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Fake Jerky Time!

Posted on June 2nd, 2017

Dave!Back when I went vegetarian on Earth Day in 1988... some 29 years ago... it was not a terribly difficult decision. The girl I was dating was a vegetarian. I didn't like much meat anyway (outside of burgers, bacon, and pepperoni pizza), and there were some great "fake meats" hitting the market that I was able to substitute with little effort.

But there are times...

Back when we had a Burger King in town, I'd drive by the place while smelling the flame-cooked burgers filling the air, and give serious consideration to abandoning vegetarianism. Or I'd go to a breakfast buffet and see a big ol' plate of bacon and be transfixed... and be trying to resist shoving my face into the plate. Pepperoni was the worst. Pepperoni pizza. REAL pepperoni crisps up on the edges and forms little cups filled with meat oil that makes them about the most delicious thing you'll ever put in your mouth. And, unlike veggie burgers and veggie bacon that's "okay"... there is no acceptable pepperoni substitute that tastes anywhere close to the original.

If I ever fall off the vegetarian bandwagon, I can pretty much guarantee it will be over a pepperoni pizza.

What it won't be over is jerky.

Because there are some very good jerky substitutes out there, and I decided to take a look at some of the most highly-rated...

Fake Meat Jerky
   
Photos taken from FakeMeats.com

   
Lightlife Meatless Smart Jerky: Original
Hands-down my favorite of the bunch. It's got a fantastic texture that retains a bit of the toughness that "real" jerky has, but won't rip your teeth out. The shreds are compressed into square-isa pieces, which also makes them easy to eat. Unlike so many fake jerky products, the flavor is subtle. They aren't trying to blast through your tastebuds to conceal the fact that you're not eating meat. This is a mild jerky that counts on subtle notes of a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce for flavor instead of piling on the heat to obliterate it. If it weren't for the 480mg sodium per ounce, you could eat it all day! (though high sodium is typical for these products).
TASTE: ★★★★★ • TEXTURE: ★★★★★

Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.: Maple Bacon
Despite my not tasting much maple or bacon flavor in the maple bacon variety, this is a very good brand of jerky. Perhaps a touch sweeter than I'd like, but nothing horrible. I do get a slight soy flavor lingering on my palette, but not offensively so... it's certainly better that than an over-flavored jerky! The texture is pleasing... not too tough, not too soft. Pieces are randomly shaped into strips that are meant to resemble actual jerky, so if you're transitioning, this might be a good brand to start. Sodium is a typical 480mg per ounce.
TASTE: ★★★★☆ • TEXTURE: ★★★★☆

Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.: Smoked Black Pepper
Despite being the same brand as above, the texture is softer/spongier for some reason, and I'm not getting as great a "jerky experience." It's like the jerky is soggy or something. The smoke and black pepper elements are there, as promised, but most of what I'm tasting here is salt. It's only 20mg more than the Maple Bacon (500mg vs. 480mg) but after eating it for a while, that's all I can taste. Would be a better jerky if they could toughen up the texture (like Maple Bacon) and take out salt while adding a touch more black pepper.
TASTE: ★★★☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

May Wah Vegan Beef Jerky
This Chinese jerky has an interesting texture that's more "shredded" than other brands. I like it... but it also gets stuck in my teeth. The flavor is... odd... not really barbecue or smoke, though I get a hint of something similar. It's got a definite mustard element floating in there... and it's going in more of a sweet than spicy direction. Overall I don't dislike it... it's definitely different and tasty... it just isn't hitting my "jerky button" the way I'd like.
TASTE: ★★☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★★☆☆

Stonewall's Jerquee: Original Mild
Stonewall's was my first vegetarian jerky. I had never tasted anything like it, and was buying it by the case at my local health food store. Then... after a year or so... something changed with the flavors. The "Original Mild" ended up with a horribly bitter flavor that left a nasty soy aftertaste. And while the texture is weird and spongy, I always ignored it because I liked the flavor so much. Now, after a decade of avoiding the stuff, I decided to try it again. Same thing. Same spongy texture. Same bitter flavor and soy aftertaste.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

Stonewall's Jerquee: Original Wild
Same as above, except they pile on peppers and spices to add some heat. The heat does quash the bitter notes a bit, but I really don't like the end result.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

Stonewall's Jerquee: Peppy Pepperoni
Back in the day, I thought the "pepperoni" flavor was pretty good. But now it's added to the same bitterness that has taken over the rest of the Stonewall's line and, even worse, has been made scorching spicy hot. So hot that any "pepperoni" notes are obliterated. If I wanted this flavor, I'd just drink a smokey hot sauce directly from the bottle.
TASTE: ☆☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

Primal Strips: Texas BBQ
This stuff is tough, like real jerky, but they inexplicably soak it in sauce, so it ends up being more like a tough strip of meat in marinade than actual jerky. Your teeth will slide over the wet before you can get a bite, and even then you may not be able to bite all the way through on the first chomp. The flavor is not bad at all... it's definitely a sweet barbecue variety flavor... but once you get past the sugary-sweetness it's a little bland, having very little smoke elements.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ☆☆☆☆☆

   
That's it for this round. As I discover more great vegetarian jerky options, I'll update the list.

And if you're looking to purchase any of these products, you can get them all via one-stop-shopping from the good people at FakeMeats.com!

