to see which contains more sodium, nitrite ions etc.

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Indeed, hence my confusion with the excitement over this topic.

Conflation of doing this for ethical vs health reasons, I guess, but I cannot fathom what makes people think the primary goal of creating an indistiguishable ethical meat is health.

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*Cooking* is also a form of food processing. Now go eat your uncooked chicken and wheat.

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Do you have a guess as to what percentage of meat Americans eat is what one would call "real" food, particularly as compared with the non-meat that they're eating?

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I found a study summarised here:

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-06/e-ase061719.php

Average weekly consumption:

Processed meat: 182g

Unprocessed red meat: 340g

Poultry: 256g

Seafood: 116g

So, about 20% of meat consumption in the US is "processed meat", which includes luncheon meat, sausages, ham and bacon.

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I'm a non-vegetarian who eats Impossible Burger to reduce my carbon footprint. (Also, "processed" is a very high-level category that likely disguises many relevant distinctions between "healthy" and "unhealthy" foods.)

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McDonald's (at least in my country) has had a "veggie burger" for as long a I can remember. The patty was made of potatoes, peas, corn, carrot and onion squished into a patty, and it tasted exactly like potatoes, peas, corn, carrot and onion.

If I were to eat a vegetarian burger, that sounds a lot better than some form of weird textured pea protein tortured in a lab until it seems vaguely meaty.

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founding

> The French fries almost, but not quite, managed to taste like real French fries. I have no explanation for this. I have no reason to think that vegan restaurants make fake French fries. I don't even know what making fake vegan French fries would mean. Yet they were still slightly off.

I know McDonald's fries are cooked in animal fat, which contributes to the flavor. It wouldn't surprise me if this is actually pretty common, and potatoes fried in other fats just taste differently.

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Actually, McDonalds fries used to be cooked in lard but now are cooked in vegetable oil. Think there was a long New Yorker article about this a few years ago.

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founding

I thought that, but when I Googled it to fact-check it appears to not be true as of Jan 2020: https://www.treehugger.com/mcdonalds-french-fries-still-not-vegetarian-3970283

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My understanding is that they are cooked in vegetable oil, but have some sort of beef juice added to them to mimic the beef-fat flavor.

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The oil includes Natural Beef Flavor, which does not have to, and probably doesn't, include beef. It includes enzymes that make a beef flavor. Those enzymes were probably created from base chemicals, not animals.

The article linked above does not contain any evidence that actual beef products are used in the oil. The statement form McDonalds only says "Beef Flavor"

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Vegetable oil is a highly processed "food" so I doubt it's an improvement over lard, which people have used for hundreds of not thousands of years for frying.

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I know they were cooked in veg oil years ago in the UK so I expect it's a regional thing - I remember something about converting it to biofuel for their delivery trucks, and I don't think that works for lard.

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Ok, they appear to be doing a blend:

"McDonald’s wanted to keep its signature beefy flavor but without the beef fat itself, so it came up with a solution. Now, the fast-food chain adds “natural beef flavor” to its vegetable oil to give its fries their irresistibly meaty (though not-so-vegan-friendly) taste."

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"Natural Beef Flavor" does not have to, and probably doesn't, include beef. It includes enzymes that make a beef flavor. Those enzymes were probably created from base chemicals, not animals.

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Beef tallow, actually, then vegetable oil with beef tallow flavoring, which is why a group of Hindus did a class-action lawsuit against them for not disclosing this.

McDonalds fries are a highly engineered product, like Pringles, with wheat, a sugar coating to caramelize, the aforementioned flavoring and only a 60% core of potato. I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would prefer them to In-n-Out’s, which are made of actual potatoes sliced in front of you. If they are not crispy enough for you, ask for them well-done.

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You answered your own question: they're "a highly engineered product", perfectly calibrated for maximum appeal for minimum price, of course people prefer them to real food - that's why we're all so unhealthy!

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I don't know what to tell you: I like all kinds of fries: fast food, sit down resteraunt, homemade, from a bag in the frozen aisle, I love fries. But when I tried In-n-Out's fries they just tasted bad. It didn't make sense: I was so happy to see them slice the fries in the store, from whole potatoes, and yet it tasted bad. I make fries at home, and while they aren't as good as restaurant quality they do have the benefit of being just sliced potatoes cooked in oil, and they taste remarkably better than In-n-Outs. I was so disappointed.

Burger was fantastic though.

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Next time, ask for “fries well-done”. It’s part of the secret menu.

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The lawsuit was in 2001. The oil currently contains "Natural Beef Flavor", which does not have to and likely does not contain actual beef products. Its likely made from base chemicals that create enzymes that make the beef flavor.

