Meatless in Miami: To Analog or Not to Analog?
Fair enough for some, but I like to think about it more in terms of logistics: the shape of the burger is convenient, it fits on a bun, is easy to handle, etc. Why can't I have a patty made of not-meat? As far as taste and texture are concerned, some are so close to the real thing they require double-takes.
More important is that any chef will tell you the majority of a food's flavor comes from the spices, rubs, marinades, and cooking methods. These days, there's not a whole lot of difference between a regular and a soy-based chicken nugget. Years ago, for a project in a college business class, I put together a proposal for a veggie drive-thru. I brought in fake chicken nuggets with dipping sauces for everyone to try, and the teacher could not believe they were faux nugs of tasty glory.
Health-wise, the pros of veggie meats are that they're lower in fat and saturated fat, and they contain fiber, which meat never has. On the con side, veggie meats tend to be higher in sodium, though most people don't consume analogs two to three times a day like a meat-eater. Then again, I've also heard of meat-eaters who put a veggie burger on top of a meat burger just for extra protein, nutrients, and to cut down their meat consumption. To each his own!
Here are some of my favorite commercially available analogs. Feel free to comment and/or share yours below:
Lightlife's Gimme Lean Sausage: Available at most Publix supermarkets, this comes in a tube for easy shaping into breakfast patties, and there's a ground beef version. These sizzle on a skillet, scarily close to the real deal.
Field Roast Grain Meat: This ridiculously tasty line of meat substitutes makes slices, sausage links, and a football-sized roast filled with stuffing that is delectable when sliced and takes only a fraction of the effort of any other Thanksgiving option. Right now, as far as I know, Field Roasts are available only at Whole Foods or online.