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Natural Expo West Part II: The Meeat

This weekend I travelled to Anaheim, California to avoid Disneyland at all costs and attend the Natural Products Expo 2012, a whole convention center full of vegan peddlers. In the first chapter of my epic journey I told you about all the cheeeses that turned my tum into one big fondue pot. Now for Chapter Two: Meatless Technologies!

Meet Your Meeats

Hodo Soy

I told you about Hodo and their most delicious tofu products last year. This year, they had a new item called the v-EGG-an Salad. It’s a Vegan egg salad. For some dumb reason that’s me being dumb I missed tasting it but VegNews Magazine gave it one of their Best Of Show Awards, so it must be super good. Learn from my mistake, if you see it, try it!

Sophie’s Vegan Seafood

Sophie and her kitchen make faux fish products from a Japanese root called konjac. New this year are Vegan Crab Cakes and Breaded Vegan Scallops. I tasted both, but I never liked seafood, even a million years ago (appx), when I was zero to tween and not yet vegetarian. But my brother, a SuperCarnivore said the Crab Cakes were good and that is saying A LOT. Five or six years ago I had to pay him a dollar to taste one tiny sip of soy milk. So if you miss the fruits of the sea, give these a try!

Turtle Island Foods

From the makers of Tofurkey and those Sweet Italian with Tomato and Basil gourmet sausages I love so well, comes a ground beef product also available in chorizo style! They gave us whole tacos to try and they were tasty. If Soyrizo is too spicy for you (it’s spicy!) then this stuff will be a better fit.

Manischewitz

From Matzo to meatless burgers! Years of indentured Hebrew schoolitude left me skeptical of these Veggie Grillers, but I was forced to admit that my people can cook. These were some good patties of the “garden patch” variety, but they were savory, not sweet, which is what always annoys me about them. Available in regular and mini sizes, they would be a nice frozen product to add to the rotation.

Field Roast

Field Roast is like the Ferrari of fake meats. Their products look good, cost a lot, and go down fast. New to their product range is a line of deli meats (Wild Mushroom, Lentil Sage and Smoked Tomato) and frankfurters. They were giving out half a frank to people like me and I enjoyed it. I didn’t get to taste the deli slices, but the flavors sound interesting, don’t they? Way more gourmand then a hot dog.

Upton’s

I also finally got to try Upton’s Naturals! CORRECTION: They were NOT at the Expo last year, so I’ve been intrigued by reports of their snazzy seitan products for awhile. This year, four flavors were available: Traditional, Ground Beef, Italian Sausage and Chorizo, I tasted the Italian. Now any SuperVegan knows it’s not necessarily the meat but what you put on it, so while it’s great that they’ve grown enough to be able to exhibit this year, they still have a ways to go– just some ground beef in a cup is a tough sell, but that said, this was quite good. I want to try more like, IN stuff! Seitan, when done well, is my favorite form of protein, so it’s nice to have a ground beef replacement made of it instead of soy. Next year can you show us how to take those crumbles and form them into a solid burger? Then I think your booth would be more popular than Fabio’s (yes, Fabio.).

Gardein

Gardein is everywhere all of a sudden, aren’t they? I think they own all the land surrounding Daiyaville. They had more new products than most other companies had in general. 9 new products! 5 new frozen ones: beefless sliders, zesty marinara crispy chick’n fillets, terriyaki chick’n strips, lightly breaded turk’y cutlet, and southern BBQ riblets.

4 new refrigerated ones: meatless ground, homestyle beefless burger, classic BBQ riblet, and all american sloppy joes.

I got to try a slider, which tasted just like their regular burger but smaller, and the terriyaki chick’n strips, which I was surprised to like. I normally don’t care for the sauces Gardein marinates their meats in, but this one was fine, though I only had one bite. Future products include a breakfast pattie, and, let’s hope, the retail release of their commercial chick’n breasts.

And, in Vegan Gossip, I gave a couple booths hell, just cause. I chatted with the Morningstar Farms “chef” about why they can’t take those pesky egg whites out of their products. When? When will they do that? And even though he said he has been working hard to (he claims over 30 products are now secretly vegan like all the chicken ones), the company’s lawyers won’t take the egg off the ingredient list for fear of litigation. He said they have fights about it internally, all the time. But when I asked him about the bacon he said, “Oh no, those need egg whites for texture.” Boo. Hiss. I also voiced my displeasure to Lightlife, whose new veggie burger is not vegan, and Justin’s Nut Butter and their non-vegan candy bar.

That’s a lot of non-meat meat! Which one are you most excited to try?

Check back for Chapter 3, Desserts!

6 Comments

  1. Comment by

    Nicole from Upton\'s

    on #

    I think that you may be getting Upton’s Naturals confused with another company, as we were definitely not at Expo last year. This was our first year exhibiting. We typically sample our seitan on its own as seitan is still such an unfamiliar product for people and we want them to get an idea of exactly what is coming in the package that we are selling. When we sample with support products, people are often confused. Sorry that you did not enjoy our booth set up. We are pretty new at this and were really happy with how the weekend went and the great response we received.

  2. Comment by

    Andrea

    on #

    OOPS! Thanks for your comment, Nicole! I corrected the article, and would be happy to chat privately with you about my experience in your booth, which of course I did enjoy.

  3. Comment by

    Nicole from Upton's

    on #

    Thanks for making the correction, Andrea! Feel free to email me anytime!

  4. Comment by

    Nicole from Upton's

    on #

    Sorry, I thought it would link my email in the comment: nicole at uptonsnaturals dot com!

  5. Comment by

    veganmatt

    on #

    I get that cruelty-free meat substitutes are exciting for many vegans/vegetarians nostalgic for what they likely grew up eating, but is vegan ‘meat’ really so exciting that it deserves any extra vowels? (i.e., meeat) I grew up thoughtlessly eating meat/dairy/eggs, but these days, give me tempeh over a faux sausage any day! :)

    That said, thanks for covering the Expo!

  6. Comment by

    Bethany

    on #

    What about Vegetarian Plus? :)

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