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Yes, whether that change was because of the lawsuit or because the new flavorings are cheaper is anyone's guess.

Most likely they are produced by yeasts, as much "beef" flavor is. "Natural" does not mean what most people think it means, e.g. "natural strawberry flavor" doesn't mean "made from strawberries" but "made by a natural organism or process, not chemical synthesis", and more often than not engineered yeasts are involved, as with most pharmaceuticals.

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Beef tallow drippings from the burgers, not lard. Lard is hog fat.

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This is fairly uncommon, and is generally advertised on the menu at upscale restaurants when it is the case. I asked every time I ordered for a while after learning about McDonald's, and never found a second case

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If you're in the midwest, the Culver's chain has a veggie burger that is extremely solid. It does not try to directly simulate meat, exactly, as it has visible pieces of various vegetables in it - instead it proudly occupies the liminal space between veggies and meat and tastes vaguely fresh and meaty at the same time.

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I only tried it once, but I remember the Culver's veggie burger being hard, disappointing, and seemingly mostly made of rice? To be fair, this was like 10 years ago, maybe they have improved.

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Taste aside, ancient and modern nutritionists agree that highly processed food is vastly inferior nutritionally to minimally processed food and often are determined years later to have a deleterious effect on human health.

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I think you should be careful there. Nutrition claims are notoriously weak when exposed to any scrutiny.

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I do think there's a general consensus that processed food is probably bad for you, that's pretty much the only thing nutritionists can agree on, although that's more because of all the added salt, fat and sugar than anything else.

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Nutritional science is so broken that it probably doesn't matter what nutrition experts agree on (and there's criticisms that the field censors dissent, so "consensus" might not mean what it ought to), just as it didn't matter how doctors in the 1200s had a consensus that bloodletting was the #1 way to cure any illness.

The food frequency questionnaire, which is a survey that asks people how often they eat certain items, is the source of data behind a lot of nutritional science, and it's been shown repeatedly to be basically worthless.

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I'm all for being sceptical of nutritionists, but I'm pretty confident that getting the majority of your calories from cola and crisps will not be good for your health compared to eating fruit and vegetables. It's hard to think of a plausible explanation for the recent rise in obesity and diabetes that isn't in some way linked to diet, they're just too well correlated.

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The assertions of western nutritionists are shown to be wrong on a regular basis. It doesn't help the food pyramids put out by the gov't are designed to enrich corp ag donors, rather than encourage healthy eating habits in the general population.

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So you disagree that fresh foods are better tasting and more nutritious than stale, rotting foods. Got it!

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Indeed, nutrition is junk science.

*Chugs methanol*

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Rotting foods? Like wine and cheese?

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Fermenting is a kind of "rotting" I suppose, which creates bacteria that happen to be good for our guts. Outside of fermentation, though, we all know what rotten food that's just been left out smells and tastes like. But there are groups of people who swear by rotten meat. You can find them on youtube, if you have the stomach for it.

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This is disingenuous arguing, and amounts to burying your head in the sand and refusing to have a discussion. Respond to a strong interpretation of someone's comment, not an implausible strawman.

The parent comment was just about how claims like "highly processed foods are vastly inferior [etc]" are not widely known to be true. That doesn't mean rotting foods are good.

I think there's a very good case that some kinds of processing are good. For example, bread is made by a complex process (quite a bit of time kneading to change the chemical properties of the dough, yeast, etc), but bread is a far more nutritious food than eating raw wheat and yeast unprocessed.

There's processed foods that are evidently bad for you (fast food), but I don't think it's the highly processed bit that by themselves makes them bad, but rather the specific kind of processing and ingredients.

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The Incas died as a race and a civilization so there’s that. But yes there are more factors involved than just aspects of the process. that doesn’t make the issue of processing irrelevant or silly.

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The Inca empire ended, as all empires do sooner or later. But they didn't all die "as a race"; their descendents are still there. Are you suggesting that they all died because they prepared their potatoes wrong? Even with our lousy modern diet we aren't dying out!

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So many clowns in this forum

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Depends on the process surely? After all, cooking something is a process but is often healthier for the person eating it.

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Cooking and soaking makes many foods edible that otherwise would be. Not sure why everyone ignores "highly processed" vs. "minimally processed." The former did not exist until fairly recently, about the same time heart disease and diabetes became more prevalent in western society.

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The Incas would process potatoes by repeatedly freezing and drying them over a period of five days, then trampling them, then leaving them exposed for another five days, then washing them for another week in a river, then drying them for another five days. After all that, you can store your potatoes for decades without refrigeration.