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Categories: Food 2017Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Superior Market

Posted on April 12th, 2017

Dave!Living in the wilds of Reneckistan as I do, there are certain pros and cons that one has to accept. In the "pros" column are things like "no traffic" and "breathable air." In the "cons" list are things like "NO TRADER JOE'S FOR YOU!"

I love awesome grocery stores. Stores like Wegman's... Mariano's... and (more logical for my area) Trader Joe's. Mostly because awesome grocery stores have a terrific selection of interesting vegetarian foods that your typical grocery chain does not. In the case of Trader Joe's, it's things like their amazing black bean and jack cheese burrito... or their frozen pizzas... or their frozen tamales... or their veggie chili... or their soy chorizo... or their veggie spring rolls... or their veggie wraps... or their toasted almond slivers... or their... well, you get the picture.

A considerably better selection of great foods I can eat than what I have access to now.

But, alas, the nearest Trader Joe's is 2-1/2 hours away.

Which is why I regularly send store requests like this one to corporate...

I'm tired of having to drive 2-1/2 hours to shop at Trader Joe's! Is the reason you don't have a store in Wenatchee because our locations have too much parking available?

I suppose I should explain about the parking thing.

Trader Joe's are smaller stores. They carry a fraction of the products that a "regular" store does. Because of this, they are often built in smaller spaces. And, given their popularity, there's never enough parking spots.

Never.

At least for the half-dozen stores I've been to.

Anyway...

I was just sitting here watching the latest episode of The Talk, craving something from Trader Joe's, and felt you should feel my pain.

You're welcome.

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Categories: Food 2017Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Munneh

Posted on May 15th, 2014

Dave!Travel costs, which have always been kinda expensive... but not prohibitively so... have been skyrocketing at a steady clip. Every time I turn around, the price for a trip goes up. Airfare keeps rising. Meals keep rising. Local transportation keeps rising. And hotels? Hotels are absolutely nuts. Even if you use Priceline and Hotwire to save money, lodging in most major cities is insanely pricey if you want to stay at a nice property in a decent location.

For my trip to Chicago today, I started adding things up and nearly passed out. Compared to six years ago, this trip will be almost double the cost. You read that right, double. Even the little things... like a bottle of Coke at the 7-11 (99¢ to $1.79) have gotten out of hand, and it all adds up...

$37 Dollar Coffee? AWESOME!

I'm seriously starting to wonder if traveling for work is even worth it any more. If a huge chunk of the money you earn is pissed away on flights, hotels, and food... it seems a lot of effort for very little return.

And so I consider settling down and traveling less.

But then I happen upon the best fucking veggie burger I have ever had tonight, and begin to think that maybe it's worth it after all. I'd never be able to get something like this back home.

Or maybe I just need to move to Chicago.

Inflation, it's a bitch, yo.

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Categories: Travel 2014Click To It: Permalink  2 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Veggie

Posted on April 22nd, 2013

Dave!This morning when I woke up I had an awesome idea for a blog post, but have since forgotten what it was. I can only guess I was going to talk about the perils of not writing things down after you turn 40, but who can say for sure?

Fortunately it's Earth Day today, so there's that to talk about.

Uhhhh... yeah... be kind to the earth... or whatever.

Well that didn't go very far now did it?

Except... Earth Day is also the anniversary of my becoming a vegetarian. I gave up meat on this date back in 1988. Which means it's been 25 years since I've had a hamburger.

A quarter-century since I've had a chicken nugget.

And 9131 days since I've eaten bacon.

   
No. I don't know how I've survived this long either.

   

Bullet Sunday 256

Posted on November 13th, 2011

Dave!Wah. I have a stomach ache this Bullet Sunday.

   
• Treat? I realize I'm probably late to the party on this one, but I am just now hearing about Pox Pops. Apparently, some parents are so opposed to vaccinating their kids against chicken pox that they are going to extreme measures to purposely infect them. They do this by having the parents of pox-ridden kids lick a lollipop and mail it to them... SO THEY CAN HAVE THEIR KID SUCK THE POX OFF OF IT! The idea being that once you get chicken pox, you're immune for the rest of your life...

DAVETOON: Mumpy Bad Monkey with a Bad Lolli!

I don't pretend to know about the benefits/dangers of vaccinating children (because I don't have any)... but this sounds pretty fucked up to me. Gawd only knows what was sucking on that pop before your kids get their hands on it.

   
• Leat? I can't adequately summarize the horrors of this story I just read about growing laboratory meat (leat?), so you'll just have to go read it for yourself...

Leat Lab Meat!
Photo by Francois Lenoir of Reuters

As a vegetarian, I honestly can't say which disgusts me more... dead animal flesh... or this abomination of nature. Holy crap. Is a soy burger really that awful an alternative?

   
• Sweet! After his surprisingly brilliant appearances on Saturday Night Live, I've become a bit of a Justin Timberlake fan. He's incredibly talented and funny as hell. But it's good to know that he's a nice guy on top of it all. Earlier this year, he received a public video invitation from Corporal Kelsey DeSantis to attend the Marine Corps Ball...

Much to everybody's surprise, he agreed to go...

And then... he actually went! And if there were any doubters out there thinking that he was going as some kind of publicity stunt, he wrote a really nice recap of the experience on his blog they should read...

Timberlake at the Marine Corps Ball

The lucky bastard! Justin ended up with a sexy Marine that can kick his ass. Talk about your dream date! Semper Fi, Marine. Semper Fi.

   
On that happy note, my stomach demands I call it a night. :-(

   

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