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I Tried It: Meatless Ground “Beef”

By now, we all know that eating countless amounts of meat plays a factor in climate change. Some believe that we should stop entirely and adopt vegetarian diets, while others take a more measured approach. I have tried going “cold turkey” but usually revert to meat eating ways for various reasons. That said, I’m still trying to do better and substitute whenever possible. My family enjoys tacos and pasta bolognese, so when I saw these “meatless crumbles” I thought I’d give it a go. Reader, it wasn’t for us.

As said, I stumbled upon this option accidentally and decided to try it. We had tasted this company’s “burger” a few years back and abandoned the meal after a few bites. But a friend said she liked the crumbles, and I remembered this advice when I saw the product, so thought I’d go for it. My first plan was to make tacos but then realized I didn’t have taco shells, but did have manwich sauce (gourmet, I know) so went that route instead. I actually thought the manwich sauce would be a good option, because it would add strong flavors that I already liked.

The experiment started out strong. You prepare these crumbles like you would any other ground beef – in the skillet over medium heat. With meat, you know it’s cooked because the color changes, but there’s no change here so I wasn’t sure when it was done. At the same time, there’s no risk of salmonella, so that a comforting factor. I just read the instructions, set the kitchen timer and hoped for the best. It was easy to cook and the texture was very similar to ground beef, but there was a displeasing smell. To be perfectly honest, the “meat” seemed like it had been washed in ammonia or something similar, which is ironic considering that factory farm beef is sometimes processed that way. The manwich sauce, as expected, covered this off-putting aroma and I sat at the table feeling pretty good about what I was serving.

My husband took one bite and spit it out. He noticed the difference right away and refused to eat it. (Please keep in mind that this is a man who enjoys all kinds of cuisines, and isn’t a strictly meat and potatoes kind of person.) I thought the sandwich was fine and finished my meal. Does it taste exactly like beef? No, but pretty close and the texture is similar. Moving forward, however, this product will likely not make a reappearance at home. If I’m the only one who’ll eat it, and it’s not something I can make in single-sized portions, then I’m not going to bother because I don’t want to be wasteful.

I had shared this product on our Instagram stories before I started, and some people responded with other product ideas to try instead. For now, I will continue to limit my meat intake and work on focusing on other real foods such as beans, lentils, nuts etc. While better for the Earth, I’m not convinced that these processed fake-meat products are necessarily better for me than meat that has been properly raised. Perhaps I should try Hannah’s route and just eschew both options entirely. If you have any suggestions, please share away. I’m always looking to try new things in hopes of helping the Earth! – Rachel

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