Saturday, January 22, 2022

Pea protein? Sounds delicious??

 HALLIE EPHRON: Have you noticed how the recipes that turn up these days in newspapers and magazines are vegetarian? Steak and fish and pork chops are taking a backseat to lentils and beans and pasta and celery root and potatoes. I've been fascinated but wary of the plant-based meats that show up in the meat section of the market.

Last week I bought a package of Beyond Sausage - Italian spicy sausage made with pea protein. No animal gave any part of itself to make those links. And, an added bonus, the package they rested in was recyclable cardboard, not the usual gonna-be-here-for-centuries Styrofoam they use to package "real" meat.


The ingredients list: Water, pea protein, refined coconut oil, sunflower oil, natural flavor, contains 2% or less of: rice protein, faba bean protein, potato starch, salt, vegetable juice (for color), apple fiber, methylcellulose, citrus extract (to protect quality), calcuim alginate casing.

No gluten. No soy. No GMOs.

So of course I worried: did that mean "No taste"? And with water as the #1 ingredient, would the "sausage" brown and caramelize?

I decided to try some in a lasagne. I make mine with no-boil lasagne noodles, tomato sauce zuzzhed up with sauteed sausage and mushrooms, layered with ricotta cheese, parmesan and mozzarella. Nothing fancy, just basically following the recipe on the no-boil noodles package.


I'm here to report: I am a convert. The "sausage" did brown nicely. I chopped it up into bits and it added a meatly texture as well as good flavor to my sauce. The lasagne was excellent. I wouldn't have guessed the "meat" in it wasn't meat. Reheated it was still good. Frozen and thawed and reheated? Still good.

If I want a barbecued steak or seared tuna or turkey wing, I'm still going to opt for a dead animal. But I'm happy to report that I'll have no problem cutting back on how much actual animal meat I'm eating. Good for me. Good for the planet.

Have you been enticed by the no-meat meats? What about the plant-based chicken or egg or dairy substitutes?  What do you think?

81 comments:

  1. We tried some plant-based sausage [I don't remember the brand]; we were quite disappointed and the sausage ended up in the garbage can. We've done better with having meat-free meals, but we haven't quite managed to find the wherewithal to try the plant-meats again . . . .

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    1. I was skeptical, too. If I want a vegetable I'll eat a real vegetable, not one tarted up to be a meat. Still...

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  2. I am not enticed by those products, until either of my sons and their wife/girlfriend are here. Vegetarians all (well, except for older son, who will eat meat away from home)! They get very creative and are excellent cooks. The fake chorizo is delicious, for starters. I am suspicious of some of the fake meat products because they are so chemically altered. Your non-sausages sound pretty straightforward, which is good.

    I was a vegetarian in college - all my friends were, too - but back then it was soybeans, tofu, legumes, and lots of cheese. We studied balancing our amino acids, even, to get a complete protein.

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    1. Right, beans and rice, as I recall, make a complete protein.

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    2. Diet for a Small Planet, right?

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    3. And the Moosewood Cookbook, from right where I was going to school, Ithaca, NY. Big ole slabs of tofu or granulated TVP. Good times, good times.

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    4. The Moosewood Cookbook is my vegetarian soup Bible! Best soups ever!

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    5. Moosewood, Diet for a Small Planet, Laurel's Kitchen (all of which are still on my shelves)--just thinking about those books is like time travel!

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  3. I am a carnivore and have not yet been tempted by the slew of new fake meats on the markets.
    I have seen the Beyond Meat products here but have not tried them. A few years ago, I did like using Yves veggie ground round instead of ground beef, to make chili at home (pre-nightshade allergy).

    Not sure you can get this in the US, but GUSTA sausages are getting rave reviews in Canada.
    https://gustafoods.com/en/products/sausages/
    They are made from wheat protein, though.

    INGREDIENTS
    Water, wheat protein (gluten), non-GMO canola oil, maple syrup, apples, sea salts, dehydrated vegetables (onion, garlic, mushroom), apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, yeast extract, spices.

    During the worst of my allergic food reactions in 2018, I also had to give up dairy for several months and switched to drinking almond milk or oat milk. We don't have as much selection as in the US for dairy alternatives but Silk or Earth's Own are my preferred brands.