Anyway, all of that sounds like "highly processed" food to me. But it drives home the point that it's silly to talk about degree of processing instead of the specifics of what processes are happening.

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The Incas died as a race and a civilization so there’s that. But yes there are more factors involved than just aspects of the process. that doesn’t make the issue of processing irrelevant or silly.

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How could any ancient nutritionist have made any claim comparing existing food to food that didn't exist yet?

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I doubt the ingredients in these burgers are new and unknown to the people past. Or are the ingredients created in a lab?

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I thought you objected to the modern processing (which ancient peoples could not have known about), rather than the ingredients (which are ordinary harmless things like beans).

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I do "object" to eating chemically treated foods subjected to extreme pressure and heat, and multi-ingredient dishes are hardly unknown in traditional cooking. And beans contain "anti-nutrients" that cause the farting and poor absorption of nutrients, and require simple but tedious processing and cooking for optimal results.

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"Processed" is such a broad term as to be meaningless

Also who are "ancient nutritionists"? Vitamins were discovered barely a century ago. And preventing scurvy with fruit only a little before that

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I don't know about ancient nutritionists, but medieval nutritionists knew what to eat to keep your humors balanced.

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There's TCM from China and Ayrurveda from India. Processed means what do you have to do to make a food edible? You can eat a peach off a tree as it is. Such foods are completely unprocessed. Soaking or adding heat are also processes used to make foods more digestible. Yogurt undergoes a fermentation process. So traditional processes of this kind on whole foods has sustained to human race up to the present. This is what I meant by minimally processed. Compare these simple processing methods to those used to make, say, canola oil, which requires a fair amount of extreme temperatures and chemical soaks and bleaching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ-hz6ZHv0E

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Is a Beyond Burger more or less processed than a meat hamburger?

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You tell me. That's easy research.

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Too lazy? OK here's the process of making hamburger: Kill the cow, chop it up, and run it crank it throuh a meat grinder

And now for your frankenburger:

WHAT ARE BEYOND BURGERS AND IMPOSSIBLE BURGERS MADE OF?

Both Beyond Burgers and Impossible Burgers are made by manipulating proteins found in plants. Beyond Meat’s process involves heating, cooling, and compressing proteins extracted from peas, rice, and beans to create a fibrous texture that mimics real animal tissue. Plant-based fats and carbohydrates are added to give it flavor and hold everything together, and beet juice gives it its “bloody” quality.

The secret to making Impossible Burgers is something called heme, which is the compound that allows an animal's blood to deliver oxygen to its organs. Plants also use heme, but they don’t contain as much as animals do. When food has a flavor that can be described as “meaty,” heme is usually the source. By genetically modifying yeast to produce the heme found in soybeans, Impossible Foods can produce this substance at a massive scale. Impossible Burgers also contain manipulated protein from wheat and other additives for flavor and texture, but the soy heme-containing protein (or leghemoglobin) is what makes it such a convincing meat alternative.

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What fraction of hamburgers consumed by the average American have a history resembling the one you mention? My impression is that the vast majority of hamburger meat goes through a far more roundabout process.

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You're funny.

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https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzaa052_054 Summary

https://assets.researchsquare.com/files/rs-65066/v2_stamped.pdf Full Text

A current metabolomics analysis* comparing plant-based meat alternatives and beef. Specifically, analyses of 18 different packages of "market-leading plant-based meat alternative" vs ground meat from 18 different grass-fed Angus beef raised in Idaho. The conclusion:

"Despite suggested similarity based on their Nutrition Facts panel, we show that metabolites with important regulatory roles in human health are either absent or present in lower quantities in the plant-based meat alternative. These data suggest that novel plant-based meat alternatives should, at present, not be viewed as direct nutritional replacements for red meat."

I suppose if you want the results the Adventists get you should consider using their methods including their fake meats:

http://www.columbiaunion.org/content/processing-evolution-veggie-meat

The Chik'n Bites look tasty and appear to be a pantry staple. The recipe for Bella Burgers just makes my gut hurt... includes 1 cup of vital wheat gluten!

http://www.columbiaunion.org/content/bella-burger-recipe

* "metabolomics analysis" is a gas

chromatography/electron-ionization mass spectrometry (GC/ei-MS)-based untargeted metabolomics method. No epidemiological methods or remembering what someone ate a month ago. Dissolve the product, run it through a chemical analysis system/process, analyze the result. Do it on each of 18 different packages for each product type. Perform statistical comparisons of quantitative results.

