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Cross: Vegans, please leave your meat obsession at the door

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For those whose meatless Mondays have become fleshless forevers, deliverance is at hand. The veggie burger is here. Recent commercials by A&W tout the company’s Beyond Meat Burger and its Beyond Meat Sausage and Egger breakfast sandwich. Actors wax ecstatic over the product, exclaiming it “tastes exactly like meat.”

That meat memory is a big positive, apparently. So why not eat the real thing? Forget the foodie flim-flam.

If you believe eating meat is cruel, stresses the environment or contributes to chronic ailments, then why sculpt faux burgers, ribs, roasts and steaks out of veggies and grains to imitate the very animal flesh you profess to abhor? Seems counterintuitive to me.

As a species we evolved as omnivores, but I get it that you don’t eat meat. Go ahead, do you. What I don’t get is this obsession with creating stuff to look like meat. You gave it up, remember?

Sorting out the who’s who of anti-carnivores, there are vegetarians who choose vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds and nuts. Vegans, a higher order of vegetarian, do not eat any meat, or eggs, dairy or ingredients such as gelatin from animal collagen. There are pescatarians (from pesce, Italian for fish) who will eat fish, and ovo-lacto vegetarians who will consume eggs and milk products. Finally, there are flexitarians, who eat mostly plants and occasionally some meat or fish. Like when that meatatarian craving hits and you can’t face any more bluff beef or pretender pork.

In this file photo, customers stop to get a free vegetarian burger at a food truck in downtown Washington, DC. ERIC BARADAT / AFP/Getty Images

Canada’s re-vamped food guide recommends swapping out some meat, poultry and dairy for plant-based proteins. But the key is a balanced diet, not a meat boycott. European Union food regulations state, “labelling cannot be misleading as to a food’s primary composition” so the EU approved consumer labelling banning the use of meaty terms such as burger, escalope, hamburger, sausage and steak, in favour of “veggie disks” and “veggie tubes” to describe plant-based replicas. So, “vegan meat balls” is a no-no but “vegan balls” are fine. That wraps it up.

When we were kids, my cousins and I ate slices of fried bologna, which we jokingly called “tubular steak.” We all survived and are healthy. We now binge on SPAM, that spiced ham in a can with a key first conceived by Hormel Foods way back last century, followed by mouthfuls of Twinkies for dessert. Delish.

When we were kids, my cousins and I ate slices of fried bologna, which we jokingly called “tubular steak.” We all survived and are healthy.

All this substitution of fake flesh for the real thing has led to creative linguistics. A quick guide to speaking vegan includes “crumble” referring to a crunchy texture masquerading as bacon bits or ground beef. “Toona” is sham seafood from soy and veggie protein. A “flegg” is a non-egg made from flax meal and water. Soy or almond “milk” is a bogus bovine beverage of plant juice. Real milk comes from cows that eat plants. For Christmas, combine flegg with that beverage to make nutnog. It goes with that imposter gobbler called “Tofurky.” Should vegan bacon be called “vacon”? Or, is that just more phoney baloney? Is non-dairy cheese called “teese” or “sheese”? Whatever it is, it is not cheese. Sort of reminiscent of that venerable iridescent processed goop in a bottle called Cheez Whiz, isn’t it?

In the Ottawa area, the cleverly named Fauxmagerie Zengarry is up front about its products. It manufactures six flavours of all-natural artisanal cashew “cheese” or “fromage” at Alexandria in the Township of North Glengarry for those who “love cheese but not the dairy,” whether they are vegan or have milk allergies. It’s not real cheese and it doesn’t pretend to be. Hooray, honestly!

But by constructing copycat meat, vegetarians are secret meatarians. Just enjoy fruit and veggie fodder unaccompanied by reminders of past carnivore chow. Otherwise, cut the herbivore hype.

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Record one million job losses in March: StatCan

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OTTAWA — More than one million Canadians lost their jobs in the month of March, Statistics Canada is reporting. The unemployment rate has also climbed to 7.8 per cent, up from 2.2 percentage points since February.

Canada’s national statistics agency released its monthly Labour Force Survey on Thursday, using March 15 to 21 as the sample week – a time when the government began enforcing strict guidelines around social gatherings and called on non-essential businesses to close up shop.

The first snapshot of job loss since COVID-19 began taking a toll on the Canadian economy shows 1.1 million out of work since the prior sample period and a consequent decrease in the employment rate – the lowest since April 1997. The most job losses occurred in the private sector and among people aged 15-24.

The number of people who were unemployed increased by 413,000, resulting in the largest one-month increase in Canada’s unemployment rate on record and takes the economy back to a state last seen in October, 2010.

“Almost all of the increase in unemployment was due to temporary layoffs, meaning that workers expected to return to their job within six months,” reads the findings.

The agency included three new indicators, on top of the usual criteria, to better reflect the impact of COVID-19 on employment across the country.

The survey, for example, excludes the more commonly observed reasons for absent workers — such as vacation, weather, parental leave or a strike or lockout — to better isolate the pandemic’s effect.

They looked at: people who are employed but were out of a job during the reference week, people who are employed but worked less than half their usual hours, and people who are unemployed but would like a job.

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Employee at Ottawa’s Amazon Fulfillment Centre tests positive for COVID-19

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OTTAWA — An employee who works at Amazon’s fulfillment centre on Boundary Road in Ottawa’s east-end has tested positive for COVID-19.

Amazon says it learned on April 3 that an associate tested positive for novel coronavirus and is currently in isolation. The employee last worked at the fulfillment centre on March 19.

Two employees told CTV News Ottawa that management informed all employees about the positive test in a text message over the weekend.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Amazon spokesperson Jen Crowcroft wrote “we are supporting the individual who is recovering. We are following guidelines from health officials and medical experts, and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site.”

The statement also says that Amazon has taken steps to further protect their employees.

“We have also implemented proactive measures at our facilities to protect employees including increased cleaning at all facilities, maintaining social distance in the FC.”

CTV News Ottawa asked Amazon about the timeline between when the company found out about the positive COVID-19 case and when employees were notified.

In a separate email to CTV News Ottawa, Crowcroft said “all associates of our Boundary Road fulfillment centre in Ottawa were notified within 24 hours of learning of the positive COVID-19 case.”

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Ottawa facing silent spring as festivals, events cancelled

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This is shaping up to be Ottawa’s silent spring — and summer’s sounding pretty bleak, too — as more and more concerts, festivals and other annual events are cancelled in the wake of measures meant to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The province has already banned gatherings of more than five people, and on Monday officials announced city parks, facilities and services will remain shut down until the end of June, nor will any event permits be issued until at least that time.

“This leaves us with no choice but to cancel the festival this year,” Ottawa Jazz Festival artistic director Petr Cancura confirmed Monday.

This was to be the festival’s 40th anniversary, and organizers announced the lineup for the June 19-July 1 event the day after Ottawa’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. 

The Toronto and Montreal jazz festivals had already pulled the plug because of similar restrictions in their cities, so Cancura said the writing was on the wall.

“We have a few contingency plans to keep connecting with our audience and working with our artists,” Cancura said.

People holding tickets to the 2020 festival can ask for a refund or exchange for a 2021 pass.

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