By meat-substitute, I mean something that is intended to look or even taste like meat, without being meat, such as Quorn.

Being a Vegetarian, people constantly ask me "Why would you eat something that looks/tastes like meat, I don't see the point?"

To me, I eat things like Quorn because I like the taste, not because it's meant to replicate meat, though this answer rarely satisfies the person asking the question. So I wondered why others might eat meat like food.

Why would a Vegetarian/Vegan eat something intended to replicate meat?


3 Answers 3


(icluding vegans when I speak of vegetarians)

There is no contradiction between being vegetarian and liking the flavor/texture of meat. There are many reasons for stopping to eat meat, only one of them is not liking it. For example, for someone who became vegetarian for ethical reasons, meat might even be their favorite food, but they consider their pleasure when eating meat to be less important than the ethical treatment of animals.

Even vegetarians that don’t especially like the flavor/texture of meat might eat meat substitutes, for various reasons:

  • The meat substitutes aren’t necessarily similar in flavor/texture to meat. They are their own kind of food, another option among many.

  • When someone cooks for non-vegetarians, it might be easier for the cook to just replace the meat with a meat substitute, instead of changing the recipe or cooking something else. The same goes for people who start eating vegetarian: most of the recipes they know contain meat, so they can start with keeping everything the same except for replacing the meat with meat substitutes. And food is part of many traditions, so vegetarians might prefer to keep the tradition alive by cooking something where the meat is replaced with something similar in looks/taste/texture.

  • Vegetarians might try various meat substitutes so that they are able to recommend products to their peers (who think about becoming vegetarian; who just started to be vegetarian; etc.).

  • Shops might not have a big variety of vegetarian convenience food, so a vegetarian might get what’s offered.

  • Thank you so much for this explanation. When I get asked this question, I can feel like that person is trying to catch me out like a hypocrite. I know I'm not, though I always fail to find the words to explain my stance, your answer has helped me a great deal, thank you. Apr 24, 2018 at 7:26
  • 2
    I sometimes eat meat substitutes simply because they often have a good balance of nutrients. Commonly, the main ingredient is soy, and cooking tofu is a tricky skill to master, so frozen meat substitutes are a convenient alternative. Plus, it’s always nice to have variation in what you eat. Meat substitutes allow you to do that. Meat substitutes can have the same main ingredients, yet still come in a variety of textures and flavor profiles.
    – SquidInc.
    Apr 27, 2018 at 7:01

For me, I don't like being left out. So if I can sit down with my friends and also have a burger or sausage roll that looks like meat then I don't feel left out. I'm vegan for the animals not health or taste so I don't mind if my food is unhealthy or tastes similar to meat. Also, when substitutes are similar to meat it encourages omnivores to try out the vegetarian/vegan food and maybe even prefer it, which is always great in my opinion!


Whether carnist, vegetarian or vegan, not everyone is at the same level of cooking skills. Making the transition from say a processed foods meat eater to a whole foods vegan is a substantial learning process. So having access to prepared substitutes eases that path. A similar transitioning process could be considered when using substitute milks. As with meat, there are many meals (cereal breakfast as example) which seem to require a milk substitute because people adhere to what for them has become a traditional meal format. I will try to find a reference about the history of bacon in advertising, it illustrates how one specific ingredient starts to create a traditional mindset about meals.

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