Don’t Fear the Tofurky

Many the vegetarian has tried to think up a meatless substitute for the Thanksgiving turkey and given up in defeat. Nauseous defeat. The Wall Street Journal charges into the fray with a tasting of four vegetarian turkey options, finding two that are vaguely palatable and two that tasters wouldn’t feed to a dog.

Perhaps the best-known faux turkey, the Tofurky, was up first. The Journal tasters gave it low marks for appearance, writing that it was a “tan cylinder encased in plastic.” The texture was “slightly rubbery, like a hot dog,” but the flavor wasn’t bad: “surprisingly edible,” said the teenage tester. (By the way, CHOW’s own Supertaster agrees, saying that “eating the thing is a pleasant surprise. Its texture has more bounce than actual meat, but it isn’t rubbery or slimy; it has an almost seitanlike mouthfeel. Moreover, the soy-onion-sage flavor of the finished product is relatively delicate and well balanced, evoking a turkey dinner without involving, you know, a dead bird.”)

Next up was a Vegetarian Plus “turkey.” This turkey is shaped like an actual bird, complete with a cavity users are to fill with fried-rice stuffing before roasting. Alas, the Vegetarian Plus “stunk … When the foil was lifted from the roast, an odor evocative of a barnyard or a 4-H fair filled the room. Testers recoiled. One gagged slightly with the first bite. The consensus: forks down.”

Tasters then tried the Celebration Roast, stuffed with butternut squash and apple dressing. This one was universally liked, “maybe because it didn’t try to mimic the taste of turkey … We gobbled it up.” (And again, CHOW agrees.) Finally, the interestingly named Vegetarian Turkey Square Ham made by All Vegetarian Inc., which was “shaped like a fireplace log,” and was “the foulest of the fowls.” Even worse than the stinks-of-barnyard Vegetarian Plus? Ugh. Now that’s gross turkey. Maybe it got squared with ham or something?

Perhaps this year vegetarians want to avoid fake meat and instead cook something meat-eaters and vegetarians alike will savor.

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