It’s a complex world out there of animal products, and Goonhammer is here to help. Whether it’s ranking the staple animal-based proteins on the market, or when a new type of meat drops and shakes up the game, we’re here for you, our loyal readers.
Look, we know what you’re thinking: This is by far one of our worst pun-based ideas. But Greg gets real pissy if we don’t let him just go to town roasting something, both literally and figuratively, every thirty days or so. And so we present: COUNTS-AS MEATWATCH
What if meat but not as much?
We’re expanding our horizons here at the Meatwatch desk, which is a nice way of saying that it’s impossible to keep me on a beat without my immediately and terminally digressing. One weird tip, editors hate it: usurp their powers for yourself. This column started off as a place to talk about meat, but we’ve taken a few turns already, and this time we’re going to address a contentious topic, one that can lead to disagreements at the table: proxying or “counts-as”. I’m here to talk about the power and the virtue of Fake Ideas.
If you want to get technical, all ideas are fake, but I’m talking specifically here about the uncanny valley, the simulacrum. If you’re living in certain parts of the world, you’re basically trapped in a simulation of your old life already, and not even in a cool Matrix way. Not that this would be worth it if we all got to wear trench coats and cyber-goggles, but being goth as hell would take the edge off, at least. Conditions in the US and UK, among others, have never looked worse, and things we used to be able to do for real, experiences we could have, are being replaced with counts-as equivalents.
I’m exactly the kind of bougie idiot that owns a Peloton, for example. Before I get roasted for this one, I am completely aware that having a two thousand dollar bike that can’t go anywhere puts me first in line for the guillotine; this is fine. It’s not a real bike ride, no, but it gets the job done. The silver lining is that when the pandemic lockdowns hit and all the gyms became a jail for exercise equipment, with no visiting hours, I went from looking like a dumb asshole for buying this extravagence, to just looking like a regular asshole. That’s progress, baby!
Your hobby hangs, or really any kind of hangs? Those are probably on Zoom now. What actual in-person interactions we might have aren’t even, technically, face-to-face, since everyone is wearing a mask. Big parties and travel are straight up not happening. Also you can’t high five or the cops will come and get you. The Horny Police aren’t even on patrol anymore, since anything they could arrest you for, the regular cops have jurisdiction over now.
This isn’t even a bad thing, by any sane estimation: there are legitimate and inarguable public goods that come from your life sucking mondo ass for a year. We have every right to be angry at the situation, and at the people actively making it worse by flaunting the rules or denying objective reality, but “taking one for the team” sure as hell beats the alternative.
So why not take it one step further, and try some fake meat? I like meat and all, but in the face of some pretty hard facts here – even if you don’t buy into animal welfare as a whole concept, there’s still the treatment of workers, the frankly incredible bulk antibiotic use that turns every factory farm into a breeding ground for jacked new himbo strains of bacteria, the environmental impact, etc – it’s hard to argue against giving it a whirl. I’m not nagging, and I’m not trying to turn you into a vegetarian. I’m not even one myself and have no real desire to be, but with everything else going on, consider cranking the meat dial down a notch or two, if you’re into it. Why not take a winger on it, now, when no one is watching?
Speaking for myself, it’s hard and I don’t want to do it, so I’ve enlisted the help of our local subject matter experts. Let’s take a trip, and look at some simulated meat-like experiences.
Goonhammer Approved: Fake Meat Power Rankings
Condit: One time some friends had a dinner party and cooked this phenomenal risotto with mushrooms in it. My sister had been invited as well, and she hates mushrooms so she wouldn’t try it. Later that night when everyone was completely drunk and trying not to fall into the pool, the host started nagging her trying to convince her that she should try it, just once, because she would probably like it, to which she responded in a voice likely audible from somewhere in Wheeling, West Virginia: “I do not want to try the risotto. I want to hate the mushroom.”
Greg: Mushrooms are an absolute banger, just incredible foodstuff. Whom amongst us does not crave victuals which are slimy and covered in dirt, torn directly from the living earth?
