Most tried and true vegetarians would probably shudder at the thought of pre-packed and processed vegetarian options, but when it comes to lunch, I need something quick and easy. And while I’m only a part-time veghead (I’ve graduated from halfetarian to threequarteraterian), I really do enjoy vegetarian food. I can’t pass up a box of Morningstar Farms’ Black Bean Burgers, or Amy’s Organic Breakfast Burritos. So, while in Wegmans this past weekend, I decided to pick up two things for my lunch this week; Gardein’s Chick’n Santa Fe and also Light Life Smart Deli’s Bologna Style veggie meat. A mouth full, I know.
So let’s start with the Gardein Chick’n Santa Fe. The package comes with two chik’n patties, which are considered to be two separate servings. At just 140 calories each, I figured I could probably have two. However, in order to stretch my dollar, I decided to just bring one for lunch on Tuesday, and I paired it with the leftover mango cous cous I had. It actually turned out to be impressively filling, and I was glad I saved the other patty for later in the week. As someone that does still eat meat, I was shocked at how meat-like the chicken really was. Even my fiancé was impressed with it’s look in terms of color and texture. The patty was stuffed with corn and black beans, and came with a spicy(ish) tomato sauce to pour on top. It only took 2 minutes to microwave, and was perfectly cooked. Needless to say I was really impressed with it, and am looking forward to trying more Gardein selections!
Onto the veggie bologna. Growing up my go-to sandwich was Boars Head bologna with yellow American cheese, cut into quarters. I am salvating just thinking about it. But let’s be honest, for both the meat eaters and non-meat eaters, bologna is pretty gross. So, I decided to give the veggie (and hopefully more healthy) option a try, as my vegetarian friend loves it. I was a bit wary, considering I’ve had real bologna and it was one of my favorite deli meats growing up. I made my sandwich Tuesday night, paired it with some American cheese, and while I was tempted to have a taste, anxiously awaited until 12pm Wednesday to give it a try. While it isn’t real bologna, it definitely does a pretty good job imitating. If I hadn’t known it was veggie bologna, I probably would have assumed it to be legit.
It’s important to keep in mind when having vegetarian substitutes, they aren’t going to taste exactly like that meat you’re swapping out (in most cases). I think if you go into trying something with the idea that it’ll taste exactly like your favorite piece of chicken, hamburger, etc. you’ll be disappointed. However, if you’re willing to try some new flavors and expand your eating palate, veggie substitutes will be nice additions (or swaps)!