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    1. I'd have a harder time giving up dairy than I would meat. "Cheeeese," she waxed rhapsodically. Tofu is something I've ever learned to cook with but enjoy out. I get confused looking at the choices in the market.

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    2. Hallie, try sauteeing firm tofu in olive oil and lots of garlic, then add a splash of soy sauce. SO good!

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    3. HALLIE: Fortunately, I am able to eat cheese again, but I now prefer using almond/oak milk and coconut yogurt instead of milk-based products.

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    4. I'm with you, Hallie, on the confusion over tofu. The stuff swimming in milky liquid doesn't look appetizing at all.

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    5. HALLIE: I am no tofu expert, but I do know that the different textured tofu are used for different types of dishes. Maybe this link will help:
      https://www.house-foods.com/eat-happy/tofu-101

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    6. Edith - serve the garlic sautéed tofu over soba noodles. Yum! I haven't made that in years!

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    7. Tofu benefits from either freezing (after thawing it is sturdier, more meat like and soaks up sauces) or pressing to get the excess water out of it.
      Dusting with cornstarch encourages a nice crunchy exterior.

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    8. I'd really love to get my hubby to agree to eat tofu. I just saw a recipe in today's Washington Post for tofu friend rice with crispy broccoli, so since he loves broccoli and fried rice I thought I'd give that a try.

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  4. We do not use many food substitutes, but actually do eat some Morning Star Farms products. Their Spicy Black Bean patties make nice sandwiches with a slice of cheese and tomato on a bun or English muffin. Otherwise, we are meat eaters.

    However, I can make a Kosher meal, a vegan meal, a vegetarian meal, a pescatarian meal, a gluten free meal...just give me time to plan it. When it comes to food allergies or dietary restrictions or food preferences, just let me know before the shopping trip to the grocery store.

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    1. Judy - my husband and I like those Spicy Black Bean patties too.

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    2. Spicy black bean patties! We used to go to a Mexican restaurant that served them. Really delicious.

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    3. Hallie, I love Trader Joe's frozen Cowboy Burgers. They are made from quinoa, black beans, and red peppers, and are one of my favorite lunch options. I just put one in a little non-stick skillet and heat until crispy on both sides.

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    4. Those sound great, Debs. Thanks for the heads up!

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  5. Hallie, I second your recommendation for this particular brand of non-meat sausages. I discovered them in a local shop one Sunday morning after a long bike ride, when we wanted a 'hearty' breakfast with a friend but restaurants were closed (Covid). They cooked up nicely and were very satisfying.

    I agree with Edith that many non-meat meat inventions are highly processed and, thus, to me suspect from both a taste and a sustainability perspective. Tofu is our old standby. I make a dish I call 'tofu fingers' that slow cooks thick slices of tofu in a free-poured mixture of tamari (or soy) sauce, diced ginger and garlic, a splash of oil and some water to dilute the tamari a bit. It's the slow cooking in a pan on the stove top that imparts flavour into the tofu. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed and tofu has been browned a bit, then serve over rice with veg of your choice.

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  6. Those actually sound pretty good, Hallie. Thanks for the review.

    When I met Steve in 1978 I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian, and I'd eat fish and chicken on occasion. Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet was my bible, and I used both the cookbook from that series and the Arrowhead Mills cookbook for most of my no-meat meals. Marrying a decided carnivore put a stop to that, but over the years he has come around to having meatless dinners a couple times a week.

    By the way, isn't the "complete" protein beans + rice + dairy? That wouldn't help vegans, but I think there are many more available protein sources now than combining foods, or by using tofu. I tend to stay away from most packaged foods, especially those with arms-long ingredients lists of unpronounceable words.

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    1. Coincidentally, there's an article in the NYT this morning about vegan travel options.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/21/travel/vegan-travel.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Travel

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    2. Yes, the rice and beans need a bit of dairy to complement them. Diet for a Small PLanet was our bible in college!

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    3. Edith, I didn't discover it until a bit later, around age 24, I think. It really changed how I saw the world.

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    4. My intro was Mollie Kazan's The Enchanted Broccolli Forest Cookbook... spicy black bean soup made with orange juice (sounds awful but it's fabulous) served warm or cold with sour cream. Haven't made that in ages.

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    5. The recipe for Molly Katzan's black bean soup is also in the original Moosewood Cookbook, called: Brazilian Black Bean Soup. Fabulous!

