If i told you, my new fake radiohead record was out and you could listen to it, you’d probably either a) not listen to it, or b) listen to it and tell me it sounds nothing like radiohead. However, if I tried to make the music a little more unique, and didn’t mention radiohead, but rather said ‘my band’s new record is out. If you like radiohead, maybe you’d like this.’ then our efforts become judged on what it is, and not, what it isn’t.
And this is the problem with vegan burgers. The effort of the chef is compared on what it isn’t (a hamburger) and overlooked for what it is (an actual food item that took time to prepare). So we see reviews of how this vegan burger doesn’t live up to the hype, or this one does, rather than reviewing whether or not things are actually good.
And then there is the ‘imitation game’ issue. When vegans cook these imitation things, we are missing an opportunity to put our efforts into creating a new food culture, one uniquely vegan. For instance, there are dishes, lets say a safron rice and veggies, that are inherently vegan, where adding meat may take away from the experience. From the point of the person tasting it, they may fall in love with what that dish IS. Which is a much stronger pull than loving it for what it ‘almost’ is.
Ultimately, vegan cooking, for a long time, has been about converting non-vegans to veganism, so it’s been about meeting people half-way, with veggie imitation items. But isn’t it about time, we look at making strong unique dishes that taste fucking amazing and pull people based on that, rather than trying to appease un-easy meat eaters?
Just a thought.