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BUYING GUIDE TO
MEAT ALTERNATIVES

Consider this. On the advice of a doctor, a woman concerned about the health of her meat-loving husband orders 35 cases of (vegan) Boca Burgers. Apparently he loves them for, shortly afterwards, she orders 35 more. Is this a vegan fantasy? No, my friends, it is not. It happened. And if I tell you that the doctor is Dean Ornish, the woman Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the consumer of no fewer than 140 Boca Burgers, the President of the United States, then one can only reach one conclusion: fake meat has arrived.

What exactly is fake meat? Well, for the purposes of this article it's anything that has a chewy texture, (possibly) a smoky, burnt flavor and provides a dish with the full-bodied weight or heft that unreconstructed meat eaters say they couldn't do without. We do, of course, have something of a definition problem here: for those who don't like the idea of meat in the first place, referring to one's food as "fake" makes it sound likea mere substitute for the real thing, Perhaps they're right - that it is something of a fraud that perpetuates the idea that where there's meat there's mirth, and that meat's the genuine article, it has strength, real flavor....

But wait a minute! I know the President is not known for his self-restraint, but anyone who eats 140 Boca Burgers is having himself a great time. After all, it can work the other way round: perhaps President Clinton simply enjoys the fact that he can have a great tasting burger with no cholesterol, no fat, and few calories. In some ways, vegetarians are pulling the rug out from under the feet of those who claim that the only reason they can't give up meat is that they just love its taste and feel between their teeth. So, what ever you feel about the "fake" issue, meat alternatives offer a great way for people to make the transition that might just save that cow or pig. Here, then, is the rundown of the offerings, the tastes and where to find them.

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