The Great Mock Meat Debate
We have stopped in Trang, a small town in Southern Thailand where we are staying for a couple of weeks to potter around at leisure… It’s not a particular tourist destination, more of a working living town used as a stopover place with tourists heading out to the nearby islands. Not many people seem to choose to stay more than a night before they head off somewhere else, but we have a soft spot for this place after we first visited in 2002, so we decided to stay and immerse ourselves in local town life. We are great believers in finding beauty, adventure and inspiration in places that you might not expect and so we love places like Trang.
Now Trang is not the vegan paradise that Bangkok is, but there are many vegan eating opportunities that can be discovered with a little bit of work. Lucky for us, there is this vegan Chinese-Thai buffet style restaurant just around the corner from our hotel (it’s like I literally attract vegan food sometimes!).
Look out for the yellow and red signs!
They are super friendly, super cheap and there is a whole array of vegan food to choose from. They are only open in the morning until lunchtime and the place is spotlessly clean.
The food is really tasty and most things contain tofu or ‘mock meat’ although there are some dishes that are just veggies.
Cheap and tasty vegan food
They also do some snacks to take away, like this yummy (but probably hideously unhealthy) chilli fried seitan mock meat with sesame seeds which is a nice snack on its own or good to add to a DIY meal (if the vegan option on offer is a bit dull).
The other great news (for me) is that they also do takeaway! I have a particular liking for these rice noodles that come with a spicy coconut sauce which tastes spicy and creamy and aromatic with lemongrass plus you also get to pick your own sides that go with it (I opted for a green papaya salad, bean sprouts and cucumber but there are also quite a few other salty pickle type dishes).
Plenty of takeaway options too
These mock meat restaurants can be found all over SE Asia and TravelMush and I have been discussing their place in the Vegan Food Quest. I know many vegans who choose a plant based lifestyle for health reasons, opting to follow a vegan diet because it’s healthier, can be less processed and more natural. I’m not sure how healthy mock meat is as I’m sure there’s a lot of processing that needs to happen to make some gluten into something that resembles Chinese roast pork?! Plus there’s the salt, flavourings and colourings, not to even mention the oil…
I also know many meat eating friends that would argue that if you want to eat meat, then you should just eat it and avoid these weird fake foods, but I think this misses the point of those who want to avoid eating animal products for ethical reasons, wanting to avoid animal cruelty and exploitation.
Personally, I think they can be a nice change in moderation. I wouldn’t want to eat that kind of food every day as I think that it’s important to try to stay healthy when travelling but there’s a certain vegan junk food spot that gets filled from this kind of thing.
At the end of the day though, it’s animal free so there’s a place for it on the Vegan Food Quest for sure even if it makes some people squeamish!