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October 5, 2012: Why itís silly to argue over the taste of meat substitutes

Originally posted on this blog.

Last month I wrote an entry about meat substitutes, and why there is nothing wrong with consuming them. Today Iíd like to look at another issue thatís often discussed regarding these products Ė their taste.

Iíve heard many times that veggie hot dogs and hamburgers taste nothing like the real thing, and that, generally speaking, their taste is inferior to that of real meat products. While a carnivore may (or may not) complain about the taste of a veggie hamburger or hot dog, I, for example, would pick the taste of a veggie-burger any day over that of a real burger. Part of me wants to convince carnivores that this is because there are more and more veggie-based meat substitutes that do taste fantastic. These days, these products are not only bought by vegetarians and vegans, but by more and more meat eaters. Iíve had many veggie burgers in many restaurants around the world and most of them have been very tasty.

Still, I feel a little torn making this argument. While I donít want to sound like Iím agreeing that meat substitutes taste "worse" (I think Iíve made it pretty clear that this is not the case), as an Effaist I also feel the need to remind people that taste is not the key element here. When allís said and done, this shouldnít be a taste contest. To put it bluntly, real burgers are made from the flesh of murdered animals, while meat substitutes are not. Real burgers are a product of the meat industry, which is responsible for killing millions of innocent animals daily, while meat substitutes are not. Avoiding meat represents progress for humanity, while eating it does not. Ultimately, these are much more important considerations than taste. True progress comes when we realize that the unmistakable taste of dead flesh actually represents an immense amount of animal suffering and is best left behind. What's more, any person who really cares about animals will gladly sacrifice even more taste than he or she has to in order to progress to a more ethical life. This is the right approach, and the reason why, ultimately, it is pointless to argue about the taste of meat substitutes.

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