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I've found that many pre-made fake meat (vegetarian "burger" or "sausages") products are very expensive relative to other foods. Are these necessary for a vegetarian diet?

What alternatives are used for protein sources or bringing to social occasions (such as barbecues)?

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No, these fake meats are not necessary for a good vegetarian diet. In my opinion, they are mostly not tasty, fatty and not healthy. Also, heavily processed food, like they often are, reduces the positive effect a vegetarian diet has on the planet.

There are tons of great vegetarian bbq recipes in the net. I especially recommend stuffed mushrooms or pepperoni (add chickpeas or lentils). Most often than not, meat eaters loved them. Or baked (sweet) potatoes for something more classic.

For me, the main downside is that it takes way longer to prepare than simply pulling some (fake-)meat out of a plastic package.

To occasions other than a bbq, I often bring vegetarian "sushi".

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No, meat substitutes are not necessary nutritionally or socially or otherwise.

Grilled vegetables are great at a BBQs!

The following items are great on the grill. Either put a fine metal mesh over the grill to prevent it from falling through (easy) or put them on skewers:

Onion, tomato, mushrooms, corn (on the cobb), asparagus, squash, zucchini, etc

All of these whole foods have protein that are sufficient to meet the average person's nutritional requirements.

When catering to a huge number of people, I'll often make carrot dogs, which are crazy cheap (buy those 10kg bags of juicing carrots) and cook-up super fast on the grill. It sounds odd, but they're really quite tasty. Most meat eaters that try them love them :) Don't skip the liquid smoke!

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Of course they are not necessary. It really narrows down to how you're going to arrange your food.

If you refuse to eat fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and beans, then you would probably need something to compensate for the missing elements. When consuming variety of whole plant based foods, both raw and cooked, you don't need to have any replacements.

These fake meats/substitutes aren't expensive anymore. Perhaps there are some brands that are famous or are still considered high quality in sense of taste and nutrition, but most of them are still cheap. Especially if you take into consideration that there aren't any subsidies for these, unlike meat/milk products.

Also, you can always make your own 'fake meats' out of basic ingredients. For example, to make seitan, all you need is flour. It is the same for the rest, where you just need to learn the skill and have few trials & errors. With the right combination and spices to your taste, you can have something that looks, feels and tastes similar to meat for a very cheap price.

Remember that the Veganism means stopping all unnecessary harm to the animals. So if these fake meats are going to be a choice for some people over meat, it is already good enough. Ecology and nutrition comes afterwards, and all these brands/products are a bit different. Some are considered real 'junk food' and they aren't hiding it and other are carefully sourced (often clean, organic and fair trade) taking into consideration the health benefits of each ingredient.

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"I can't believe it's not meat" products are absolutely optional. Good protein sources include dairy (especially cheese), eggs, or legumes. But there are other things than proteins that vegetarian diet may tend to be low in, such as vitamin B12 or some trace elements like iron, zinc or selenium.

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  • Welcome! Do faux-meat products contain those other nutrients (B12, iron, etc.)? – Erica Oct 31 '20 at 13:21
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You don't need anything but whole plant-based foods and making sure you have diversity on you plates in order to get all the nutrients. Meat replacements are just an alternative for people that find it difficult to ditch the animal products' taste. Most of them are not necessarily healthier, but they are an easy first step towards veganism.

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