The Jealous vegan is raising The dialogue about plant-based lifestyles while being honest about the benefits and challenges of sustainably changing the way that we eat & how we think about food.

Meat Alternatives: The Substitution Saga

When I tell people about my plant-based journey I often get the response “I need meat” or even better, “humans need meat to survive.” But that’s not true, now is it? If that were actually true, vegetarians and vegans wouldn’t exist...because they would all be dead! We don’t NEED meat. Many people live long, healthy lives without the consumption of animal products. What humans do require is a balanced and diverse diet. Meat is an easy way to get a bundle package of a few nutrients that would otherwise take some food cocktailing; the same way you could take vitamin A, C, and D separately or take a multivitamin. That said, we at The Jealous Vegan do not dogmatically discourage meat consumption! Personally, I still eat meat but have been consciously trying to cut out meat from my diet. That brings me back to my thought.

If meat isn’t a true need, why are we always looking for it?  So much so that we’ve come up with meat alternatives. But why? Why can’t we just accept plants as plants and meat as meat without trying to make plants meat? Let’s just be real, whenever a non-meat eater says “it tastes just like chicken” we all either silently or audibly laugh. I personally end up thinking “well clearly you’ve never had chicken.” I still haven’t seen very many plant-based meat alternatives that actually taste like anything good. So far my favorite meat alternative is the Beyond Meat Plant-based Burgers. They are delicious! I keep them in my fridge and they are a great quick meal when I’m feeling lazy or I have failed to prepare properly. Actually, that whole line has some great meat alternatives. However, other than that brand, I've been really disappointed with the meat alternative options. Which lead me to a thought: If I am in the process of giving up meat entirely, why do I feel the need for a meat alternative? I know I’m not alone. These companies exist because people generally “need” a meat substitute when transitioning to a meatless diet, but why? Is it because we feel that will be protein deficient without it? The thought of it made me laugh out loud. If you feel protein deficient without meat, yet seek out a plant-based meat alternative to fulfill your protein needs, couldn’t you have just eaten the ingredients contained in the meat alternative to fulfill your protein needs? Plants DO contain protein and when combined properly and eaten in the right amounts you can get all the protein you need from plants and grains. So lack of protein should not be the reason. Is it a texture issue?  Do you crave the texture of meat? Honestly, I doubt that, although I've heard people say that. But even if that were true most meat alternatives are not the same texture as animal meat and will leave you unsatisfied in your quest for texture. So what really is the underlying issue? Could it be that we are so conditioned to believe that meat is an essential part of a balanced diet that we have a hard time rebooting our brain?

One thing we know as a fact is: humans are creatures of habit. I once read that when you move to a new place you tend to be more tired. Not because of the physical activity but because of the brain power exerted when you have to create new habits. The things that you could previously do routinely and without thinking now require more concentration. Maybe your coffee pot is in a new place, which means that you now have to be alert to make sure that you are doing things properly. No more half sleep coffee making in the dark. Because of this, we look for ways to make things feel familiar. The brain is actually wired to create and follow the path of routine. Which is why if the coffee pot was next to the fridge at our old place, in the new place you’ll end up putting it next to the fridge. See what you did there? The same is true of your diet. We are looking for foods that are familiar, recognizable and comforting. After all, diet change is nothing more than habit change.   

That’s exactly why we have created this space. We at The Jealous Vegan understand how hard habit change can be. We applaud all those who want or need to change their habits and we are here to support you. Together, let’s change our habits and change our lives for the better!  

If this post resonated with you, you'll love our upcoming podcast...

Our upcoming podcast, Meat Substitutions, is destined to be lively and provide more dialogue and thought-provoking reasons for navigating plant-based transition.  Sign-up to our newsletter to be notified when the podcast is available.  (Scroll to the bottom of this page to sign-up.) Meanwhile, you can check out the most recent conversation on plant-based in our podcast section. May we recommend Episode #3: Our Origin Story?  It's lively, hilarious and full of #realTalk.

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