Mind Over Meat


It’s been so challenging to find humanely-raised meat that about 90% of our meals these days are meat-free. I’m not complaining. Legumes, nuts, tempeh, and eggs have picked up the protein slack. With so many palatable protein alternatives, I don’t even glance at the faux meat on the vegetarian pages of Chinese restaurant menus (“Kung Pao Chicken” made from textured soy protein, anyone?). Aside from tempeh chili, here are some things I was pleasantly surprised to discover are just as good, or damn close, when meat-free:

Burgers: An Amy’s All-American Vegetable Burger on a bun or English muffin with cheese and ketchup… well, you coulda fooled me. This company must have an army of food psychologists doing focus groups.

Chicken soup: I use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Add matzoh balls, onions, carrots, celery, even a handful of noodles. It still tastes great.

Seasoning: This is a big game of make-believe, but I don’t care. My cousin Amy, who keeps kosher, introduced me to it. (The laws of kashrut forbid mixing meat and dairy, so meat must be avoided at dairy meals; more on kashrut later.) There’s this meat-free, but meat-flavored, boullion powder sold by an Israeli company called Osem. Judging from the size of the containers, it’s plenty popular in kosher homes. Want “beef” broth in your French onion soup? Osem. “Chicken” noodle soup? Osem. Straw spun into gold? Osem. Naturally, it’s chock-full of artificial whatever, but I’ll take it.