• Sumo

One of the biggest battles we as vegetarians face on a daily basis is the reminder that meat can and does usually taste pretty darned great. Sure, you may be a vegetarian based purely on taste preferences, but more likely you’ve either sworn off meat because of health reasons or animal rights reasons, and both are perfectly legitimate. But what if you could have your chicken and eat it too, so to speak? What if there was a way to make what appears to be chicken without actually harming a chicken? Is vegetarian chicken better than the real thing?

First, you may be wondering whether this is all a hypothetical question or if there really is such a product that looks like chicken, tastes like chicken, and is the closest one can get to chicken without actually harming one personally. And thankfully, yes, multiple brands of faux chicken exist, such as Gardein or Quorn, so we can safely stay out of the mythical realm and keep ourselves firmly grounded in the current world.

That said, being firmly grounded in this world ensures that we have to consider what’s happening to real chickens every second of every day. There’s no need for the usual sob story as you know darn well what’s happening, and you either take offense to it or you don’t. The fact of the matter is, the majority of chickens are raised in poor living conditions, injected with antibiotics and in some cased growth hormones, and have chronic joint and bone pain as a result of growing large so quickly. That’s just a fact of the poultry industry, though a further question is whether smaller farms raising chickens naturally are also at fault. But we’re not here to debate specifics like that as we don’t even have to.

See, with imitation chicken, not only are we getting the taste, we’re also getting the texture, or at least we will be soon with products like the imitation chicken from Savage River Farms. Most fake chicken products are made with either soy or mushrooms, and as you’d guess, both contain less fat than the real thing. Soy protein, by the way, has also been proven to lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, so that’s just an added bonus.

So the question really comes down to taste preference at this point. Is vegetarian chicken better than the real thing? In terms of reducing animal deaths? Yes. In terms of environmental conservation? Also yes. In terms of pure taste? It’s debatable, but the overwhelming answer seems to be yes s well. We live in a great time where it’s possible to have an entire chicken burger with all the fixings and have it be entirely free of any meat product whatsoever. So who’s up for a barbeque?