In a recent study on how values affect the way we taste foods, scientists made use of veggie sausages. Science blog the Frontal Cortex explains the experiment:

[A] large group of people were given a ‘human values’ test which seeks to measure fifty six different values (loyalty, ambition, social order, etc.) Then, the subjects were asked to rate a variety of sausages. People who scored high on ‘social authority’–they believed it was important to support people in power–tended to label the ‘vegetarian’ sausage as inferior, even when the vegetarian sausage was actually from a cow. Likewise, people who scored low on ‘social power values’ tended to score the vegan sausage much higher than the beef sausage, even when they were actually eating meat.

It’s kind of interesting (though not terribly surprising) that antiestablishment people stated their preference for vegetarian food. But in terms of a taste test, this just isn’t valid—you’re really messing with somebody’s head when you’re feeding him or her a veggie sausage and claiming that it’s beef, or vice versa!

Personally, I’d be more intrigued by the results of a totally blind tasting of veggie and meat sausages—because it’s not easy to find a decent vegetarian hot dog or sausage to have on hand for any vegetarians who show up at your barbecue. And while nobody really expects a veggie sausage to have the same flavor as a meaty one, it would be nice to find one that’s tasty in its own right.

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