Let's Face It: The Future Is Vegan
My friend once told me a joke: “A medic, a rower, and a vegan walk into a bar. Who tells you first?”.
My immediate answer, of course, was the vegan. No matter how commendable their mission, no matter how pious their intentions, and no matter how good their food actually tastes (Quorn scotch-eggs are a gift from the gods), vegans continue to be deplored and shunned. If there’s one thing that people hate, it’s a do-gooder, and a mouthy one at that.
The goading hashtag of #eatlikeavegan that accompanies saintly and ‘so-aesthetically-pleasing-it-hurts’ Instagrams of “Buddha bowls” filled with quinoa, avocado, kelp and the likes, is not only an infuriating practice, but is also something that is completely redundant. Who cares if you’re a vegan and you’re eating that? I’m a meat eater and I can eat that and more so HA.
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However, the time has come to stop ribbing on our plant protein fuelled pals. Aside from all the sickening moral arguments that we all agree with, yet just don’t like to listen to (the environment, the animals, etc. etc.), soon vegan alternatives will not only taste, look, and smell exactly the same as meat and dairy products, but they will also be cheaper – and if money isn’t a motivation for jumping on the bandwagon, I don’t know what is.
Spot the difference
The usual complaint against vegan alternatives is that they simply just don’t taste the same as the real thing. Quorn sausages are rubbery and flavourless, and the various crusty and all-too bohemian milk variations (soya, almond, hazelnut, coconut, rice) won’t complement your brew but downright destroy it. Apparently, there’s even something called ‘vegannaise’ (vegan mayonnaise), which sounds more like an airborne disease than something you should be smothering on your bean burger.
However, in a world where we’re able to send gin ingredients into space in order to give them added pizzazz, there is plenty of brain power – and money – to go about creating meat and dairy free substitutes that taste on par with the real thing.
In the near future, meat-free substitutes will be just as good – if not superior – to actual meat, begging the question as to why we will need to continue consuming actual animals. In 2016, The Herbivorous Butcher was USA Today’s reader’s choice ‘Best Food & Drink Maker’, and the fact that the public (and the American public at that) crowned this meat-less butcher (what an oxymoron) of their own accord, instead of being pressured suggests that substitutes are well up there in taste quality with their slaughtered companions.
If you could consume something that looked, tasted, and smelt like the real thing, why on earth would you choose to harm another living being instead?
Interestingly, in some ways this practice of ‘if it looks like a duck…’ is also being rolled out into the world of sex, with sex robots and other freaky A.I. cum-bots beginning to attract our carnal attention. If we can get on board with sticking our bits into a piece of silicone in order to have some kind of relief (there’s even a sex-robot brothel in Gateshead – but that is the north after all), a Quorn chicken fillet really shouldn’t phase us.
While facts often fall on deaf ears (“if the world went vegan, 70% of greenhouse gas emissions could be cut”, but bacon…), the prospect of identical vegan products might just be enough to sway people to the dark side.
Save a penny…
Not only will meat substitutes taste just as delectable, but they will also probably be cheaper. Although many will continue to propagate a red-blooded diet, with the need for grazing land far exceeding the actual space available, our meat and dairy products will increasingly rise in price.
Just imagine: no three meat products for £10 at ASDA, no more 89p sausages, and no more McDonald’s saver menu (though can we really call Maccies’ patties ‘meat’). The status of meat will resort back to the days of Henry VIII, when having a chicken drumstick, no matter how grisly, would have been considered the epitome of ‘fine dining’.
Proving that substitutes can be just as affordable, ASDA have begun selling their vegan cheese (yep, it’s a thing) for £2 per cheese-free pop. Don’t all rush at once…
As veganism continues to grow, there is no reason why the future won’t include cheap, cheerful and tasty vegan products to fulfil consumer demand. Not only will we have a lighter conscience, but a heavier purse as well.
Viva la revolution
Like it or lump it, the change has already begun.
Although it’s easy to scoff at the self-righteous piety of vegans, most of us have already started to dabble in their cuisine. Not only do I know countless people attempting ‘Veganuary’ – a word that would be better suited to describing some type of gynaecologist – but I myself opted for a vegan meal last week at Camden Market and I’m pleased to report that my plantain, pomegranate, and rice creation was delicious, thank you very much.
However, it’s not only arty-farty markets that have started to take the revolution upon themselves. McDonald’s have also recently announced their break into the vegan market, with their very first McVegan creation – a vegan soya patty, which, believe it or not, really is covered in vegannaise. Available in Finland and Sweden (those Nordic countries always were light-years ahead of the rest of us), McDonald’s creation marks the mainstreaming of veganism.
Plus, the growing successes of vegan companies such as Hampton Creek and Beyond Meat (both of which see investment from Bill Gates), alongside statistics that show that Germany’s vegetarian options have increased 600% in the last few years all serve to suggest that people are already moving towards the vegan future, whether they’re aware of it or not.
Even men’s magazine GQ – who would stereotypically be associated with fat steaks, juicy ribs, and sizzling bacon – voted a vegetarian burger as its “best burger of the year” in 2015 for Christ’s sake. While vegetarian isn’t technically vegan, once the wheel starts turning it’s hard to stop.
The winds have changed, my friend, and they’re no longer wafting around the mouth-watering scent of barbecued meat, but the godly aroma of plant-based proteins. The veganifying process has already begun.
Weirder things have happened
The idea that we might all suddenly see the light and start caring about the environment is no more preposterous than the idea five years ago that Donald Trump would become President of the United States – though admittedly, The Simpsons kind of saw that one coming.
While empirical and historical evidence may point towards the fact that the human race is more self-destructive than those little suicidal lemmings that suddenly decide en-masse to run off cliffs, we really don’t seem to have many other options.
With the days of meat being as cheap as chips coming to a close, the prospect of meat-substitutes tasting even better than their blooded counter-parts being on the horizon, and the increasing practice of vegan options becoming a mainstay in even fast-food restaurants, it stands to reason that, like it or not, the future is very much vegan.
If you can’t beat ’em…
Images via iStock / GIPHY / Instagram / ASDA / Getty Images