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Burger joints have been stuffing all the filler they dare in burgers since forever. Now they offer an 'all filler' burger with lots of preaching about Saving The Planet and Minimizing Carbon Use and Same S Different Day and Pay Twice As Much It Is Your Moral Duty.

Maybe this is the turning point. Throw in Carnitine and it really is better for you. Beats sawdust in bread.

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There have already been strong associations between "ultra-processed" foods and many non-communicable diseases.

https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.13146 "This systematic review and meta‐analysis investigated the association between consumption of ultraprocessed food and noncommunicable disease risk, morbidity and mortality."

"Ultraprocessed" has a specific definition of: "NOVA is a food classification system first proposed by Monteiro and colleagues in 2009 1 and is now endorsed by the United Nations and World Health Organization. NOVA categorises food depending on the nature, extent and reasons for food processing.2 3 Ultra-processed foods are characterised by NOVA as industrial formulations generated through compounds extracted, derived or synthesised from food or food substrates.4-6 Such consumables typically contain five or more ingredients per product, while scarcely containing intact or unprocessed wholefood.7 Ultra-processed foods also commonly contain artificial substances such as colours, sweeteners, flavours, preservatives, thickeners, emulsifiers and other additives used to promote aesthetics, enhance palatability and increase shelf life. (1)

Beyond Meat product label: Water, Pea Protein*, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Pomegranate Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Beet Juice Extract (for color).

Impossible Burger product label: Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% Or Less Of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant), Soy Protein Isolate, Vitamins and Minerals (Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12).

With more than 5 ingredients and many extracted or synthesized ingredients both of these products qualify as "ultra processed" by an accepted standard of measure.

(1) (PDF) Ultraprocessed food and chronic noncommunicable diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of 43 observational studies. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345656763_Ultraprocessed_food_and_chronic_noncommunicable_diseases_A_systematic_review_and_meta-analysis_of_43_observational_studies [accessed Feb 26 2021].

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One day, maybe not in lifetime but still in the pipeline, eating regular meat is going to be a class marker for the upper rungs of society as a back-to-nature kind of thing; plebeians may eat processed soy, but in this household we only eat authentic, knife-carved meat imported from the cattle ranches of Mongolia and cooked by an in-house specialist in meat preparation.

I’ll be dead then, but I’ll clue in my hypothetical grandkids so they can see it coming.

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author

I'm fine with this outcome - I bet the meat will be ethically/sustainably raised, since usually that happens with prestige products targeted at the upper class.

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I’m not disapproving of it per se, I’m just staking out a prediction for long term bragging rights.

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Umm, you're a bit late. A bunch of Golden Age Science Fiction writers, notably Poul Anderson, beat you to it.

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Poul Anderson, Heinlein, Niven, Pournelle, Zelazny beat everyone to everything.

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So only the upper class can have healthy diets, and the lower classes can consist on processed vegan foods and be malnurished? And yes it would require processing, as protien powders, algea capsules and B12 shots are lab made. We will still need to strip entire ecosystems down to the dirt and cause environmental mayhem growing all that wheat and soy for the lower classes. I guess environmentally sustainable and nourishing foods are only allowed for the wealthy. This idea that vegetarianism = whole food living and that it is somehow superior or better for health the environment is such anti-intellectual hokum that only people living in cities so completely devoid of connection to nature could fall for it. I'm not even where to start here but Lierre Keith's "The Vegetarianism Myth" is a good start. All of human history is another.

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I suspect so, but I imagine "cultured" meat will play some role midway between soy and real meat - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultured_meat

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Scott, I know this isn't a restaurant, but you should review the new Brave Robot ice cream. It's vegan but made from lab-grown whey instead of almond/soy milk. And it's now available in the bay area at Sprouts. I think it's surprisingly good, and it's better than my previous favorite vegan ice cream (Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie).

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Any excuse to eat ice cream!

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Generalizing beyond the Bay Area: what are some more widespread chains with vegetarian meat selections besides a generic Impossible/Beyond burger, and how well do they produce said dishes?

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Veggie Grill is one of the largest commercial chains. The Ching Hai religious group also operates a very large number of vegetarian Chinese restaurants under various brands, sometimes "Loving Hut". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_Hut

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There's a Loving Hut in my area. They have both the Impossible and Beyond burgers, which tasted pretty similar to me. I'd give them 4/5 - a pretty good approximation of a burger, but still basically just a burger. Also had some good vegan desserts.

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founding

Ike's is actually blowing up. They're all over LA, they're in Reno and Vegas, and in Phoenix.