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  7. We don’t eat a lot of meat substitutes, as we’ve been veg for 30 years and my daughter had never eaten meat. But every once in a while that burger or sausage sounds good. Beyond and Impossible have made it possible (sic) to get that fix even at a fast food joint.
    The Beyond nuggets at KFC come with amazing fries!

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    1. Fried chicken is something I'd have a hard time giving up if I turned vegetarian.

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    2. Susan, my youngest daughter's boyfriend, Guest Son, varies between veganism and vegetarianism, but he SO missed fast food burgers. When the Impossible Whopper came out, he was a happy guy. Every time I go to Bangor to visit them, I stop at a BK and pick up a meal for them.

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  8. I’ve had a flexitarian way of eating (semi vegetarian ) for decades now. Like Edith, I learned to balance the amino acids to get non meat proteins and balanced meals.
    When I eat meat, it is in small quantity and only once a day. It is often in comfort food like chicken pot pie or meatloaf made with lots of vegetables .
    It doesn’t tempt me to eat false meat, if I crave meat, I eat meat.

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    1. Danielle, that sounds like me. In my case, it started though necessity - I was feeding a family of five and couldn't afford a hunk of meat as the main portion every meal. So most of my dishes used meat as a flavoring rather than as the centerpiece. As they grew up and left, I've switched to more and more vegetarian-ish meals. For instance, I'll make my own chicken broth, freeze it, and then use it in many otherwise vegetarian soups.

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  9. Our son brought us the Beyond Sausage hot Italian sausage and even my meat loving husband was converted. We've bought them repeatedly. Yes, they brown nicely.

    Beyond Beef is good too for burgers. Husband thinks it tastes like beef. I can't remember what beef tastes like - I was vegetarian for decades, then included fish and poultry.

    Back in the day, it was Tofu Pups and Not Dogs and Morningstar Farms fake burgers, chicken patties, and breakfast sausage. The pea protein items are an improvement.

    The Beyond Sausage bratwurst is a bit bland. We eat it as a breakfast sausage.

    One (or more) of the pasta companies makes raviolis with Beyond Sausage Italian sausage. Nice to see the trend spreading as eating vegetarian is easier on the planet.

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    1. Speaking of pasta, the garbanzo bean and lentil pastas have much higher protein than wheat-based ones, and they are gluten-free. Have you tried those, JC? My hairdresser turned me onto the Banza brand, and it is really good.

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    2. KAREN: I am still looking for a good alternate pasta. I have tried the Chickapea and Gogo quinoa pastas and have been disappointed. Will search for the Banza brand online.

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    3. Karen - thank you for that information. Never heard of Banza but I will look for it. We have tried the Explore Cuisine Risoni. I like the chickpea. My husband likes the red lentil. I like the way they cook up sort of creamy like risotto, and we use them instead of white rice. Much more nutritious, I think.

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    4. UGH, pass on Banza. $18 for a 8 oz box (on Amazon)? I hope you don't pay that amount in the US.

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    5. Wow, that's ridiculous, Grace. No, nowhere near that. It's around $3 a box here.

      Maybe we could arrange to ship you some, or you could pick some up when you come to the US--Malice, maybe?

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    6. KAREN: $18 was the cheapest price, it went as high as $34 for a single box of penne!
      https://www.amazon.ca/Banza-Pasta-Chickpea-Penne-Oz/dp/B00XXOY4QQ/ref=sr_1_6?crid=23WPSYZ61X2Y8&keywords=banza+pasta&qid=1642867871&sprefix=banza+pasta%2Caps%2C548&sr=8-6

      I am still scheduled to go to LCC in early April. Never thought I would add pasta on my list of items to bring back from the US, but we'll see.

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    7. I love the idea of Grace crossing the border back into Canada after LCC. "Anything to declare?"
      "Yes, I have twenty boxes of garbanzo-bean pasta."

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    8. Thanks for the tip, Karen! We usually eat whole wheat pasta but happy to try something different.

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    9. You're welcome. Be aware that the directions call for a lot more water than other kinds of pasta.

      Julia, that made me laugh twice already today!

