I am a vegetarian and have had a long standing quarrel (mainly with myself!) about what many are asking: why give up meat and then search endlessly for food that not only looks like it (faux hotdogs) but smells like it and sometimes tastes like it?
This comes into play for me in particular with the nemesis of quite a few ‘veggies’ I know, the overused mushroom. No, I don’t like them, I don’t think grilled Portobello mushrooms taste like steak, and if I wanted a steak I’d eat one! But it is true that some vegetarians do miss steak, and they will seek the texture at the very least, and this is one of the reasons why I cannot escape mushrooms in veg dishes. Often chefs, home cooks, think we miss meat, they are also trying to feed a variety of people often at the same time. And often want to add protein and/or texture to a dish for nutritional and taste reasons.
These shops and products are really about finding alternate sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans as well as flexis, this search can be frustrating for some of us. I love cheese, it is one reason why I am not vegan, but it us nice to have other, fairly convenient sources of protein.
These purveyors also recognize that many meat eaters will eat plant based protein if presented in a certain way and if it tastes good! In some ways these shops and products are more about and for them than us veggies. Personally I tend to not want or need my food to look or taste like a sausage, others do. But I am intrigued by the variety and inspired by what this offers to chefs and cooks. The best thing about this trend is being able to share a sandwich with a carnivore, not having to worry if there is nothing on the menu for my meat eating friend. If it encourages variety, and we break more bread together, and opens dialogue, it is feeding more than our stomachs.