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For some reason in North America the vegan fast food options are pitiful compared to Europe...The homeland of "Free Market" LOL...

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founding

FWIW, my take on vegan/vegetarian food is... there are so many good foods without meat! Like, give me a bunch of chickpeas cooked in sauce (chana masala) instead of chickpeas turned into cubes pretending to be chicken (or whatever). And so I like the salads at The Butcher's Son, and I like their cookies, and the bacon macaroni salad is pretty good, but the sandwiches are all unsettlingly fake.

It maybe helps that I've eaten many, many grain-heavy meals over the course of my life (like, just pasta and sauce, which is vegan, or just bread and butter/ghee, which is vegeterian), and don't really miss meat when I go off it, and so I don't have a sense of "where's the beef?" after I get a bunch of protein from a non-meat source.

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Ah, "pasta and sauce", the student staple. Never really was a fan, you need to beans and vegetables in there if you want to call it a meal. I'm the kind of person who makes their own sauce though, so I am very pretentious.

I personally dislike any dishonesty in food, I think I distrust a lot of vegan stuff just because it seems to be trying to hide its true nature from me. Like, I know what Quorn is on an intellectual level (vats of fungus), but I don't think I understand what it is in the same way that I understand a chicken thigh.

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founding

Also very easy to cook--I started making it for myself at ten-ish? I was a picky eater, and me making a simple meal for myself was a good balance between my desire to eat the same things and my parents wanting to eat different things.

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One thing I found interesting living in Asia was there were huge amounts of amazing vegan soy based foods, but they weren't marketed like tofu is in the west as substitutes for meat, but as things in themselves with their own characteristics,

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I was hoping you'd include the Impossible Whopper from Burger King. Since you didn't, here's my review:

Tastes like a Whopper.

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I posted a similar review on SSC some time ago. This is both a positive and negative for Impossible Meat. It's great that you can get something which is vegetarian which does replicate the traditional experience quite well. On the down side, it's like the lowest quality meat product to replicate.

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>At least they’re not a front for the mob - I assume real mob fronts try to avoid including “mob” in the name.

That's exactly what the mob would like you to assume, is it not?

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founding

"Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!"

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Great read (as a fellow mostly-vegetarian).

Since you mentioned cults, a significant number of Chinese vegetarian restaurants are operated by this religious group. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ching_Hai

I've seen them branded as "Nature Vegetarian" before, so it's possibly related. Their most popular chain is called "Loving Hut".

It's an interesting and tasty rabbit-hole.

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Golden Lotus is definitely run by Supreme Master Ching Hai cultists. They're by far the best cult I know, producing incredibly tasty food all across Taiwan. Their restaurants in the US are much more mixed, ranging from terrible to great.

I can tell more or less based on their menu, which is quite similar to most Loving Hut menus. Also, the Oakland Wiki at https://localwiki.org/oakland/Golden_Lotus_Vegetarian_Restaurant says they are.

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The tell is usually the picture of Ching Hai above the cash register. They will definitely proselytize if you ask them if they are followers. My local one was a literal hole in the wall but the food was amazing.

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That and the TVs. But I've never been to Golden Lotus (I don't live in the Bay Area). I was 99% sure it was SMCH simply from the website design and the menu. I've been to maybe 6 or so Loving Huts in Taiwan (all good) and another 6 or so in the US (_very_ mixed results).

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I’d love to hear from any athletic, vegetarian-ish folks who consume 1.5-2g of protein per kg of body weight. How do you get to that level of protein consumption without meat?

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My impression: Lots of protein powder in shakes/smoothies. And if you're not vegan, lots of eggs (although that probably causes more animal suffering than just eating beef).

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I looked into it and eggs cause way more suffering that most meat, but fish is the worst: https://reducing-suffering.org/how-much-direct-suffering-is-caused-by-various-animal-foods/

Of course, this depends on the assumptions you make, but this justifies my cheese consumption so I'm fine with it.

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The author updated that retrospectively and said that the numbers aren't really trustworthy. Plus the fact that there's no accounting for method of production really makes it meaningless. Are eggs from certified pasture-raised chickens worse than milk from factory farmed dairy cows? I suspect not!

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I'm aware that these are just estimates, but I wouldn't say that makes it meaningless since the majority of the animal products most people eat comes from intensive modern farming.

I'm personally sceptical of certification, the standards are always easier to meet than you'd expect although it's better than nothing. "Free Range" just means outdoors some of the time, if you want ethical eggs you're probably best off keeping your own chickens.

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That's my intuition as well. Personally, consuming that much protein powder would create an untenable amount of flatuance for me to particpate in soceity.