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  10. Flexitarian here. When I cook for the retreats, I use and cook using vegan products. At home I do eat meat sparingly. So far, still alive. Many of the members of my Sangha are vegetarian. While cooking at the Center, I have asked pure vegetarians their opinion of the new generation of imitation animal protein. Most say that they have not tried it. I have used the beyond meat label and also eat impossible burgers from Burger King.

    Verdict? 21st century processed vegetables no longer have the chemical aftertaste. I could not tell the difference between beef and fake beef in the burger. However I have old taste buds, so YMMV. My caveat is cost per pound. Unfortunately animal protein is still lest costly than processed protein.

    Hallie, the dairy cheeses and milks are okay. The texture is similar, the cooking end product looks like cheese. The scent is close depending on the cheese but not quite there yet. A plus for the milk products, is the shelf life is twice as long as for animal milk.

    We are slowly moving towards less suffering and healthier living. As someone famous used to say "this is a good thing".

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  11. I am a carnivore, born and bred.

    And I will stay that way until the day my heart explodes from that one last greasy bacon cheeseburger. If I'm going out, it isn't going to be with fake food in my stomach.

    There's this absolutely stunningly beautiful woman I know. Everything about her is perfection in its purest form. And then she went vegan. Now her Facebook page is an endless parade of these vegan meals she makes, some of which are shamelessly named after their real food counterparts. The problem is that they look that something I threw up or came out of a baby's diaper.

    My burger better be made from Old Bessie or we are going to have a problem. And no rabbit food on top of it either.

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    1. But Jay, tell us what you *really* think ;-)
      Hoping there's at least some fish in your diet.
      Are pickles "rabbit food" - cannot eat a burger without.

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    2. Jay, you make me think of Ross when I met him. He thought canned tuna fish counted as a vegetable because it wasn't red meat. :-D

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    3. Hallie, I do eat fish sometimes but not as often as I would like because most of the places I could get good swordfish, cod and haddock have either fallen off dramatically in terms of quality or closed. Plus, swordfish is uber-expensive in comparison to the amount you get. And for me, pickles count as rabbit food. The only thing allowed on my cheeseburgers besides bacon and cheese is mustard.

      Julia, while I do eat canned tuna fish I don't delude myself into thinking it is a vegetable. I like my tuna sandwiches to resemble a brick. But with only just enough mayo to bind it together. I can't buy a tuna sub anywhere because the shops all make it "mayo with a little tuna" style instead of the other way around.

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  12. I have had impossible burgers in New York, and they were delicious! (Although I wonder if the toppings made a difference.) I haven’t made them at home, though, and I’m less tempted because they’re not less fattening so I figured… Well, that makes them less tempting .
    I am fascinated to see all the not – chicken advertisment suddenly! And I am intrigued, but not convinced. I mean if Kentucky fried chicken has not-chicken, what are we coming to?
    But I see the theoretical environmental point.
    Beyond sausage is an easier decision since I have never had sausage, real or not.
    We do have Siete chips, which are made out of some exotic fruit rather than from wheat or corn. And they are fantastic.

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    1. HANK: I agree the Siete chips are tasty, but pricey. Good alternative if you are trying to avoid eating corn. They are made from cassava flour.
      https://sietefoods.com/collections/tortilla-chips

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    2. Going to look up Siete chips...

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    3. I adore taro chips and other veggie chips.

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  13. My son has been vegan for ages and since he travels for work he has found all sorts of interesting food items and restaurants for his tastes. He's been eating those Beyond sausages for quite some time now. But most interesting to me is the bakeries he has found. Fantastic dessert items and unbelievably using no butter or eggs.

    One time I tried making oatmeal cookies using an egg substitute you mix with water. I must have left it set too long. What a mess! I would have been much better off using applesauce instead of eggs, as I have always done before.

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    1. Judi, another egg substitute, one that provides more protein, is flaxseeds. It's more expensive, though.

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    2. Eggs are right up there for me wth cheese: hard to give up.

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    3. I agree, Hallie. I have no problem giving up meat, usually. But no eggs, butter, cream! How can I make my sour cream muffins? I have tried fake sour cream. I'll say no more about that.

      Karen, I believe the egg substitute I tried was made from flaxseeds.

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    4. Interesting, Judi. I just use flaxseeds straight out of the package, in the same amount as the fat called for. Same as applesauce. I've never had any problem.

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    5. I used a product that I think was flaxseeds. Nope, my mistake. It is called Neat Egg and is ground chia seeds and garbanzo beans. I'll have to try the flax seeds.

