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
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 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!
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.
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 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.
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 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!