Vegan diets get a bad rep from carnivores and herbivores alike. They think that it’s bland and boring, or that tofu is the only way to get protein. People also assume that those who follow this diet just want to be trendy or they must be overzealous PETA advocates.
As a vegan myself, I get frustrated with people who have instant judgement on vegan food before they have even tried any. Even if you get people to try vegan foods, they judge them based on those initial assumptions that all vegan food is gross and it’s hard to please people with this mentality.
Because of this, I wanted to do a little experiment on non-vegans to see whether they could tell if a product was vegan or not.
I gathered three of my carnivorous friends and told them I was conducting a taste test on new food items for Spoon. I told them nothing about whether the products were vegan or not, I just offered free food and they came running. I had them try four different items: yogurt, cheese, burger patties and ice cream.
Kite Hill Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt
Lucy: It’s smooth… Palatable. It’s actually very good, it tastes like normal yogurt and I would eat this on a normal day. It’s definitely more solid than normal yogurt.
Toby: Strawberry ‘n shit. It tastes different from normal yogurt. It has a stronger taste, kind of tingly. It definitely has an aftertaste.
Selena: It tastes like Dannon yogurt with a weird aftertaste. Basically, it tastes like yogurt up until the last two seconds.
Daiya Cheddar Style Slices (in Grilled Cheese Form)
L: Interesing… Very sticky and it clings to my mouth. It’s a bit overpowering and I don’t think I would buy this one.
T: Smells and tastes like a grilled cheese. This one also has an aftertaste, a sour one. I’m not too picky, it’s a grilled cheese and it’s good.
S: This tastes like cheese and it’s less stringy than other cheeses. It tastes pretty good actually.
Beyond Meat Beast Burger
L: This has a lot of flavor, it’s good. It reminds me of pretend meat, but either way I would still eat it. My mouth says this is meat, but my brain says this is not meat.
T: *takes burger and stands it up vertically* This burger can stand up on its side. This does not look or smell like real meat. It’s not what it’s supposed to be, just give me vegetables, don’t give me a “meat” patty. *does not finish it*
S: This burger does not cut like a regular burger and it also does not taste like one, but it doesn’t taste bad. I would still eat this.
Almond Dream Ice Cream
L: I would buy this all of the time. 5000 Stars, it’s really good.
T: This has a weird coffee flavor, very artificial. It’s fine, but this also has a weird aftertaste.
S: This is delicious, you can never go wrong with coffee flavored anything.
After I told them that I was feeding them vegan food, they weren’t incredibly surprised. They all knew me too well and expected a vegan to feed them vegan food.
Despite that, their opinions were generally positive about the food. They all enjoyed the taste yogurt and especially the ice cream, I mean, how you can go wrong with ice cream?
They also enjoyed the taste of the grilled cheese. All of the “dairy” products went over pretty well, and the interesting thing that all of my friends pointed out was that all of the “dairy” products had a weird aftertaste, which was quite indescribable other than that it wasn’t good. Sadly, I wasn’t able to taste it since I have been a vegan for too long.
When it came to the burger patty they all instantly knew it wasn’t real. They could tell by the taste and texture, which most vegan companies have had a difficult time trying to re-create for their meat alternatives.
Before the taste test began they were all neutral about vegan food, and afterwards they were all still pretty neutral. They felt that if they were to go vegan they would probably eat less of the “mock” and “alternative” foods and instead eat as many vegetables as possible.
They also said that vegan can have a negative connotation, so if they know that it’s vegan then they instantly make assumptions about it. Usually, assuming that its going to taste terrible.
Like I said earlier, people get it in their heads that being on a vegan diet or eating vegan food is gross. Sure, sometimes it can be, especially when it’s the food created to imitate other foods; however, that’s not what being a vegan is all about.
There is so much more beyond “soy chick’n” or “cheddar style shreds.” I mean, have you tried pasta or peanut butter and banana sandwiches? They’re vegan and pretty damn delicious.
Many vegans, like myself, eat a diet of mainly whole grains and vegetables and love it. So, next time something is labeled as vegan, don’t be discouraged to try it, because you’re definitely missing out.