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  14. GMOs frighten me so I'm glad to see Beyond products don't include them. I happily use Gardien products when I can find them. Haven't tried the Beyond products yet, although I have noticed them in stores and wondered how they tasted. Given your review, Hallie, I will now.

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  15. I rarely eat beef and never buy it at the store. My meat consumption is mostly limited to chicken and ground turkey. I occasionally buy Gardein or Morningstar products and I like them. If I had the patience to sit down and plan a menu of non meat meals on a regular basis, I could give up the little meat that I do eat.

    DebRo

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    1. This is a good time to give up meat - everything but PORK is insanely expensive.

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    2. Or - and here me out - time to buy THE WHOLE HOG COOKBOOK.

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    3. Yes, the prices are crazy! But at least I can find what I want. My sister has had trouble finding chicken at her New Jersey supermarket.

      DebRo

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  16. Oh, and Hallie - one of my cats has bad allergies that affect her skin, and she's on a venison and pea protein diet!

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    1. We eat mostly venison, and rarely have beef. Or pork, for that matter, unless it's bacon.

      I wonder if you could get venison locally, Julia. There should be lots of hunters in your area.

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    2. Sigh: Bacon. So hard to give up bacon.

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  17. I admit that I'm still a bit skeptical of the meat substitutes, but my husband and I get the Impossible Burger sometimes, and it's really good. Like Hank, I wonder if the toppings have anything to do with that good taste. When I fix chili, I want ground beef, real beef, in it. However, after reading your post, Hallie, and reading through other comments, I am now open to trying the Beyond Beef and other Beyond products. I actually would like to eat healthier, so I will at least try these products.

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  18. We are not big meat eaters, and when we do have meat I try to buy from our local farms where the animals are humanely and sustainably raised. Of course this is more expensive, but I figure since we eat a lot of beans and rice and whole wheat pasta most of the time, it balances the cost.

    It's the dairy and cheese that I really don't want to give up!! And eggs!

    We have tried the fake meat, I can't remember if it was Beyond or Impossible. We had burgers and thought they tasted remarkably good. But I'm not big on eating something so highly processed on a regular basis and am not convinced it's that much better for the environment. But I am going to try the Beyond sausage lasagna, though, Hallie!

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  19. That looks delicious, Hallie! I have become a big meat substitute person. Mostly, I like tofu in my drunk noodles, etc, but I'm looking to expand. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  20. But, especially if one is diabetic, you have to look at carbs vs. protein as well. Carbs turn into sugar, protein doesn’t.

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  21. We are meat eaters but lucky to live in an agricultural area with several small producers. We have a butcher that sources local products, beef, pork and dairy. I am trying to re-train my brain away from the meat and potatoes theory with some limited success. Diet for a Small Planet, Molly Katzen and the Moosewood Collective cookbooks (is Moosewood still around?) and the Vegetarian Epicure all help.

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    1. The restaurant is still in Ithaca, but Mollie Katzen is no longer associated with it.

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  22. One of our grands fancied himself as a vegan for awhile. We tried Beyond Meat and actually liked it. Particularly the Mild Italian sausage.

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  23. I can see that not eating much meat can be healthier but not that it's good for the environment. If farmers and ranchers can't make money from the animals, they will sell them to someone who can or kill them. They can't afford to feed them for nothing. Also pastureland supports native plants and animals, and I would hate to see it turned into warehouses, housing developments and parking lots.

    I haven't tried any meat substitutes and probably won't cook with them but I might try them in a restaurant. I tried tofu but didn't really care for what I had. When I tried soy milk, I itched until I poured it down the sink. I never liked soy sauce so I use Worcestershire, oyster, and hoisin sauces instead. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables so I don't worry about eating meat.

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  24. Oh dear, JRW didn’t show up in my email yesterday but is here today so I missed a wonderful conversation. Yes I also cooked from Diet for a Small Planet and Moosewood, what great ideas there. Other than bacon, looove bacon and ham too. I try to go with locally raised meat. I don’t eat beef, it’s chicken, lamb and pork here but I do try to have us eat more veggie. I have local eggs from Tom. He texted me this week saying he had 16 doz to find homes for. I took six which I share with friends. The grandguys love breakfast with us because of the eggs.

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