how did i only find this just now? what a great thread!
i've been vegetarian for eight years. since i left home and could control what i eat. i also lived with a vegan for seven of those years, so, out of habit, i often eat vegan, though i could never live without cheese!
i personally love fake meat products and the closer to meat you can get it to taste, the better. i realize from reading this thread that that grosses a lot of people out, but i will try to explain. for me, not eating meat is a political and a personal choice. political because i believe that animals should be respected and our meat industry, for the most part, raises animals and slaughters them without any concern for their welfare, only concerned about american's insatiable appetites and profit. now, i know that you can eat free-range chickens and angus beef, etc etc, but that's too hard for me and i'm lazy. and, living in san francisco (home of health food stores - i have two within walking distance, three if you count tj's and farmer's markets) i have no problem getting fresh fruits, vegetables and plenty of packaged fake meat products for cheap. it's a personal choice as well, because i definitely believe that humans are carnivores and need some nutrients found in meat to be healthy, so i don't lecture people or look down on their choice to eat meat. i believe it's natural!
now, i try not to eat too many packaged products because they have a ton of preservatives and i prefer to eat fresh veggies and get my protein from beans and tofu (did you know most health food stores sell bulk, fresh tofu, rather than the packaged kind?). but, we all get busy, lord knows, and it's nice to be able to pop something in the oven or microwave and be done. so here's some of my favorites:
-soyrizo. yum! i have definitely found that if you cook based on the package instructions, it will be mushy. i usually just fry the hell out of it, without stirring, for about ten minutes, then flip it. it will brown up like meat, but you have to be patient...
-quorn. i like these products, the cutlets are great just microwaved and wrapped with some greens and hummus in a tortilla. they are not
-dr. praeger's. you are so right star217, they are amazing. and they're not trying to taste like meat, so if that turns you off, these are great. i sometimes eat these plain with some veggies, just like one would eat meat - without the bun.
-primal strips. when i am shopping hungry and know that it'll be a while before i eat (need to cook the veggies or soak the beans or cook the rice), i get one of these and they are delish. i have no idea how they make this, but i think it's made out of wheat gluten (seitan).
-trader joe's meatballs. these are a go-to protein source when i don't have a lot of time. try them in pasta dishes or in stir-fries.
-field roast sausages. these are really, really good. great to bbq. i'm not a huge fan of the other fake hot dogs (because, you know, hot dogs aren't that good...) but these are meaty and hearty. i always take them when i'm going to a meat-eatin' bbq.
-gimme lean ground sausage. (http://www.lightlife.com/product_detail.jsp?p=gimmeleansausage
, though i usually buy it in the tube...) by far the best and most realistic of the meat substitutes. my family makes a breakfast casserole every year for christmas and i've gotten them to use this for the past three years. they love it - better for you and tastes, seriously, just
like ground sausage!!! we also use it in our sausage/cornbread stuffing recipe. yum yum yum!!!
so that is what i've got. i have a ton of great recipes for non-packaged items, and by far the biggest hit is when i make seitan. it's so much fun, freezes up well and from it's most basic form, can be made to taste basically like anything and can be cooked in SO many different ways. i love it!!
(sorry so long - i have a lot to say apparently!)