Greg: In a vacuum, this one kinda sucks, but the beauty is that it basically tastes like whatever you do it. Sure, in its most basic form it’s just a wet flavorless sponge, but it does fry up nice once you smash the everloving hell out of it. Much like humans, when subjected to trauma, the Tofu takes on the qualities of what it suffered. All with that sauce.
RagnarokAngel: Tofu has had a long and sordid journey on the meta circuit. I remember as a kid it being a sort of joke food, the thing kids knew was intrinsically disgusting even if they’d never eaten it before. Every piece of Cyberpunk media used it as a sign of the dystopia that everything was soy now! Nowadays you can find this stuff all over the place, it’s hit the mainstream and if you know how to cook it, it’s really good.
RagnarokAngel: Wait, we are in a dystopia aren’t we?
Liam: Tofu is basically the Ultramarines of fake meat. It doesn’t do anything that well, but it’s ok at everything, and sometimes that’s just what you need.
Beans, I guess?
Greg: This is a thing, right? People do this. With black beans or whatever?
RagnarokAngel: It’s particularly great with Mexican food, though it doesn’t aid in replicating the taste of meat or anything, it gets your protein fix in.
Liam: Even better on toast, for breakfast.
Any of the various fucked-up products that are pretending to be meat but don’t involve murder.
Greg: The mocktail of the meat meta, this is the meat version of modeling all your units with the bad option because you think it looks cool, but then using the rules for the good weapons because you want to meat-chase. I will not respect it. If you’re gonna pretend that you want to stick to a narrative, you gotta accept the consequences, buddy. There’s plenty of deliberately meatless recipes that slap dummy hard, without pretending to be something they aren’t. Use those instead.
Condit: I generally agree with Greg on this, but when the “Impossible Burger” came out I was too curious not to try it, and when one of my local burger places started serving them I decided to order one. Unfortunately, I still don’t know whether I actually like it because they served me a burger that had two patties: one Impossible and the other, by double-negation, Possible. The most alarming thing was that no one at any point, from putting this order in, to making it, to bringing it out to me, to looking at my quizzical expression when I reviewed the receipt I was given along with my food, ever once stopped to think that maybe I didn’t actually want a half-vegetarian meal or, if I did, that I was not the sort of person that they should allow in their establishment.
RagnarokAngel: You should be ashamed, Greg. Goonhammer is a community that is supportive of proxies and conversions and you suddenly decide that’s bad when you don’t like it. Little secret, vegetarians and vegans sometimes like meat even if the guilt can sap the taste out a fair bit. Even though vegetarian and vegan dishes are best when not trying to emulate meat products, there is something to be said when you just really want a burger or chicken sandwich. We’ve come a long way in third party technology at replicating the real thing and it’s exciting to see where new places can take us.
Liam: I am trash and I like basically all of this stuff. Gimme your fake burgers, fake sausages, fake chicken nuggets, whatever meat product with imitation meat in it. I am not a proud man and I will eat it all.
RagnarokAngel: Decent pulled pork substitute in terms of texture, but you still basically cover it in so much sauce you can’t taste the underlying fruit, which is kind of evidence that the taste is lacking.
Condit: I don’t know if this actually counts but Greg was dumb enough to let me edit this post and so therefore now it does. Especially because falafel is incredibly good. There is a place that delivers falafel to my house and sometimes I just order like a week’s supply of the stuff and just gorge myself on it until I feel sick.
Liam: Falafel is fucking incredible, but there was a long stretch where every chain decided they had to have a vegan option and that vegan option was gonna be a dispiriting falafel wrap. It’s like the vegan equivalent of a ham sandwich – it’s fine, but you can do better.
That’s that, then.
The official Meatwatch advice here is to do what you want, because that’s what you were gonna do anyway. We’ll be back next month to go off about The Beef Animal, or something like that.
Thanks for sticking around, and making this column what it is: a little-read corner of this website that exists solely for me to get yelled at. If you have questions or comments, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, or right here in the comments. We are here to help.