Are “chicken style pieces” with no chicken Real Food? Are “beef crumbles” with no beef good for us, even if they have no soy? What is “Quorn meat”?
Before you read further, please promise me you will use your good manners.
I know this issue tends to get people riled up, but remember we are all learning together. I’m looking forward to an interesting discussion in the comments, but I only ask you to be kind. 🙂
Now as you all know, I don’t believe that a vegetarian diet is the best way to eat, but I also don’t think that what I believe matters much to someone who has made that decision for whatever reason. Yes, I wrote that post about the exhibit that had me all irritated, “Are Meat-Eaters Ruining the Earth?”, and I will share my thoughts with anyone who asks, and even with those who don’t here on the blog, but I certainly hope I do so respectfully. And remember, one of my very closest friends (Sonia) was a vegetarian up until recently, so there’s no way I’m going to slam vegetarians.
Here’s the story…
The last couple weeks on Real Food Wednesday there have been some pretty bad recipes linked up that included high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and fake food colorings. As Lisa, one of the commenters there, said, “It’s obvious they just slapped up their link and never even read what kind of recipes you were looking for with this blog carnival.” (Even more irritating is that often they are also the ones with no link back…)
And then there were the entries from Kristi that I wasn’t sure what to think of…
Kristi is a sweet Mom who happens to be a vegetarian trying to please her family that includes a husband who is not a vegetarian, and “two undecided kids”.
After all that set up, now I’ll share with you an email exchange/comment trail between Kristi & I and others on the blog recently.
It started when a Real Food Wednesday commenter, Kelsey, questioned some of the “meat” in Kristi’s recipe that she linked to RFW…
- Kelsey: “I think the position of this website is that soy is not good for you, plus it’s probably GMO. Long story short, no fake chicken please!”
- Kristi: “Ah, I see now, that’s the unfermented kind. I think that would make tempeh the only definitely “OK” fake chicken (tempeh is fermented soy). As for the Quorn “chicken” I don’t know whether that’s in the GMO category. It’s mycoprotein, derived from mushrooms… Here we go: Quorn says (and I don’t think there’s a way they could lie directly about it) — ‘Are Quorn foods genetically modified? No. All Quorn products are made with GMO-free ingredients.’ So, that means for vegetarian ‘chicken’, Quorn cutlets and tenders would be OK, and for vegetarian ‘beef’, Quorn ground beef crumbles would be OK, at least if I’m understanding the real food rules correctly.”
- I emailed Kristi: “You're awesome to look into this like you have and because you CARE to make sure your ingredients are good! I hope you won't hate me, but I deleted your link when I thought it was not fermented soy…did you say the Quorn actually IS fermented soy?? If so, please link up again and I'll leave it there this time! I just want to be sure that my readers who are coming here looking for real food find what they expect. Hope you understand!!!” (Even if it was fermented, later I was thinking about how processed it must be, though, to resemble “meat”…)
- Kristi: “That's OK Kelly, I completely understand. It's a little confusing even to me and I guess I know a bit more than most about it. Here's the breakdown from what I can gather: Vegetarian beef: Quorn is Micoprotein, which is basically mushed up mushrooms (not soy at all)…I'm unclear on the whole process, but the company says it is not GMO. As for fermented soy fake beef products, the only one I know of for sure would be tempeh beef crumbles and some of the ground round stuff that's made of tempeh (which is the fermented soy). Vegetarian chicken: Quorn is OK, non-GMO, non-soy. And then you have a whole variety of tempeh “chicken” that is also OK by your rules as far as I understand them. The only fake chicken that would be not OK (I think) is probably the Morningstar Farms kind, which i believe is regular soy (and to be honest, tastes super gross and mushy too). I hope that helps. I didn't know all that about the non-fermented soy, so that's a big help to me, too. I'd heard a few of the hormone issues, but wasn't sure what to think of it all and had just been on a sort of ‘consume in moderation’ path. Thanks for the information.”
- Me: “You are so sweet and gracious. You know, if it's OK with you, I'd like to maybe post our conversation here on the blog sometime and get everyone's thoughts on all this. I love to do that as a way to gain more information because by the time everyone chimes in, we usually have a pretty well-rounded look at the issue when we're done. Just a warning though, this topic can get pretty heated…”
- Kristi: “No worries, I have pretty thick skin. 😉 Older siblings break you in quickly. Thanks again for the information, Kelly, and let me know if you need anything else. I'd be glad to answer any questions about mysterious vegetarian products if anyone has any. They can be daunting, I know.”
- After all this another comment came in…
- Melissa: “Just to clarify, Quorn is a highly processed fake meat derived from soil mold that has to be processed to make it safe to eat. Apparently metabolizing the food could create compounds that cause gout. Fun. Check out the wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quorn.”
So here’s where I’d like you to jump in and share your thoughts. Real Food or no? You probably know where I fall on this one, but let’s hear what you think?
Kristi, thanks for your willingness to let me post our conversation. 🙂
Kristi Arnold began her career as a photojournalist in 2001. She has been the editor and all-around newspaperwoman at several community newspapers in the Midwest as well as the Atlanta metropolitan area. She began her career as a stay-at-home mom in 2009 and has since been striving to satisfy her non-vegetarian husband and child with meat substitutes and “fake” versions of family favorites. With the addition of her second daughter in 2010, the cooking critiques are sure to become even more complex over the next year. For each day in 2011, a different recipe will be attempted. The standard family recipe will be converted to a vegetarian-friendly version. From past experience, some of these conversions will be fantastic surprises, while others will be epic failures. Kristi’s blog: www.VeggieConverter.com.