While the plant-based community is incredibly supportive and kind, it (ironically) isn’t always the best place to go for meat and dairy substitutes that taste like their meaty counterparts.
Despite having pure intentions, someone that cannot recall the taste of most animal products might not be the most reliable source of recommendations for someone that’s curious about transitioning to a plant-based diet and looking for products to wean them off of meat and dairy. In an effort to find some accurate reviews (and have fun!), I decided to ask my meat-and-dairy-eating boyfriend to compare my favorite animal-product substitutes to the actual animal products.
Silk Almond Milk
Prior to meeting me, he had developed an affinity for the ever-so-popular Silk Dark Chocolate Almond milk (And who can blame him?). Because I’m a Silk milk aficionado (Who isn’t?), I decided to have him try my go-to milk substitute, without the chocolate.
His response: “Although it is by no means a proper substitute for milk, especially in baked goods, it does not retain the taste or texture of real milk.” (To which I quickly replied that “cow’s milk” is the proper term for dairy milk.)
Contrary to popular opinion, Daiya cheese is my favorite plant-based cheese alternative. I’ve been known to eat an entire package in one sitting; this article isn’t about my opinions, however, so here’s what he said: “It has almost no taste and the texture of plastic.”
We tried these for the first time together. I can’t remember the last time I tasted a hot dog, so I thought they were fairly accurate.
He said, “Honestly, these taste and feel like a cheap hot dog. The outside crisps really easy when cooked, and they’re really small.”
Field Roast Sausage
For as long as I can remember, I have absolutely loved these sausages and expected him to feel the same way.
He thought, “These were all right in a pasta meat sauce but on their own kind of bland.”
In my (actually quite popular) opinion, Beyond Burgers perfectly resemble the taste of an actual hamburger. Because I’ve only ever discussed this with people that (usually) cannot recall the taste of red meat, however, I was incredibly excited to see what he thought.
He said, “This one is marketed as tasting like a real burger. It doesn’t, but it’s close.”
Earth Balance Butter
In this instance, we put this on English Muffins (which I cannot recommend enough) and he used it to make Eggs Benedict.
He thought, “For sautéing things, it’s fine. It doesn’t whip like real butter does, so it’s bad for Eggs Benedict. Somehow it tastes more like butter than real butter but in a weird way.”
Follow Your Heart Vegenaise
Before I gave up dairy, mayonnaise was my favorite condiment. This opinion has earned me much slander (which annoyed me at first, but I have long since accepted), but has given me a (hopefully) lifelong love of Follow Your Heart’s dairy-free mayonnaise.
He said, “Out of everything on the list, this was the most indistinguishable from the real thing. It tastes and looks essentially the same as real mayonnaise.”
Gardein Black Bean Burger
Even though black bean burgers aren’t considered meat substitutes, I still wanted to include this one. Instead of asking him to compare Gardein’s black bean burgers to meat hamburgers, I simply asked him what situations would compel him to choose a black bean burger over a meat hamburger.
He said, “Because this one doesn’t taste like a burger but isn’t trying to, I like it. When I want the toppings of a burger without the unhealthiness of beef, I might choose a black bean burger.”
Date Night In Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Earth Balance Butter, Bob’s Red Mill egg replacement and dark chocolate chips)
Despite this not technically being a plant-based substitute, I considered it to be an important inclusion. Date Night In is our favorite cookbook, so we decided to use it to make our own vegan version of chocolate chip cookies. In regard to how the cookies tasted compared to the non-vegan version, he said, “…tasted really heavy on flour, but maybe we just added too much flour.”
Halo Top Birthday Cake Ice Cream
I’ve heard exclusively positive reviews of Halo Top from non-plant-based eaters, which gave me the encouragement needed to give some to him. He said, “[They] tasted like they photocopied ice-cream.”
You can tell him how great vegan substitutes are on Twitter here.