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Often times the gas is coming from lactose or additives. If you haven't already, you might want to try an unflavored whey protein isolate and see if that works better with your GI.

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I run and cycle enough to be considered athletic, and getting all my protein from cheese, beans, lentils and nuts rather than meat doesn't seem to have had any effect on my physique (still lean/scrawny) so I assume I'm making it work. Nuts and beans actually compare favourably to meat in terms of protein content, the only difficulty is getting all the amino acids but that's what cheese is for. Of course, I'm not actually trying to build muscle rapidly, I'm considering taking up weightlifting but I'd be aiming more for "muscular" than "jacked" and so I wouldn't need to up my protein intake much.

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Yea my impression has been that going vegetarian is doable for endurance athletes but tougher once lifting heavy things gets introduced.

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It presumably gets easier (although probably more expensive) if you're willing to go all in and just buy protein as a powder, that's available as whey or plant protein. I'd probably be able to get away with just eating more since putting on weight is not a concern for me, but for most people the amount of calories it would take to get sufficient protein from diet alone could be causing problems - don't want to hide those abs behind a fat reserve!

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Arian Foster went to two Pro Bowls as a running back after largely eliminating meat from his diet, and I think it would be fair to describe him as jacked (certainly by the standards of normal humans) so it obviously is possible, at least if you don't have any real budgetary constraints.

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1- The effect can’t precede the cause. He was already jacked when he went vegan.

2 - Adrian Peterson ate Spam and syrup sandwiches. Wayne Gretzky ate hot dogs and soda. These athletes are genetic freaks so very little of what they do is instructive for us mere mortals. The constraints are way more than budgetary.

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Is maintaining a ton of muscle once you have it really that much easier from a dietary standpoint than building it in the first place? Genuine question - this is not something I know very much at all about.

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Anecdotally, hypertrophy is about as difficult as fat loss.

I’m trying to think of what evidence I could point to.

Homeostasis is a powerful force to overcome. Eating when fully satiated or not eating when hungry is hard.

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Yes, it's way easier to maintain than to gain, even for very advanced athletes. (An exception is when PEDs are involved: going off PEDs tends to result in losses.)

It's quite common for strength athletes to significantly clean up their diet after getting most of their gains. It's rare that they ate clean to get the gains, and even more rare to get the gains while being vegetarian or vegan.

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I got into a little discussion recently and they referred to this: https://www.vivolife.com/products/perform

This post is not an endorsement.

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Not athletic but I get roughly ~70 g protein just from my usual breakfast (my largest meal of the day) roughly evenly split between vegetarian sausage and a bowl of greek yogurt with walnuts and blueberries.

In general I use the Eat This Much meal planner which can generate meal plans based on calorie/macro targets given whatever dietary restrictions you want (not fully a recommendation—it can be tedious to fine-tune and there's a bit of a learning curve to using it optimally). It did start by wanting me to have a lot of whey powder and eggs but you can tell it you don't want *that* and it'll try to come up with other things accordingly.

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Feb 26, 2021Liked by Scott Alexander

In case you're interested in better-tasting items at Souley Vegan, I would highly recommend the crispy tofu burger. It's not mock meat, but it's excellent!

Golden Lotus is run by followers of the Supreme Master Ching Hai (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ching_Hai), most of whose followers' restaurants are called Loving Hut. Oddly enough, despite all displaying the Supreme Master's artwork (and in some cases her books, videos, or TV station), they don't have a particularly standardized menu and the dishes vary hugely from location to location.

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I feel like this is some ironic comeuppance for me saying this blog was too focused on weird bay area specific issues in the past

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I'm lacto-vegetarian now and I honestly don't find myself craving these fake meats. In my limited experience, they manage the texture of meat without the flavour, and are just kind of weird and wobbly. I guess I've never been the biggest fan of meat, raw meat disgusts me so I'm probably vegetarian for mostly aesthetic reasons, I'm way less picky when other people are cooking. Meat substitutes are also way too processed for me to be 100% on board, as other people have noted, but you could say the same for most meat-based burgers and sausages (sign of the times that I have to specify "meat" there).

I'm very much onboard with the "cover it in sauce and you won't notice" approach to vegan cooking, I love making lentil curries and bean chillies, although since I'm not actually vegan I get to cover it with cheese if I want to. I've tried most of the plant based milks and they're all OK, but for me the hurdle to clear is a plant based cheese that a non-vegan would actually find appealing, and I'm not sure where to buy that. Cheese is probably my main source of protein at this point, giving that up will be difficult.

