Mock meats are often a point of confusion for non-vegans trying to understand where vegans are coming from. After all, if we've given up meat, why do we relentlessly pursue the best imitations of it? The answer is pretty simple: many of us grew up on animal products and enjoyed them as much as anyone does! That was certainly the case for me. I realized as a teenager that eating meat didn't match up with my views on using animals (namely, that we shouldn't), but that didn't change the fact that I enjoyed the taste.
Of course, not all vegans are into the mock scene. There are those who never liked meat to begin with, as well as those who avoid processed soy/wheat gluten products for health reasons. Personally, I do think it's probably important not to overdo these types of foods...but I sure appreciate that they exist, for the sake of occasional indulgence. And there's no doubt they can help die-hard meat-eaters transition away from animal products.
So, where to go in New Orleans to procure some tasty faux meat? Thus far, the only restaurant I know of is Kim Son, a Chinese/Vietnamese place in Gretna. I'm guessing this isn't news for many of you New Orleans vegans, as it's been around a long time, but it certainly deserves a mention. A whole page of the menu is dedicated to veg options, including some really fabulous faux. Johnny and I went the other night with my parents, and we stuffed ourselves silly with several vegan dishes.
We started out with some spring rolls; pretty good, with noodles and veggies and tofu on the inside (I thought I'd bitten into some fried egg at first, but it turned out to be tofu). I won't include a picture; if you've seen one spring roll, you've seen 'em all.
Next, I tasted my mom's Hot and Sour Soup -- thick and very flavorful:
Johnny and I ordered a couple of main dishes to share. The green beans with sesame seeds were pretty tasty, and just the right texture for him (I'd have preferred them a little crunchier):
And at last, the processed deliciousness that we'd been looking so much forward to, vegan General Tso's Chicken:
This stuff is incredible, folks. I will warn you that one time we went, it seemed they'd refried an old batch of the "chicken" -- it was really not up to par -- but every other time we've gone, including this one, it's been AMAZING. The kind of thing I'd eat all the time if I weren't concerned about my health!
Apart from Kim Son, we meet our faux cravings thanks to Whole Foods. One of our favorites is Vegan Citrus Spare Ribs (by Vege USA):
And for mock chicken, don't bother with any other than Delight Soy Nuggets/Patties:
...which are used to make all manner of delicious vegan meat treats in the Prepared Foods section of the store. (Try the "sweet chili soy nuggets" as pictured above, or the "vegan buffalo chicken salad"!)
Finally, there's a new name in the frozen aisle: Sophie's Kitchen. This brand specializes in vegan seafood products, which is certainly a useful niche for New Orleans. We tried the "fish" tonight, and sadly, it was just ok. Still, I'm looking forward to trying their "shrimp" next.
Last but not least, there's always the home-cooked faux, such as an incredible recipe for Mustard-Crusted Seitan from one of our favorite cookbooks, Yellow Rose Recipes. Johnny made it the other night, and I was still thinking about the taste hours later. As you can see below, we had it alongside collard greens and mashed potatoes:
So, readers, what N.O. faux options am I not aware of?
*P.S. Thanks Dallas Vegan, for the sweet chili soy nuggets photo that I posted above!