Tonight, we had a few friends over for an impromptu dinner. Typically when company comes over, Jane goes all out and prepares a more formal meal something akin to the Valentine's dinner that we had recently. But tonight we ate what we would've eaten if Jane was just cooking for the two of us. We had pasta with "meat" sauce and a large salad.
Jane's cooking was as tasty as ever - no surprise there. As always, our salad was fresh from the farmer's market adorned with our usual delicious dressing. What was surprising was our friends' reaction to the pasta dish -- they loved it! They couldn't get enough of it. These were omnis raving about pasta with faux meat sauce! They couldn't tell it wasn't made from beef.
The pasta sauce was a very basic red sauce -- a couple of cans of Trader Joe's Marinara Sauce, diced onions, a dash of olive oil, and vegan meat -- Yves Meatless Ground Round Original. This Yves product is a very authentic ground beef alternative that is readily available in the refrigerator section of many supermarkets here in Southern California.
I really like the taste of this Yves product. However, it is a processed food and has a long list of ingredients, some of which are multi-syllabic, fifteen-plus letters long. There may actually be nothing wrong with these ingredients, in fact, they may actually be healthful (i.e. pyredoxine hydrochloride, or cyanocobalamin -- which both appear to be in the B vitamin family). But I don't like having to research the chemical additives in my food.
Jane and I don't discuss the fact that we are vegans with all of our friends. In fact, a fair number of them are not aware that we are eating in this manner. It's not like we're hiding anything; we just don't want to be constantly challenged or questioned by everyone about every decision we make. You know... "How long do you think you'll be eating this way?" "Why are you depriving yourself?" "But where do you get your protein?" "Don't you miss meat?" It all gets a little tiring. So we had no intention of mentioning that pasta sauce was made from vegan meat (and therefore we took no pictures of our meal because that would have necessitated a discussion about our vegan blog).
But sometime, long after we had all consumed our dinner and were onto the dessert course (fruit salad - comprised of pineapple, asian pears, raspberries, and some new variety of orange we picked up this morning), one of our friends asked us when we started eating beef again. (We've been off red meat for over twenty years.) And suddenly we found ourselves discussing our vegan lifestyle.
I don't think we converted anyone tonight, but we proved to a few people that eating meatless isn't some bizarre and awful thing. And who knows, maybe these friends will try it at home sometime.