I’m a part-time vegetarian. I leaked this information to a friend recently and she was a bit taken aback. I guess I can understand. Since the catalog and website I lead are full of pig parts and a bacon club is our best seller it’s probably easy to imagine I'm powered by pork 24/7. (Please don’t tell bacon that I don't eat it every day, it might get jealous.) If you ask around in the food industry, though, you’ll find I’m not even close to unique. There are many closeted part-time vegetarians among us. My streak of vegetarianism tends to run during daylight hours. It’s rare I eat meat before dinner—virtually every lunch I have is all vegetables. I’m also a huge fan of restaurants that do vegetable dishes well (when restaurants start to figure this out I predict it'll be a powerful trend).
I still love a good debate with vegetarians about their life choice. There are many reasons why but mainly it comes down to the fact that vegetarians, on the whole, think about what they’re eating more than most of us. Since a large part of my job is thinking about eating they’re usually engaging folks for me to discuss food with.
All this is a long walk to get to my point: meat envy. The foods pictured were at two markets in my neighborhood but you could find something like them anywhere. I knew about tofurkey but I'd never heard of beefless sliders or vegetarian chicken. Prepared packaged food sold as vegetarian has a horrible tendency to market itself with meat envy. "So good it tastes like meat!" Why do these companies insist on selling to vegetarians like they’re losing out, that they can be happier if they just ate vegetables that looked or tasted more like animals? No vegetarian I know thinks like this, it feels foolish to sell this way.