Harmony Vegetarian Meats: Fake Fish, Chicken, Beef, Pork, and Shrimp

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Jacob Katel
Chef Bernie Matz, Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan, and Julio Maza at the Café at Books & Books' fifth anniversary party.
Hippies, peaceniks, and pothead philosophy majors, rejoice! It's OK to kill and eat plants. They won't scream, they don't cry, and "they don't have a soul, they don't have a spirit, they live within us, they like to live within us."

That's according to Julio Maza, president of Harmony Vegetarian Meats, a mock-meat wholesaler to restaurants and individuals in South Florida, and a great proponent of the plant-based diet.

According to the Washington Post, the Miami Herald, and Global Rhythm, fake meat was developed by Buddhist monks in China around 2,000 years ago as a way to appease carnivores living a murder-free lifestyle.

As such, Julio, who made some "Oriental friends" and became a Taoist, imports and wholesales a bevy of MSG/garlic/onion-free vegan and vegetarian products that approximate fish, chicken, beef, pork, and even shrimp.

Short Order recently spoke with Julio about his company, how fake fish is made, and where to find his products. Here's what he had to say.

"I got involved in the Taoist way of life, so I became a vegetarian. It was kind of difficult to change over because I was into meat, and so these products helped me transition. I call them 'transition products.' People who are wanting to become vegetarian, or people who just want to enjoy fake meat, the products are very tasty.

"They originate in Taiwan. Since there are so many vegetarian groups out there, they got creative, so we started importing.

"It's mainly through my website. I wholesale to restaurants and I sell directly through my website and I deliver locally so I can make it easier, I wanna make it easy as possible.

"Our products come frozen. You can bake them, use them in your daily recipes, that's the good thing about these products, that you can actually just substitute them for the meat directly. It's an alternative meat source. We have chicken, fish, ham, beef, the whole works.

"We wholesale to the Café at Books & Books, various Caribbean restaurants around town -- mostly vegetarian, like Garden of Eatin' [136 NW 62 St.], Meat and Produce, that's a store in Fort Lauderdale, Natural Vibes [2439 N. State Road 7, Lauderdale Lakes].

"I'm still working on getting into the regular, non-vegetarian restaurants. It's a real process.

We get into restaurants mainly through just demonstrating the products. For Books & Books, it was all about Chef Bernie. He's a very open-minded person, and right away he let me sample the meats to him. From then on, it was a love affair -- it was a real hit. Once you can get the products in, they're a hit. Especially with Bernie, he has a real talent for cooking. We really have to educate the people on the vegetarian diet.

"The way they do the fake fish is that it's mostly nori [seaweed] that they wrap around it to give it the fish flavor. From there it's soy, mushrooms, natural seasonings, and no preservatives. It's completely natural, plant-based food.

" have a large selection of vegan fish, vegan chicken... a lot of the vegan groups come to me looking for vegan products. I have drumsticks for barbecues, I got veggie shrimp for shish kebabs, veggie salmon... I have all the recipes on my website. My favorite one is the vegetarian chicken patty.

"Taoists believe in nonviolence, even in food. That's why they choose the vegetarian diet, because there's no killing of animals. Peace begins in the kitchen. That's one of my sayings."

Log on to harmonyvegetarianmeats.com for more info.


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