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I want to add that I'm perfectly capably of cutting up a mouse FOR SCIENCE! so I'm not squeamish, I just feel no urge to eat it afterwards.

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I've eaten alligator, it was very good, though what was notable was the texture (tender and juicy) more than the flavor.

On the other hand, rattlesnake was very disappointing. Mostly breading with almost no rattlesnake. Perhaps vegetarian rattlesnake would be better.

As a general thing, I eat weird meat when possible on the assumption that it's less likely to have been bred into flavorlessness.

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I've had gator once and frog legs twice. The gator and the first frog legs had the same odd (but good) flavor, but the second frog legs tasted like overcooked chicken.

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Yeah, actual gator is delicious. I mean, I've only ever had it deep-fried, and that's kind of a flavor cheat code, but I've never been let down by it.

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Yeah, gator tail is fine meat. Think of it like any other type of random game. It's more of a white meat, and I've heard it compared to chicken, though I think the people who say that mean "bland". I've only ever had it fried, which is ... fine. It's a novelty, but nothing particularly delicious or disgusting.

I've also only ever had it in small strips, which I assume is due to how it's "picked" from the tail, though I have no first-hand experience picking the meat.

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I find it almost impossible to believe you couldn't get big chunks of meat from an alligator tail if you wanted. More likely it's tough, as muscles that are used a lot tend to be, and cutting it into thin strips across the grain alleviates that.

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As I recall, the alligator meat I had was good-sized nuggets.

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How was it cooked?

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It's been a while, but I think it was deep-fried.

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Well, I just went down an alligator butchering/cooking YouTube rabbit hole. The Kenji Lopez-Alts and Helen Rennies of this world don't cook a lot of gator, so the explanations aren't as clear and fleshed out as you'd get from someone like that, but it looks to me like my guess was more or less right. Alligator tail (especially the central muscle commonly referred to as "tenderloin") is the premium, tenderest joint on an alligator, but that "on an alligator" qualifier is doing a lot of work - it's a very lean muscle that has the potential to be unpleasantly tough but which experienced alligator cooks treat aggressively in order to make it tender. That generally means some combination of mechanical tenderization, slicing it thinly against the grain, acidic marinades and deep frying - perhaps even all of the above. You could cut a thick alligator tail roasting joint, sear it in a pan and roast it in the oven like a beef fillet, but no-one does because it wouldn't be very nice.

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Gator is one of the things I miss most having moved to the PNW from Cajun-adjacent lands. It's becoming slowly more available here, but it still doesn't reach the heights I remember (although that could just be childhood nostalgia). At its best, it's to chicken thigh what chicken thigh is to chicken breast.

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Based on watching a bunch of alligator videos on YouTube just now, I suspect the reason is that while your comparison may be apt from the consumer's point of view, it isn't from the chef's: chicken thigh is incredibly forgiving whereas alligator takes a fair bit of work and know-how to get right and can be pretty unpleasant if you don't.

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That makes sense. The Cajun chefs back home (it's been 20 years but it'll always be "back home") knew how to work with it, but the folks out here just don't.

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The time I had rattlesnake was on a Boy Scout trip in the Sierra Nevada. Fried over a camp stove with a little oil, just like we did with the fish we caught. Tasted between chicken and fish.

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If you’re ever jn Atlanta, there’s a ridiculously good vegan Asian fusion place there called Herban Fix. I’m not vegan and the meals there are among the best I’ve ever had.

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I haven't had much off of the veggie/vegan menu, but Ike's is good.

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Real alligator also tastes kind of weird, so it may very well have been an authentic replication!

Also, no stuffing on the Turkey sub? For shame.

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founding

Love Ike's, never heard of Crave. Maybe because I've never lived in the core bay area. I mostly have Ike's when I go home to Santa Cruz. Haven't been in a few months. Regardless, my impression was that Ike's had quite a few halal options (halal chicken, I believe) and I wonder if this is something they copied from Crave in their turn.

Having never been to Crave, I feel like Ike's has to win in any kind of fake-meat competition because their sauces are so amazing (with the exception of the marinara, which generic). I highly recommend anything with their yellow barbecue sauce and/or any of their habanero offerings. I usually get the habanero on the side though. Flamey! (by white guy standards).

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My favorite place is Shizen, a vegan sushi spot in the SF Mission which is far better than the vast majority of fish-based sushi restaurants.

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Seconded!

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The Butcher's Son bacon isn't made in house. I'm not sure who does make it, but they may tell you. It definitely contains konjac, and might be made by Be Leaf. My sister thought it was made by Loving Hut, which is a cult that runs a restaurant chain with locations in SF and the South Bay. You can byu it from Butcher's Son at about the same price as upscale pig bacon.

