It is a good thing that I now live near Portland, the vegan capital of the US, otherwise, I may have purchased a plane ticket to the Netherlands when I read that some 75 percent of people there no longer eat meat. Wow, that’s huge! These are my peeps! As a result, when you take something out of the system, new alternatives appear to fill the gap. This means a new segment of the food market is booming, the fake meat, ham, chicken, sausage industry. Taking advantage of the fast-growing trend and to ensure a smooth and speedy transition, a new chain of stores called Vegetarian Butchers is taking over the country.
They went from opening one store in the Hague in October 2010 to 30 stores across the country today! And that’s not the end of it. The success of the stores comes from the amazing textures, flavors, so well prepared that even carnivores fall for them. Reasons for switching range from an ethical choice to no longer support animal exploitation and cruelty, to fear of infections and drug resistance. Greater sustainability is a real goal in some of the European nations and Holland is no exception. Eating lower on the food chain is one of the most powerful steps one can take to lower our ecological footprint. In the very near future, we, as a species, will have to decide whether we will feed animals or humans. It is that simple! At the rate of 50 billion animals slaughtered annually around the world, dwindling indispensable non-renewable resources, and a growing population, the clock is ticking.
This being said, all-vegetarian meats are processed (some more than others) and because of it, should be eaten in moderation with lots of fresh food. They also contain sodium, flavorings, and binding agents. Still, they are a vast improvement over a cocktail of growth hormones, tranquilizers, arsenic and various antibiotics meat-eaters ingest unknowingly on a daily basis (now you do!) They are a wonderful help to transition towards a plant-based diet, allowing vegetarians and vegans to join social events and blend in (not so obvious in some parts of the US!)
As in all things, there is always space for improvement. Some of the veggie meats still use egg white or some form of dairy product to create an amazing texture. Transitioning away from ALL animal products for food manufacturers hasn’t been an easy task. More steps are needed, temperature becomes essential, costs have gone up and so is the time to produce them. But with time, trials, and errors, better products continue to hit the market, and the thought of animal chunks and by-products on our plates will soon become a thing of the past.
Kudos to the Netherlands for showing the way to a healthier, kinder, and more sustainable world.