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The rest of my family is vegan and was based in the Bay Area until last week. They aren't so keen on fake meats, but one place that stands out is Cozy Wok. Also, the fake meats at Bare Knuckle Pizza are nothing special, but the vegan mozzarella is excellent (by Butcher's Son) and the pizza is topnotch if Neapolitan is your thing.

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Loving Hut had two locations in NY but I think only Wiliamsburg is still open

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> It came in little rectangles and tasted like the abstract concept of eating something

a very rationalist food then!

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founding

No no – obviously the only _truly_ rational food shape is a sphere. Rectangles are just easier for the engineers to make.

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Seriously though the most rational food shape is a stick. A stick lets you have an arbitrarily large piece of food which nonetheless can be fed into the human mouth one convenient bite at a time.

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founding

The nebulosity of 'rational' rears it's nebulous head!

But as long as we're playing, the most rational food shape is 'none', i.e a bag of nutrients fed thru an IV. Stick shapes are acceptable for portable food stuffs tho.

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There's a company doing a range of real meat "IRISH BEEF PRODUCTS, MADE WITH 100% NATURAL INGREDIENTS" called The Farmer's Daughter (real daughter of real farmer). Maybe we should try getting them together with The Butcher's Son and see what shakes out? https://www.tfdaughter.com/ourstory

"The French fries almost, but not quite, managed to taste like real French fries. I have no explanation for this. I have no reason to think that vegan restaurants make fake French fries. I don't even know what making fake vegan French fries would mean. Yet they were still slightly off."

It could be whatever oil they are frying them in, and/or how they do it. Also the variety of spud used. Or maybe they just do really bad chips, not everywhere can do them right.

Differences between Irish chipper chips and British chippy chips: Seemingly, Irish chips are fried in vegetable oil because that is what the Italian immigrants who ran the first chippers used. British are divided between frying in lard (pig fat) or beef dripping as traditional fats, though vegetable oils are more common nowadays.

"The wasabi mayo was an interesting taste, and the vegan chicken was somewhere between inoffensive and actually good. Crave's Goku impressed me less - either the BBQ sauce wasn't quite as good at distracting from the fake meat as the wasabi mayo, or their fake meat was lower quality."

I'd definitely put it down to the wasabi mayo, wasabi gives everything a zing (and will clear out your blocked sinuses to boot).

"The sweet orange and spicy ginger dishes somehow managed to be a fully generic food, a sort of everything and nothing all at once. It came in little rectangles and tasted like the abstract concept of eating something."

Would that be tofu? Seems to me if you're going to do vegan Chinese food, tofu instead of some other fake meat is your go-to choice because of the long experience of cooking with it. The Chinese/Asian takeaways around here that offer vegetarian/vegan options offer tofu versions of the beef/chicken/pork/duck dishes.

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There's also a place called the Butcher's daughter - mostly in NY but also Venice, CA.

I wonder if they're all related!

https://www.thebutchersdaughter.com/

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I just want to express my somewhat unpopular opinion that it's stupid to give meat-based names to vegetarian/vegan alternatives. You had no choice, I know, they do that and you're reviewing them.

But calling seitan blobs "Vegan meatballs", "Vegetarian chicken nuggets" or "Louisiana Hot Links" is just confusing and detrimental to people that want to order real meat AND people that don't want to order real meat. It's that kind of "universal stupid".

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Naming a vegan product contrived to imitate the taste and texture of meatballs “vegan meatballs” is hardly confusing ...

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You think this until you buy "Quorn chicken nuggets" in a foreign country and only realise at home that they're made of seitan.

Call them vegballs. Neatballs. Anything that doesn't deliberately try to cause confusion.

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author

I think "plant-based chicken nuggets" or "imitation chicken nuggets" is the best of both worlds here.

I had the opposite problem once - I bought "100% vegetarian" chicken only to learn it was chicken that had been fed a 100% vegetarian diet.

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It's a step in the right direction, but the way I am... I'd just like the word "chicken" to leave if no birds are involved in the recipe.

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I'm ready for “100% stellar remnant” chicken

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"All-natural" contains no supernatural ingredients!

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"Made of genuine poultry corpse"

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Just to confuse things and probably prove your point, I’m pretty sure Quorn products are made of fungus 😂

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In France it is illegal to use on vegetarian substitutes words that are normally used for animal products, like “meat”, “milk”, “butter”, “mayonnaise”.

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That's just stupid IMO...

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